What is Dentistry all about? Not just teeth, but all the oral and maxillofacial tissues – and it is increasingly being recognised that good oral health is important for good general health.
Dentists prevent oral diseases and diagnose and treat oral conditions. Dentists have many roles; they may have a family-based general dental practice, they may specialise in high-tech areas such as implants and restorative procedures, and they may work with medically- or socially-disadvantaged patients.
Dentistry is the art and science of the maintenance of all aspects of oral health and function for all people in our community.
Why study Dentistry?
Dentistry is a challenging profession that combines a high degree of manual dexterity and precision with a thorough understanding of craniofacial biology and pathology, and excellent communication skills.
The dentist is the leader of the oral health team and can diagnose and carry out treatment planned to each patient’s oral needs.
If you’re considering a career as a dentist, you should be prepared for lifelong learning to maintain your practising standards.
As a graduate, there are opportunities for full- or part-time work in New Zealand or overseas; and opportunities include private general or specialist practice, academic careers, or hospital- or defence-based practice.
Dentistry teaches you:
- The scientific foundations in anatomy, physiology, and oral biology
- About public health dentistry and how to develop your communication skills
- Clinical skills, first in simulation classes in the Faculty of Dentistry’s cutting-edge simulation laboratory, and then in patient sessions
- About a wide range of clinical dental disciplines including prosthodontics and clinical cariology, endodontics, periodontics, paediatric dentistry, orthodontics, oral medicine, oral surgery, oral pathology, and special needs dentistry
What will I study?
After selection from Health Sciences First Year (HSFY), or from other entry categories, you commence studies in second-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS).
There are three themes that run through the entire course.
In second year, the largest theme is Biomedical Sciences, which lays the scientific foundations in anatomy, physiology, and oral biology for the introductory clinical work you will undertake in the second theme, The Dentist and the Patient.
In the third theme, The Dentist and the Community, you will learn about public health dentistry and about how to further develop your communication skills.
In third and fourth year, The Dentist and the Patient is a major component of the curriculum. Here you will develop your clinical skills, initially in simulation sessions in our state-of-the-art simulation laboratory and then in patient sessions.
You will cover a wide range of clinical dental disciplines including prosthodontics and clinical cariology, endodontics, periodontics, paediatric dentistry, orthodontics, oral medicine, oral surgery, oral pathology, and special needs dentistry.
To underpin your increasing clinical experience, the biomedical sciences papers will cover general and oral pathology, growth and development, medicine, surgery, and therapeutics. In The Dentist and the Community, you will explore epidemiology and determinants of oral health and culture, and ethnicity and oral health.
In fifth year, you will consolidate your clinical experience and undertake a research project, either in Dunedin, elsewhere in New Zealand, or overseas.
There are no subject requirements for entry into the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme, but we strongly recommend you take Biology, Chemistry, and Physics at Year 13.
HSFY must be your first year of university study. If you are considering tertiary study before enrolling, you are strongly advised to contact Health Sciences Admissions beforehand.
Admission to Dentistry
Admission to Dentistry is very competitive. The majority of places are offered to students who have completed the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme at the University of Otago. High grades are required and no compulsory paper can be less than a B-.
Applications are also considered in the Graduate and Alternative categories.
In all cases, you must have completed the HSFY papers or approved alternatives with the required grades.
A small number of places are available for international students who return to their home country after graduating. Applicants may also apply via the Mirror on Society subcategory or other subcategories which are outlined in the Guidelines for Admission.
Want to know more about admission to Dentistry?
The Division of Health Sciences website has detailed application information for admission into Dentistry and other Health Sciences programmes.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages:
- Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS)
- Bachelor of Dental Technology (BDentTech)
- Bachelor of Dental Surgery (Honours) (BDS(Hons))
- Bachelor of Dental Technology (Honours) (BDentTech(Hons))
- Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Community Dentistry (PGDipComDent)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Dental Technology (PGDipCDTech)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Dentistry (PGDipClinDent)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Dental Therapy (PGDipDentTher)
- Master of Dentistry (MDent)
- Master of Community Dentistry (MComDent)
- Master of Oral Health (MOH)
- Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent)
- Doctor of Dental Science (DDSc)
Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS)
|1st year|| |
Note: Students enrolled in the Health Sciences First Year course will be required to achieve a satisfactory mark in a standard diagnostic English test or another approved measure of achievement.
|2nd year|| |
DENT 261 The Dentist and the Patient 1
DENT 262 Biomedical Sciences 1
DENT 263 The Dentist and the Community 1
|3rd year|| |
DENT 361 The Dentist and the Patient 2
DENT 362 Biomedical Sciences 2
DENT 363 The Dentist and the Community 2
DENT 364 * Dentistry in the New Zealand Context
|4th year|| |
DENT 461 The Dentist and the Patient 3
DENT 462 Biomedical Sciences 3
DENT 463 The Dentist and the Community 3
|5th year|| |
DENT 551 The Dentist and the Patient 4
DENT 552 Biomedical Sciences 4
DENT 553 The Dentist and the Community 4
* DENT 364 is available only for approved students admitted under the International Medical University Partnership Programme and having previously passed appropriate courses; students who pass the paper will be credited with the First, Second, and Third Year courses of the programme.
Bachelor of Dental Surgery with Honours (BDS(Hons))
|Fifth year|| |
DENT 561 General Practice Dentistry for Honours
DENT 563 Community Service Learning
DENT 580 Dental Honours Research Project 1
DENT 581 Dental Honours Research Project 2
Note: Papers in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Years are the same as in the Schedule for the ordinary degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery.
Master of Dentistry (MDent)
AEST 801 Principles of Aesthetic Dentistry
AEST 802 Advanced Aesthetic Dentistry
AEST 880 Research Dissertation
|Rural Oral Health Care||
ROHC 801 Principles of Medicine and Surgery for Rural Oral Health Care
ROHC 802 Advanced Principles in General Dental Practice
ROHC 880 Research Dissertation
Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad) endorsed in Dentistry
(for students withdrawing from a Doctor of Clinical Dentistry programme).
Note: Endorsement may require enrolment in papers totalling more than 120 points, depending on the extent of prior study in relevant subjects and whether the student wishes to be eligible for postgraduate study in the subject of endorsement.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website