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Become a registered maxillofacial physician in New Zealand and Australia

Oral Medicine students observe patient treatment

Start your application on the DClinDent regulations page

What is Oral Medicine?

Oral Medicine deals with the diagnosis and non-surgical management of oral mucosal disease, salivary gland disease including dry mouth, disorders of oral and facial sensation including oro-facial pain, and connective tissue pathology.

Duration Three years full-time (47 weeks per year)
Campus Dunedin (for all academic, clinical, and research training)
  • Prepare students for specialist practice in New Zealand and Australia
  • Provide education and training in scientific investigation, critical appraisal of literature, and scientific writing
  • Develop the intellectual independence necessary for future career development and life-long learning.

What skills will you develop / learn?

  • Diagnosis and non-surgical management of maxillofacial lesions and conditions
  • Management of chronic facial pain
  • In depth scientific knowledge on oral medical conditions
  • Management of oral mucosal disease and Salivary Gland disease
  • Diagnosis and management of bone disorders
  • Biopsy techniques
  • Clinical knowledge for medically complex patients
  • Be able to critically appraise scientific literature
  • Have written a thesis based upon scientific investigation undertaken in the field of endodontics, and learnt the fundamental principles of scientific investigation
  • Have acquired the essential attitudes and skills which enable independent continuing education and career development
  • Have gained the academic qualifications required to embark upon a career as a specialist in Oral Medicine – either in private practice or academia
  • After course completion what are you eligible to do?

    After successful completion of the course, you are eligible to be a registered as a maxillofacial physician (Oral Medicine Specialist) in New Zealand and Australia.

    Experiences from students

    Guangzhao (Simon) Guan

    Simon Guan (2019)“I graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB), and Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent) at the University of Otago. It was my intention to do further study in Oral Medicine after gaining a few years working experience, and Dunedin Dental School's reputation as New Zealand's center of excellence for dental treatment was a major in motivating my application in DClinDent.

    “Oral medicine is the non-surgical management of head and neck diseases. During the three years' study of DClinDent (Oral Medicine), I found the variety of work and the atmosphere of the dental hospital to be challenging and exciting, and this had reinforced my ambition to pursue a hospital-based career.”

    Staff expertise

    Dr Ajith D Polonowita


    Polonowita Devinda Ajith (2019)Dr A D Polonowita is a registered specialist in Oral Medicine in both Australia and New Zealand.

    Dr Ajith Polonowita graduated from dentistry with a BDS from the University of Otago. Following his experience as a house Surgeon in a maxillofacial unit in New Zealand and clinical tutoring at the School of Dentistry at the University of Otago, Dr Polonowita moved to Australia to a private practice in Victoria. Further specialist qualification was gained at the University of Melbourne, graduating with an MDSc in Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology in 2001. Membership of the Royal Australian College of Dental Surgeons (MRACDS) was gained in 2008.

    Current and past appointments – Oral Medicine:

    • Discipline Head of Oral Medicine, University of Otago
    • Academic lead and subject coordinator in Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology; School of Dentistry and BOHSc, La Trobe University, Victoria; Australia
    • Specialist consultant in oral medicine for Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB)
    • Private specialist service for Canterbury in New Zealand
    • Professional Practice Fellow, Post Graduate Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry, University Of Otago
    • Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer, University of Otago Medical School
    • Private Specialist in Oral Medicine for Northern Victoria, Australia
    • Editorial referee for New Zealand Medical Journal, New Zealand Dental Journal, British Medical Journal, Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache, Oral Surgery
    • Accredited specialist at Bendigo Base Hospital, Bendigo, Victoria
    • Dr A D Polonowita was a past Vice President of the Oral Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (OMSANZ) and committee member of continuing education for the Australasian Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM). He is also a member of the Australia and New Zealand Academy Orofacial Pain (ANZAOP). He has also lectured extensively and published many articles.
    • Board of Studies Oral medicine AHPRA
    • Equivalence committee Oral Medicine RACDS

    Dr A D Polonowita is a Paul Harris Fellow and has many other interests outside of specialist dentistry, including charity work with the Asian Tsunami.

    Dr Guangzhao (Simon) Guan

    BDS MB ChB DClinDent FOMAA

    Simon Guan (2019)Dr Simon Guan is a registered specialist in Oral Medicine in New Zealand.

    Dr Guan graduated from both BDS and MBChB at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Further specialist qualification was gained at the University of Otago, graduating with DClinDent in Oral Medicine in 2012.

    Currently, he is a senior lecturer and specialist consultant in oral medicine at University of Otago. His research interests include oral mucosal diseases and TMD.

    Course content: Year 1

    CLDN 910 Clinical Research

    • Biostatistics, research methods, and epidemiology
    • Microbiology and immunology
    • Biology and pathology of the oral cavity
    • General medicine, therapeutics, and pharmacology
    • Thesis protocol

    CLDN 920 Clinical Practice

    • Investigations and diagnostic principles
    • Clinical medicine for the dental specialist
    • Clinical practice – clinical oral medicine 1

    Course content: Year 2

    CLD9F Thesis Research, Clinical Research, and Clinical Practice 2

    • Clinical practice – clinical oral medicine 2

    Course content: Year 3

    CLDN9F Thesis Research, Clinical Research, and Clinical Practice 3

    • Clinical practice – clinical oral medicine 3

    Ongoing across all years

    Series of 11 modules available as revision on

    How to apply

    Start your application on the DClinDent regulations page

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