University of Sydney Handbooks - 2012 Archive

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Further Information

  1. Course structure
  2. Discipline areas of study
  3. Course rules

Course Structure

(a) Year 1

During the first year of the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program, considerable focus is given to Integrated Life Sciences. The tutorial component requires students to listen to pre-recorded medical lectures and attend lectures which focus on dentally relevant medical learning and scenarios. Craniofacial Biology is presented on the Camperdown campus. Select dentistry-focused learning is provided on the City and Westmead campuses. Additionally, one day per week is devoted specifically to learning dental skills in a simulated learning environment, predominantly at the Sydney Dental Hospital, including some sessions at the faculty’s other simulation facility at Westmead Hospital. Students learn and practise dental skills and techniques progressively in preparation for patient based clinical training by the middle of the second year. Underpinning Life and Biomedical Sciences knowledge provides a sound base from which students can build further knowledge as their level of sophistication and clinical experience grows. Students are also introduced to research and learn to perform a critical analysis of dentally relevant publications. Close to the completion of this first year, students are allocated patients, parents and/or caregivers and children in whom they promote oral health and perform oral hygiene and preventive oral health procedures. Students will be familiarised in the first weeks of Year 1 with information technology and research methodology which will equip them to commence a critical review of dental literature.
This inquiring approach underpins all learning during the full four years of the course.

(b) Year 2

Throughout the process of acquiring pre-clinical and clinical skills, student importantly undergo personal and professional development to meet the high standards required to emerge as leaders in the profession. In Year 2, a reduced level of Integrated Life Science teaching continues and students commence the year with a course in Local Anaesthesia, with patient based Exodontia commencing in April. Simulated learning in restorative and endodontic procedures continue, preparing students for patient-based clinical training from the second semester onwards. Students also rotate between the Sydney Dental Hospital and the Westmead Centre for Oral Health situated at Westmead Hospital. Increased didactic teaching of the other dental disciplines continues, together with select dentistry PBLs. Students commence their research project after having delivered proof of capabilities to critically analyse the dental literature.

(c) Year 3

While students are now well prepared to enter the intensive clinical environments of the remainder of the course, simulated learning continues, alongside patient-based training, and by the end of Year 3, students will have acquired close to the the full scope of clinical procedures expected of newly qualified dentists. Equipped with the necessary professional attributes, students increasingly receive clinical training in metropolitan, rural and remote community clinics and gain a strong sense of the needs of the general Australian population. Work on the research project continues throughout this year.

(d) Year 4

The final year of the Doctor of Dental Medicine commences with an intensive two-week course in Fixed Prosthodontics and Implantology. Following this, integrated learning continues through tutorial sessions, with the remaining time spent on honing clinical skills in metropolitan, rural and remote clinics. The research project is completed and submitted by the end of August for assessment.

Discipline Areas of Study

The Doctor of Dental Medicine is aligned to the oral health care needs of the Australian population on which the “Competencies of the newly graduated dentist” of the Australian Dental Board are based. The content is organised according to seven broadly defined disciplinary areas consisting of smaller Units of Study (UoS). These disciplinary areas constitute discipline clusters of closely related/cognate disciplines to promote/facilitate the delivery of the degree. While the didactic teaching is discipline based, once students commence patient-based training, disciplines are integrated as students acquire a greater scope of clinical skills.

(a) Integrated Life Sciences

(total of 41 credit points over the course)

This area of study occupies a significant portion of learning in Year 1 and is incrementally replaced by clinically focused units of study as the course progresses. Foundation learning in addition to relevant online medical lectures are provided by the Sydney Medical School. A hybrid problem based learning model is followed by the acquisition of an understanding of the human organ systems. Dentistry students review information obtained from lectures, in small groups, facilitated by dentistry educators, to gain an integrated understanding of common medical problems and their dental relevance. A unit of Craniofacial Biology is undertaken which, together with general foundation studies, provides the foundation knowledge which strengthens the understanding of, and integration with, the clinical disciplines.

(b) Research

(total of 12 credit points over the course)

This unit of study commences in Semester 1 of Year 1 with familiarising students with the library, conducting literature searches and managing information, followed by Evidence-Based Dental Practice and research methodology. Students, working in groups, submit a literature review during Year 2 and commence engaging in hands-on research. At the completion of this unit of study, students submit a manuscript in a format required for publication in a selected scientific journal. An important aim of this unit of study is to foster an evidence-based and strong inquiring approach to learning throughout the course.

(c) Professional and Community Practice

(total of 13 credit points over the course)

This unit of study comprises three cognate disciplines namely Professional Practice, Population Oral Health and Primary Care Dentistry. The unit of study will commence in Year 1 by providing students with the knowledge, skills and attributes as members of a dental team, motivational communication skills, initial skills for managing anxious patients, together with oral health promotion and disease prevention. Students will also be introduced to the study of disease from a population perspective. Finally, students will be equipped with the necessary skills to successfully run a private practice.

