SINGAPORE – The opening of a new $370 million national dental center in Kent Ridge will significantly increase the capacity for subsidized specialist dental treatment for more severe or complex dental conditions. The National University Centre for Oral Health Singapore will also see more patients, nearly 500 a day, a 40 percent increase from its patient load four years ago. Professor John Eu-Li Wong, chief executive of the National University Health System (NUHS), said the 11-story, 34,000 sq m building could accommodate the relocated National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Dentistry and an increased annual undergraduate student intake – from the current 60 to 80 by 2021.
The center provides dental services in areas such as orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, periodontics, and oral and maxillofacial surgery, which addresses diseases and injuries to the face, mouth and jaws. The center also provides multidisciplinary specialist care for geriatric patients and those with special needs and complex conditions. All of its treatment rooms are wheelchair accessible, with one room featuring a wheelchair tilt chair enables patients to receive treatment in their wheelchairs. There is also a bariatric dental chair for patients who may not be managed in a conventional dental chair due to weight issues.
Four treatment rooms are larger than usual to handle patients with special needs, such as those dealing with claustrophobia or behavioral issues. At the event, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who officially opened the new center, announced that a new two-year part-time Graduate Diploma in Geriatric Dentistry would also start this year at the NUS Faculty of Dentistry.
This is to train dentists to deliver evidence-informed care to treat the elderly.
Together with the existing National Dental Centre Singapore in Outram Campus, the new center will significantly increase the country’s capacity for subsidized specialist dental treatment for complex dental conditions, said Mr. Gan. The center is part of the NUHS and is located next to the National University Hospital. Construction took place over three years, from 2015 to 2018, and the center opened to the public in January this year.
Compared to the previous NUS Faculty of Dentistry, the new centre has an additional 18,000 sq m for training and research purposes. The dental procedures at the new center are comparable to that of the previous NUH Dental Clinic. Besides the NUS Faculty of Dentistry, the center also houses training facilities for the Nanyang Polytechnic Oral Health Therapy program.
NUS Dentistry students will learn in innovative ways, such as using eye-tracker devices to understand how they review and assess radiographs. They will also be trained to deliver local anesthesia through virtual learning and haptic technology, which involves using virtual tools to create the feeling of touch. The faculty will also be able to expand key research areas like regenerative biology and tissue engineering and spearhead clinical trials and population health research to better understand the mechanisms linking dental and chronic diseases here.