ADA chief opens new UQ Oral Health Centre

UQ Oral Health Centre.
An artists model of the new UQ Oral Health Centre.

As The University of Queensland opened its new $134 million Oral Health Centre on Thursday, Australian Dental Association Federal President Dr Rick Olive has provided a snapshot of how far dental education has come.

Dr Olive, a School of Dentistry student in the early 1970s, was a guest at Thursday’s official opening at Herston.

In the lead-up, he told of the dramatic contrast to the facilities available when he learnt his profession at the university’s former facility at Turbot Street in Brisbane’s CBD.

“We were the last cohort to use the old pump-up chairs and slow speed belt-driven handpieces,” Dr Olive said, comparing it to the 187 top-of-the-range chairs at the new seven-level centre.

The new OHC teaching facilities include clinical simulation areas, pre-clinical laboratories, lecture/seminar rooms, and research laboratories. Students have access to over 150 dental chairs distributed across 11 clinics, covering general practice dentistry, oral rehabilitation, paediatric dentistry, orthodontics, oral radiology, oral medicine, periodontics, endodontics, special needs dentistry and other specialist services, as well as a state of the art imaging centre, a learning centre and library.

Areas of specialist expertise will include oral cancer diagnosis and treatment, with clinics for oral cancer outpatient care, including speech pathology, dietetics and ENT, involving health professionals as well as students from other schools in the UQ Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences. These will be conjoint with other multi-disciplinary inter-professional clinics, including special needs dentistry. This will provide excellent physical integration of patient care with ready access to the Queensland Radium Institute, the RBWH Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, the RBWH Maxillo-Facial Unit, and other relevant inpatient and outpatient care facilities.

Students are educated in multi-functional dental simulation laboratories using professional-standard equipment.

“It’s a long way from the days when the smell of eugenol (oil of cloves) was ever-present,” Dr Olive said.

“I remember my first day at Turbot Street and the first time somebody fired up a turbine handpiece.

“The noise made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and I had some serious doubts about my career choice at that stage.”

Dr Olive completed Dentistry with Honours in 1975 and a Masters in Orthodontics in 1979.

His association with the Australian Dental Association spans back to 1981, when he was elected to a branch council, and he has since been recognised as a Member in the Order of Australia.

Dr Olive will continue working closely with UQ after accepting an adjunct professorship in the School of Dentistry.

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