Professional Practice aims to provide students with the knowledge of efficient and effective clinical operatory practice and applying occupational health and safety requirements in a team environment while delivering routine dental services. With the focus on professional and ethical conduct, with the patient’s interest as the primary priority, this unit equips students to run a successful private dental practice. Graduates will understand the implications of contractual obligations, equal employment requirements, generating income and fulfilling financial obligations. An important component of the teaching is effective communication skills for motivation and behaviour change that would be delivered in close association with Primary care Dentistry.

Primary Care Dentistry provides students with an understanding of the nature of dental caries including its clinical presentation, natural history, epidemiology, determinants, prevention (both primary and non-invasive secondary prevention). Students acquire the skills to apply both primary and non-invasive secondary preventive measures. The clinical component of this discipline, together with periodontics, constitutes students’ first patient-based clinical experience in Year 1 when parents/caregivers and children are motivated to maintain good oral health.

Population Oral Health aims to provide students with an understanding of how dental disease impacts on populations with Aboriginal communities, special needs and medically compromised groups, used as specific examples. In addition, the epidemiology of dental caries, periodontal disease and maxillofacial trauma are presented.

(d) Comprehensive Care Dentistry I

(total of 35 credit points over the course)

This unit of study comprises the disciplines of Tooth Conservation, Endodontics, and a combined module of Trauma. It commences in Year 1 with simulation based training in Tooth Conservation, with patient-based restorative clinical experience commencing in Semester 2 Year 2 and continuing in an integrated manner as skills in other clinical disciplines are acquired.

Tooth Conservation covers clinical aspects of tooth conservation including treatment planning and handling patient concerns regarding restorative procedures and materials. Training commences early in Year 1 in a simulated learning environment where students are introduced to dental instrumentation and the dental operatory environment, together with simple restorative procedures. Complexity of restorative procedures increases throughout Years 2 and 3, with initial practice of all procedures in the simulation clinic.

Endodontics provides students with an understanding of anatomy, histology and physiology of the pulp-dentine complex, the aetiology of pulpal disease and the required treatment. Training commences in the simulation clinic in Year 2 and with students progressing to patient-based experience, performing endodontic procedures on single canal and multi canal teeth from Year 3.

Trauma is a combined module and is presented collaboratively between the disciplines of Endodontics, Oral Surgery and Paediatric Dentistry. Students receive training in the management of minor trauma to the oral hard and soft tissue.

(e) Comprehensive Care Dentistry II

(total of 31 credit points over the course)

This unit of study is a combination of Prostodontics, Implantology, Periodontology, Occlusion, and Geriatric Dentistry. The latter is a combined module and will be presented together with the discipline of Orthodontics.

Prosthodontics in its earliest teaching aims to introduce students to the discipline or oral rehabilitation. The program develops students’ skills in the handling of impression and cast materials, taking alginate impressions, and pouring up impressions to produce stone casts. Students are subsequentially provided with the knowledge to understand the consequences of tooth loss, replacing missing teeth, types of dentures, and components of partial and full dentures and their function. In Year 3, students are introduced to Fixed Prosthodontics which aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills related to principles and technique of preparing teeth for full coverage restorations and partial aesthetic restorations ie porcelain veneers, including provisional restorations, shade selection, cementation and clinical outcomes. The program progresses from pre-clinical skills and knowledge development to clinical application in second semester. In addition, students participate in a five day intensive clinical program at the beginning of Year 4 during which, in addition to full gold and ceramo-metal crowns and bridges, each student restores a single tooth with an all-ceramic crown, with in-house processing from pouring the impression, trimming and sectioning the die and Procera scanning.

Implantology introduces students to the application of dental implants in the Integrated Clinics and commences with a preclinical laboratory exercise for a single tooth. Specific treatment planning sessions in collaboration with the OMS guide students through decision making and work-up for single tooth implants and implant-retained overdentures; students assist during surgery and undertake prosthodontic procedures.

Periodontology covers normal anatomy and histology of periodontal tissue, the composition and role of oral biofilm and periodontal disease, the removal of biofilm, classification of periodontal disease and the treatment and periodontal maintenance and supplementary treatment. Students are introduced to this discipline in the early stages and together with caries management, it constitutes the earliest patient-based clinical experience which students undertake as part of their studies.

Occlusion provides students with information on the dynamics of the jaw-joint-muscle-tooth system (stomatognathic system), as a dynamic system for function with implications for patients’ function, nutrition and general health. This module adds to the introductory information on the handling of alginate impression materials, clinical procedures in recording a face bow transfer record and the applications of articulators taught in Years 1 and 2.

Geriatric Dentistry teaches students how to render comprehensive oral health care and teach prevention to a dynamic, diverse and rapidly growing elderly population. Students learn the complexity of aging, patient management and the importance of dentistry in total patient care. This module considers the dental needs of the rapidly changing and ethnically diverse geriatric population. It covers a wide range of lecture topics, from nutrition and aging to oral cancer and other pathologic lesions of the geriatric patient.

