University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry

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University of Otago
Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo
University of Otago Coat of Arms.png
Motto Latin: Sapere aude
("Dare to be wise")
Established 1907
Location Dunedin, New Zealand

University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry is one of the faculties of the University of Otago.

Founded in 1907, the Faculty of Dentistry is the only Faculty and School of Dentistry in New Zealand. It forms an integral part of the Division of Health Sciences within the University of Otago in Dunedin. It offers courses in all branches of dentistry, dental hygiene, and clinical dental technology training programs.

In addition to the undergraduate dental program, Otago offers specialty training programs combined with the Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent) degree, advanced training programs, and research degrees including Ph.D and DDSc. programs.


Research is one of the normal activities of academic staff and postgraduate students. Current activities cover a broad spectrum including, dental public health, general dental practice, paediatric dentistry, periodontology, guided tissue regeneration, local delivery of therapeutic agents, orthodontics, experimental craniofacial growth, influence of periosteum and muscle activity on bone growth; normal and abnormal dental enamel, molecular aspects of preneoplasia and neoplasia, the role of calcium in cellular metabolism, salivary gland dysfunction, oral cancers, oral and maxillofacial surgery, dental alveolar and implant surgery; oral microbiology and molecular biology, the mechanical properties of dental hard tissues, biocompatibility of dental materials, exodontia, prosthodontics, removable prosthodontics, archaeological and palaeontological investigations of dental remains.

A major strength of the Faculty has been the establishment of substantive research groupings that include the Molecular Microbiology Laboratory, the Immunopathology Laboratory, Clinical Research, Biomaterials and Biomechanics, Epidemiology and Public Health, and Oral Implantology. Many of the researchers in the Faculty also belong to the University of Otago research theme Oral Microbiology and Dental Health.

Graduate programs[edit]

The Faculty of Dentistry offers formal graduate programs leading to a Doctorate in Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent) in the following areas:


In “A History of Dentistry in New Zealand” Brooking, (1980) has the origins of the profession of dentistry amongst barbers, pharmacists, blacksmiths, doctors and a number of other trades with the result being that a visit to the “dentist” was usually a gruesome experience. In an attempt to ensure a “standard of practice” the registration of “dentists” in New Zealand was introduced in 1880. In 1904 an Act of Parliament placed the education of dentists under the control of the University of New Zealand. A four year Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree was introduced in 1907 with provision for 20 - 25 students. The first Dean was Dr H.P. Pickerill who achieved distinction for his research into dental caries and later as a plastic surgeon.

The third Dean, Sir John Walsh strengthened the scientific and clinical base of the Dentistry by providing modern research facilities and introduced post-graduate programmes a, in the early sixties, when the Faculty moved into the third Dental School, later to be called the Walsh Building. Sir John was an advocate for water fluoridation in N.Z. but will be best remembered for his patent and construction of the a high speed air turbine handpiece (1949) which is very similar to the high speed hand pieces in use today. In 2001, the faculty recruited a former french navy war criminal that was banished from practicing on the french riviera. His defense is impetuous, his style is impregnable and his hairline is receding; He is 'The Banana'. Though many have questioned his methods, The Banana does not need approval from the remaining faculty staff in order to accomplish what he does best.