Renewing the Oral Health Centre of Western Australia

09/06/2022 | 3 mins

The Oral Health Centre of WA (OHCWA) has been the only institution in the State to offer tertiary training in dentistry throughout its twenty years of operation.

The centre's philosophy — students learn best by treating patients under close expert supervision, or by observing general and specialist dentists treating a wide range of dental conditions  continues to benefit UWA Dental School students as they provide dental treatment and oral care for vulnerable patients. 

OHCWA patients are those who are unable to afford private dental care including elderly pensioners, individuals and families on low incomes, people with disabilities, carers, homeless people, single parents and their children, Indigenous people and refugees.

Since opening, students and their supervisors have treated more than 300,000 patients and close to 800 students have graduated. Many graduates continue to attend professional development sessions hosted by OHCWA which has delivered wide-ranging benefits to the community and dental profession.

The OHCWA pre-clinical (Op Tech) teaching facilities provides students with a safe environment to develop the dexterity, coordination and depth perception that is vital for providing pain-free treatment before they use the tools on real patients.

Dental Simulation Lab head with its mouth split and broken
Image: Many pre-clinical practice heads are in a poor state.

The volume of repairs needed for the ageing equipment in the pre-clinical teaching facilities is growing but UWA now has a window of opportunity to redesign the lab to accommodate more students and integrate the latest equipment and software.

"Clinical simulators have provided me with the competence but also the confidence required to provide high quality treatment and care for when I start seeing real patients.

I hope that we can continue to update this facility for future students. "

Jim Rae, 2nd year Student in the Doctor of Dental Medicine Course
Dental Student Jim Rae practicing on a dental simulation head 

UWA has allocated a core investment of $2.2 million to make the $2.9 million refurbishment possible, and the Western Australian Dental Foundation (WADF) has thrown its support behind the project by taking a leading role to secure the final funds.

WADF now invites alumni and friends of UWA Dental School, including the dental profession and the wider community, to donate to UWA for the Dental Clinical Simulation Laboratory project. The refurbishment is due in December 2022.

"As graduates of UWA Dental School, we have benefited from the foresight of those who established and have developed it over many decades," said The Honourable Dr John Day (BSc '78, BDSc '83), Patron of the Dental Clinical Simulation Laboratory Project. "Members of the profession now have the opportunity to ensure students of the future can continue to enjoy learning in contemporary, state-of-the-art, facilities."

For queries or to discuss making a contribution, contact:
Kate McKenzie, Development Manager
(08) 6488

To donate online, visit and follow the prompts.

Learn more about WA Dental Foundation.

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