(f) Orthodontics and Paediatric Dentistry

(total of 17 Credit Points over the course)

Both of these disciplines commence in Year 1 with an emphasis on the introduction of oral health education and disease prevention in childhood.

Orthodontics introduces students to orthodontics as a dental specialty and an understanding of the role it plays in general dentistry. Students gain an understanding of the concept of normal and malocclusion. Knowledge of craniofacial growth and development is acquired in a coordinated way together with basic histology and embryology to foster an understanding of the aetiology of orthodontic problems. Subsequent to this, students are able to diagnose different malocclusions, obtain and analyse necessary records and formulate a problem list with a tentative treatment plan. Students gain practical experience in the orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning process on real patients together with practical knowledge of the operation and mode of action of various orthodontic appliances, along with the indications for various appliances. In addition, students acquire an understanding of the common problems and complications associated with orthodontic treatment. Students gain an understanding of the process of comprehensive orthodontic treatment in the management of various malocclusions in different patient age groups, through observing specialists performing such treatment. The management of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and how to diagnose and treat this condition is a further component to student experience in this module. The module will conclude with a series of seminars in Year 4 during which students have the opportunity to share information, put and have questions answered about their patients` treatment and share experiences and complications encountered during the course of treatment.

Paediatric Dentistry develops caring and professional dentists who have the basic knowledge and competency to manage paediatric patients in general dental practice and with the ability to maintain and update this knowledge. Teaching will focus on behaviour management, pain control, the management of caries and dental anomalies in paediatric patients, together with oral pathology and the management of paediatric patients with special needs.

(g) Oral Surgical and Diagnostic Sciences

(total of 19 credit points over the course)

This unit of study comprises Oral Radiology, Oral Pathology and Medicine, Orofacial Pain, and Oral Surgery. The latter three disciplines are presented in an integrated manner in Years 3 and 4, while Oral Radiology is primarily delivered in Years 1 and 2 and subsequent to this is integrated in clinical practice.
Local Anaesthesia and a component of Exodontia are introduced in Year 2.

Oral Radiology guides students in the understanding of all terminology related to Dentomaxillofacial radiology and to gain the ability to apply the theory of physics and radiation biology, projection geometry and film/electronic sensor image acquisition and processing to clinical situations. Students also learn to recognise normal radiographic anatomy and identify caries and alveolar bone loss. Students practice taking bitewing radiographs of premolars and molars; periapical radiographs of the dentition using paralleling and bisecting angle techniques; film processing technique from the phase of exposure to the finished radiograph, using both conventional silver-halide-based film imaging and digital imaging, together with the accurate mounting of the radiographs and recording of patient details. In Year 3 students take and interpret Panoramic and Cephalometric extra-oral radiographs

Oral Pathology and Medicine assists students to develop a critical understanding of the maxillofacial and oral diseases as well as systemic diseases with oral manifestations that they may encounter in the course of their professional career and be called upon to diagnose, prevent and treat. The course aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to understand the epidemiology, the aetiology and pathogenesis of conditions that affect the oral and maxillofacial tissues. This will facilitate the diagnosis of the more common oral conditions or to assist students in arriving at a differential diagnosis thereby allowing for correct patient management or referral to relevant specialists for appropriate management.

Orofacial Pain provides an understanding of the assessment and diagnosis of orofacial pain and temporomandibular disorders. Students gain an understanding of anatomy and physiology of craniofacial structures including the temporomandibular joints, jaw muscles and trigeminal nerve and particularly of the peripheral nerve distribution of the major trigeminal nerve trunks and other cranial nerves, the anatomical relations of the structures they innervate, and their primary central connections.

Oral Surgery commences in Year 2 with a course in Local Anesthesia and exodontia whereby students are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and practical skills to safely administer local anaesthetics and carry out extraction of teeth. This module is designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills in the principles and practice of surgery. Emphasis is placed both on the technical aspects of surgery, as well as the integration of basic sciences to form the appropriate scientific basis for the clinical practice of surgery. The remainder of the course is presented in an integrated manner with Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine.

(h) Integrated Clinical Dentistry

(total of 24 credit points over the course)

This unit of study builds on the discipline specific training and the integrated clinic sessions completed in earlier years, this unit will enhance the student's ability to integrate all aspects of patient care within the full range of teaching environments, including metropolitan and rural placements, as well as the main teaching centres of SDH and WCOH. The UoS will enhance the development of a clear understanding of the scope of specialist services available to patients in each of the disciplines. In light of this, students will understand their limitations in providing aspects of patient care and will know when and where to refer patients for more specialised treatment. Students will also become competent in integrating their knowledge in treatment of medically compromised patients and be able to communicate effectively with a range of health practitioners to ensure the best possible standard of dental care.