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Study Oral Health at Otago

The window to your body’s health.

Oral health affects everyone every day – and normally most people don’t think about it. Good oral health allows you to speak, smile, kiss, smell, taste, and chew with self-assurance.

The University of Otago’s Bachelor of Oral Health is an exciting three-year degree programme at New Zealand’s only Faculty of Dentistry, delivering excellent and innovative education in oral health.

Who is an oral health therapist?

An oral health therapist is a highly-skilled professional member of the dental team. Oral health therapists have skills in dental hygiene, dental therapy, and oral health promotion. They educate patients about their oral health; preventive care is a key aspect of their work. They are skilled at promoting healthy lifestyles and have a strong awareness of the socio-cultural influences on health. Oral health therapists diagnose and treat oral diseases (such as gum disease and dental decay), and provide quality care for patients of all ages, including restorative care for children and adolescents.

Why study Oral Health?

Good or bad, oral health impacts on people’s daily lives and good oral health can be a big part of living life comfortably. As an oral health therapist, you become part of the dental team, developing the skills to provide dental and periodontal care and to foster lifelong positive oral health attitudes and behaviour in patients. You will also obtain skills in health promotion.

Background required

In order to study oral health, you need to have attained a satisfactory standard in NCEA Level 3 Biology and English or approved equivalents.

You will also need to like working with and caring for people, as well as be reasonably fit and healthy.

What will I study?

The University of Otago’s Bachelor of Oral Health is an exciting three-year degree at New Zealand’s only Faculty of Dentistry. The programme delivers excellent and innovative education in oral health. Oral health students work with undergraduate and postgraduate dental and dental technology students. This is made possible because the programme is delivered from within the Faculty of Dentistry.

From the beginning of your study, you will work as part of a dental team. You will also have constant access to highly-qualified specialist staff. Graduates will be leaders in the field because the programme ensures its teaching and research are continually refined and improved to keep in step with oral health best-practice. The programme also focuses on enabling its students to be well-prepared for lifelong, self-directed learning.

In the first year of the oral health degree, you will learn how the body works, particularly how oral tissues interact with their environment. You will learn the most effective use of information technology in the study and practice of oral health, and will complete a paper in Māori Society. Clinical practice begins in the first year as well; when you start to develop your clinical skills using models and phantom heads.

The second year introduces pathology, pharmacology, and medicine relevant to oral health. Students will also study a paper in Sociology and one in Public Health. A large part of the year is spent developing clinical skills by treating patients under supervision.

The third (final) year concentrates on further clinical training, community oral health, and oral health promotion. You will also undertake a research project.

Career opportunities

Graduates will meet the requirements for registration as an oral health therapist.

There is a high demand for oral health graduates. Employment opportunities include working in private dental practices, specialist practices, community-based clinics, iwi-based clinics, and hospital dental clinics.

Graduates will also be able to apply knowledge about health and disease to health promotion in education, community development, and public policy.

Postgraduate study and research opportunities include Master of Oral Health (MOH), Master of Health Sciences (MHealSc), Master of Public Health (MPH), and PhD degrees, as well as postgraduate diplomas.

Admission to the programme

Entry is competitive. To be admitted to the programme, applicants must be eligible to attend university, and should have attained a satisfactory standard in NCEA Level 3 Biology and English or a recognised equivalent.

Online applications can be made from early August, and close on 15 September of the year preceding enrolment. Late applications may be considered.

Application information for admission into the Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH) programme is available at otago.ac.nz/healthsciences

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification page.

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH)

YearPapersPoints
1st year

DEOH 101  The Body and its Environment

DEOH 102  The Oral Environment: Health and Disease

DEOH 103  Oral Informatics

DEOH 104  Clinical Oral Health Practice

MAOR 102 * Māori Society

* MAOR 102 must be taken in the second semester

15

15

15

57

18

2nd year

DEOH 201  Human Disease and Pharmacology

DEOH 202  Oral Health Therapy 1

DEOH 203  Oral Health Therapy 2

PUBH 202  Health Promotion

SOCI 101  Sociology of New Zealand Society

14

35

35

18

18

3rd year

DEOH 301  Community Oral Health and Oral Health Promotion

DEOH 302  Advanced Oral Health Therapy 1

DEOH 303  Advanced Oral Health Therapy 2

DEOH 304  Applied Oral Health Research

15

45

45

15

Papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
DEOH101 2021 The Body and Its Environment 15 points Second Semester
DEOH102 2021 The Oral Environment: Health and Disease 15 points First Semester
DEOH103 2021 Oral Informatics 15 points First Semester
DEOH104 2021 Clinical Oral Health Practice 57 points Full Year
DEOH201 2021 Human Disease and Pharmacology 14 points First Semester
DEOH202 2021 Oral Health Therapy 1 35 points Full Year
DEOH203 2021 Oral Health Therapy 2 35 points Full Year
DEOH301 2021 Community Oral Health and Oral Health Promotion 15 points First Semester
DEOH302 2021 Advanced Oral Health Therapy 1 45 points Full Year
DEOH303 2021 Advanced Oral Health Therapy 2 45 points Full Year
DEOH304 2021 Applied Oral Health Research 15 points Full Year
DEOH501 2021 Advanced Principles of Oral Health I 60 points 1st Non standard period
DEOH502 2021 Advanced Principles of Oral Health II 60 points 1st Non standard period
DEOH580 2021 Research Dissertation 60 points 1st Non standard period
DEOH581 2021 Research Dissertation 60 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

Key information for future students

Contact us

Faculty of Dentistry
Tel +64 3 479 7036
Email dental.admin@otago.ac.nz
Website otago.ac.nz/dentistry