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Bristol’s new Dental School officially opens

Students outside the front of Bristol Dental School University of Bristol

Students and a patient on Clinic in a dental bay University of Bristol

A student and clinician in the Clinical Skills Laboratory University of Bristol

Press release issued: 8 September 2023

The University of Bristol’s new, purpose-designed Dental School will be officially opened today [Friday 8 September].

The £36 million facilities are located at the University’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and will provide the very latest clinical training for the education of dentists, hygienists and therapists, dental nurses, and wider dental team.

Spanning 7,300 square metres at 1 Trinity Quay, Avon Street, the Dental School will enable the University to increase the number of available student places by around 25 percent, with Bristol dental students contributing even more significantly to the local and national dental workforce. The refurbishment of the building has been led by construction company Kier Group.

There are 119 dental chairs over six clinical areas where students will be supported by a team of dental nurses, dental technicians, sterilisation staff, and patient administration teams. The increased space will also allow the University to respond to the NHS Long Term Plan which sets out a growth in dental and hygiene/therapy training.

Free dental treatment for the local community by undergraduate students, under the supervision of qualified clinical dentists will continue to be available at the new site. This is one of the first models for delivery of this training in the UK where a Higher Education Institute has direct responsibility for running CQC registered clinical facilities in which dental professionals train and has been designed in consultation with local NHS commissioners and Healthwatch Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Bristol dental students deliver up to 60,000 episodes of patient care to adults and children across the city and surrounding areas each year. If we are recruiting volunteers, and patients meet our acceptance criteria, they will be provided with a single course of treatment. Once that treatment is complete, patients will be discharged but can re-present for assessment in the future. The school will run a daily [during university term time] emergency dental clinic with patients being booked exclusively via 111. This service will double the daily availability of emergency dental appointments in the local area. All appointments will be pre-booked, and we are unable to accept any walk-in patients.

Reflecting the ethos of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, the University has been working closely with Bristol City Council and many local community groups, including via its Barton Hill Micro Campus, during the planning of the project. This has resulted in recruitment to various new roles at the Dental School and building relationships with local people so they know about the free treatment that could be available to them. The team will also be working closely with local schools, opening up opportunities for studying, and learning more about, careers in dentistry.

The design of the building is complemented by public art featuring bespoke characters The Denticles, created by Gav Strange, Director & Designer at Aardman, the Academy Award®-winning animation studio based in Bristol. These take the form of five sculptures at the front of the building as well as character cushions for the children’s waiting area. In addition, local artist Bex Glover has designed and painted two murals incorporating the toothy characters – one for the main reception area which features Bristol landmarks and one for the children’s waiting area with animals, plants, and flowers local to the area.

Dr Barry Main, Head of the Dental School and Consultant Senior Lecturer in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, said: “The majority of teaching in our new primary-care facility will enable students to work as part of multi-professional teams. Being alongside trainees in dental hygiene, therapy, and nursing mirrors the environment of real-world practice. While we will retain our links with local NHS partners to deliver training in specialist clinics and in postgraduate education, our new primary-care focussed model will allow a tailor-made approach that ensures each student leaves us ready for day one of foundation training. Our new curriculum, developed in the last five years, is underpinned by an ethos of personal development, evidence-based practice, and integrated patient care. And our new School will bring the practical embodiment of that curriculum to the benefit of our students and their patients, as we continue to provide treatment in an inclusive environment for the local community.”

Final year dental student Joey Brett said: “I'll be going into the final year of my dentistry degree, and I'm really excited about working in the new Dental School. The interior of the building has been completely redesigned for its new use. The bays are spacious and appealing to both patients and caregivers and there is a fresh and modern feel throughout. It will be a really nice environment in which to welcome patients and I hope our patients will feel the same. The location, right next to Temple Meads railway station, is convenient. The new school sits at the heart of an area of the city undergoing redevelopment and there are great views over Trinity Quay. It just helps make a visit to the Dental School more pleasant.”

Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice-Chancellor, and President of the University of Bristol added: “It is fantastic to see these wonderful new facilities open today. This marks a significant milestone for the University’s strategy as we embark on a mission to both revolutionise dental education and make a profound, positive impact on our local community.”

Jason Taylor, Regional Director at Kier Construction Western & Wales, said: "We are extremely proud to have delivered this project, which will provide the University of Bristol with more capacity and new, high-quality facilities for its dental students. This project builds on our long-standing relationships in the city with the University, Bristol City Council, and our strong local supply chain. Kier is committed to delivering social infrastructure for communities, and the new dental school is an important development which will benefit the people of Bristol for years to come.”

Gav Strange, creator of The Denticles said: “We’re delighted that the Denticles will be there to welcome visitors to Bristol’s amazing new Dental School. We hope they’ll bring some extra fun and make people smile.”

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