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Life as an oral health student

4 May 2018
What it's like to study oral health
Go behind-the-scenes with a Bachelor of Oral Health student, to find out about student life, lectures, career goals and working with teeth at the University of Sydney School of Dentistry.

We asked Bachelor of Oral Health student Andrew Sommerville 15 questions about studying oral health at the Sydney Dental School. Here's what we found out:

15 questions with Andrew Sommerville

1. Studying at Westmead

Sydney Dental School is based at one of Australia's largest health precincts, Westmead. This gives students the opportunity to interact with real patients and gain clinical skills before treating patients in real-life. 

Andrew's favourite thing about studying at Westmead is the demographic of patients.

2. University life

When we asked Andrew, what surprised him the most about the University, he replied, "being less of a student, but a student in the professional hospital environment." 

From the first week of the course, our students spend time in the simulation clinic, becoming familiar with the anatomy of the oral cavity, the instruments and patient positioning. In second semester, they get the opportunity to look into one another's mouths and, by the second year, students are treating patients in public dental health clinics.

3. Lectures

The University of Sydney consists of highly respected academics and industry experts willing to spread their knowledge and support their students. Our Bachelor of Oral Health students learn from internationally-renowned dental professionals. 

Andrew said his lecturers were, "experts in their fields, and very knowledgeable with years of experience and research behind them."

4. Favourite thing about oral health

His favourite thing about oral health is that small consistent preventative measures can improve quality of life - such as simple brushing. 

As part of 'putting the mouth into health' dentistry research, Professor Chris Peck said, "poor oral health can contribute to major health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, premature births and dementia. Maintaining good oral health helps keep the whole body healthy."

Revealing how little oral health care is beneficial for overall health is another positive aspect of studying oral health.

5. Career goals

Graduates of the Bachelor of Oral Health degree will be able to practice as dental therapists, dental hygienists or oral health educators in the public sector or in private practice. They can provide dental care in a variety of settings including community healthcare centres, public hospitals, and community and aboriginal medical services.

In 10 years' time, Andrew plans to make a difference in regional communities by implementing long term health goals.

6. Advice for future oral health students

Andrew chose an oral health degree because he enjoys working with people and using his hands. Like many other health professions, oral hygienists interact with patients and provide dental therapy treatment and education to patients and communities. 

"If you are community minded and enjoy helping people, definitely get into it," Andrew said.

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