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FAQs for patients

We've rounded up some of the most common questions patients ask us at the Faculty of Dentistry.

Please contact us if you have a question that isn't answered here.

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.

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Can I make an appointment for my first visit?

Unfortunately, not for your first visit, but we'll make an appointment for you if you need to return for a follow-up or further treatment..

The first time you see us, you'll need to please come to the main (ground floor) reception at 310 Gt King St to enrol as a patient in person.

More information for new patients

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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.  In 2019, we were ranked 34th-best dental school in the world.

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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 2019, we were ranked 34th-best dental school in the world.

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?

All undergraduate and postgraduate students are supervised by a qualified dentist/oral surgeon/Professional Practice Fellow/Clinical Dental Technician/Hygienist.

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How long will I need to wait on the day?

On your first visit you may have to wait a while to be seen. We could see you within a few minutes, or it could take a couple of hours — depending on how busy we are that day, and depending on the type of treatment you may require.

We know that you might be in pain, and we'll definitely get to you as soon as we can.

There are plenty of magazines in the waiting room, but we recommend you bring a book (or charge your phone before coming in), just in case you have a long wait.

If we make an appointment for a follow-up visit or further treatment, you shouldn't have to wait as long, but please note sometimes unforeseen circumstances mean your wait is longer than we'd like. We recommend that you don't schedule any important events on the day of your visit, just in case.

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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?

Working time frames should be discussed with your clinician at the first appointment. Treatment time may be longer than usual because 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?

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

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?

Our fees page includes a rough guide to the costs of 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?

Yes, you usually you can, but you must show us your Community Services Card before your first treatment, so we can give you the discount.

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Do I have to pay on the day?

Patients must pay the $35 Consultation Fee before treatment in the Admissions and Urgent Care Clinic (UCU). If you'd like to pay on the day, ask at reception after your treatment. It's usually possible (and we prefer you to pay on the day if possible), but sometimes we need more time to prepare your invoice.

If you don't pay on the day, we'll post you an invoice within a few weeks.

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How can I pay?

Sometimes you can pay on the day by cash or eftpos (if you'd like to do this, ask at reception after your treatment).

Otherwise we'll post you an invoice within a few weeks of your treatment. You can then come in to pay at reception (on the ground floor), pay at your local bank, or pay by internet banking.

Payment instructions will be included with your invoice.

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Where are you located?

We're at 310 Great King Street, North Dunedin.

Our contact page has full details, including a location map.

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Where can I park / catch a bus?

There's metered street parking available right outside on Great King Street. There's also a metered public carpark on the corner of Frederick and Malcolm Streets, which is one block away.

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 also just 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?

Our contact page includes our opening hours. If you want to double-check we're open before you come to see us, feel free to give us a call.

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Do clinics run during semester time or only in holidays?

Student clinics only run during semester time, however our Urgent Care Unit 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 an Urgent Care Unit running over the Christmas break, this clinic will close for statutory holidays. You can attend Dunedin Hospitals Emergency Department during this time.

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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What's happening with the new building project?

The new building project section has the latest information for patients, staff, and students and a webcam where you can check on progress.

Unless you hear otherwise, you can assume it's business as usual.

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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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