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FAQs for patients

Are you open to the public?

Yes.

The vast majority of the 60,000+ treatments we provide each year are for members of the public.

In fact, we couldn't be here without the public's support.

We no longer accept patients who walk in. You must have an appointment before you come to see us.

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Can I make an appointment for my first visit?

First, you need to contact us via email dental.clinicaladministration@otago.ac.nz to discuss how to enrol.

If you have an urgent dental need you can phone 03 479 8889 to seek assistance. 

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Will I be seen by a student or a staff member?

You could be seen by one of our expert teachers or by a student. Because we do postgraduate teaching, in some cases you might be seen by a student who is already a fully-qualified dentist.

But don't worry: our supervised students are exceptionally well-trained.

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Can I choose to see a staff member instead of a student?

Unfortunately not.

This is because we're so busy (over 60,000 patient treatments each year), and also because different dentists see different patients – depending on symptoms and/or the dentists’ availability.

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Is it safe to be treated by a student?

Definitely! Our students receive comprehensive theoretical and hands-on training long before they ever see a patient. Our supervised students are exceptionally well-trained.

In all cases, our students operate under the supervision of our expert staff, who may be chairside during your visit – or they may be present elsewhere in the clinic at the time.

As always, there’s a very small risk with any kind of dental treatment, but be assured, we would not let our students see patients until they’re absolutely ready for the task at hand.

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Will someone senior oversee my student/treatment?

Yes.

All students are supervised by a qualified dentist, oral surgeon, professional practice fellow, clinical dental technician, or hygienist.

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How long will I need to wait on the day?

All patients have a booked appointment time, so you should attend no earlier than 15 minutes before your appointment time.

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Will anyone be watching me receive treatment?

Most of our clinics are large rooms with multiple dental chairs in them, so you’ll probably be treated in a room with many other patients. However, in most cases, the chairs are separated by low walls or dental equipment.

If you’re treated by one of our staff, it’s possible one or more students may be observe as part of their training. Or, if you’re treated by one of our students, a staff member may watch or come by occasionally to monitor progress.

If you’re receiving surgery, you will be treated in a modern and sterile operating theatre. There won't be any other patients in the operating theatre, but you may see other patients in the waiting and recovery rooms.

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How long will my treatment take?

Treatment time frames should be discussed with your clinician at the first appointment.

Treatment time may be longer than usual if you are being treated by a student.

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Is there a guarantee with the treatment?

Yes.

There is a guarantee in line with the normal expectations of the treatment you have received.

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Can I have a second opinion?

Yes.

We can supply you with a written quote / treatment plan for you to take to a private dentist or specialist if you wish.

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Is treatment free?

No.

There will be a charge for treatment, which your clinician will discuss with you before treatment begins.

If you have a current community services card you may be eligible for discounted treatment through one of our SDHB contracts or if you are a WINZ beneficiary, again the clinician will be able to discuss these with you and help you fill in the appropriate forms.

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What will it cost?

The cost of treatment is dependent on your individual situation, but the cost will be discussed and agreed with you prior to any treatment.

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If a staff members treats me, will I be charged more?

Yes, staff charges are higher.

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Can I get a discount with my Community Services Card?

No.

We don’t provide a discount with a community services card, but you may be eligible for subsidised treatment under our Southern DHB contracts.

If you are eligible, you need to show your Community Services Card when you attend for your appointment.

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Do I have to pay on the day?

All patients are expected to pay the fees when leaving the clinic.

If you cannot do this, you can discuss this with your provider. You may be able to make payments based on an agreed payment plan.

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How can I pay?

You can pay by EFTPOS at any reception desk.

If you pay cash, you will need to pay at Ground Floor Reception.

If you have a payment plan approved, you can pay regular automatic payments or can pay at the Faculty Ground Floor Reception.

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Where are you located?

Our temporary patients’ entrance is at 33 Frederick Street, Dunedin North, Dunedin 9016.

Our contact page has full details.

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Where can I park / catch a bus?

Unfortunately due to construction work, parking is limited around the building.

The Dunedin City Council website has more information about where you can park in Dunedin.

The Otago Regional Council website has information about bus services in Dunedin. Many routes pass along George Street, which is half a block away.

We're also happy to call a taxi for you – just ask at reception.

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What are your opening hours?

The clinics operate from 9am to 12noon, and 2pm to 5pm.

Unless you are attending the ground floor reception, you can only attend at your appointment time.

The building opens at 8.30am, so you cannot enter the building before 8:30am.

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Do clinics run during semester time or only in holidays?

Student clinics only run during semester time, however our Primary Care runs all year, except statutory holidays.

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When is semester time?

Semester time is when the students attend university and is usually from Mid-February to the end of October.

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Do you open over the Christmas break?

We have a Primary Care clinic running over the Christmas break. You must ring to receive an appointment during this time.

This clinic will close for statutory holidays. You can attend Dunedin Hospital’s Emergency Department on statutory holidays.

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What’s the difference between ‘Faculty of Dentistry’ and ‘Dental School’?

Our actual name is the Faculty of Dentistry, however, within the Dunedin community, we’re more commonly known as the ‘Dental School’. And fair enough, because we’re New Zealand’s only dental school!

Technically our main building on Great King Street (the Walsh Building) is the ‘School’, which is run by the Faculty of Dentistry.

But for consistency on this website, we refer to ourselves as the Faculty of Dentistry. Think of it this way: “The Faculty of Dentistry is a dental school.”

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How do I become a dental hygienist / dental therapist / dental technician / dentist?

Thanks for your interest! Careers in oral healthcare are exciting, interesting, and rewarding.

Click through to the following pages to learn more about studying at the Faculty of Dentistry:

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