University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

Download full 2016 archive Page archived at: Fri, 13 May 2016 14:40:28 +1000

Dental Medicine

Further information


  1. Information about the structure of the course
  2. Units of study making up the course
  3. Discipline areas covered by the units of study

1. Information about the structure of the course

Year 1

During the first year of the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program, considerable focus is given to Integrated Life Sciences. The case-based tutorial component requires students to listen to online biomedical lectures and attend lectures which focus on dentally relevant medical learning and scenarios. Oral bioscience is presented on the Camperdown campus and this includes a Head and Neck anatomy course. Select dentistry-focused learning is provided at the Surry Hills and Westmead campuses. 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. Additionally, time each 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. Concurrently, students learn skills to enable them to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues; perform oral hygiene and preventive oral health procedures and promote oral health. Students are also introduced to research. At the commencement of Year 1, students will be introduced to Information Technology and Research Methodology which will equip them to critically review dental literature. This inquiring approach underpins all learning during the entire course.

Year 2

As the students acquire pre-clinical and clinical skills, they will develop personally and professionally, to meet the high standards required to emerge as leaders in the profession. In Year 2, Integrated Life Science teaching continues and students commence the year with a course in Local Anaesthesia. Simulated learning in restorative and endodontic procedures continues, 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.

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 experienced a broad range of clinical procedures expected of newly qualified dentists. Academic writing, along with evidence-based research projects are a feature of the research unit throughout this year. Students will have the opportunity to participate in an electives placement which may occur locally, interstate or overseas. It is an opportunity to prepare for a particular career direction, explore different experiences or enhance skills in particular areas of a student's choice. Successful completion of an Elective will be recorded on the student transcript.

Year 4

The final year of the Doctor of Dental Medicine commences with an intensive two-week course in advanced restorative techniques, Fixed Prosthodontics and Implantology. Following this, integrated learning activitites continue through the presentation of lectures, tutorial sessions, problem based learning and evidence-based practice sessions, majority of their time spent in clinical practice in metropolitan, rural and remote community clinics which imparts a strong sense of the needs of the general Australian population.

2. Units of study making up the course

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 Council are based. The content is organised into units of study consisting of defined discipline areas. Each unit of study consists of 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 clinical education, disciplines are integrated as students acquire a greater scope of clinical skills.

The units of study are:

  • Foundations of Clinical Dentistry A (total 25 credit points)
    Foundations of Clinical Dentistry B (total 21 credit points)
  • Integrated Life Sciences (total 44 credit points)
  • Research (total 12 credit points)
  • Integrated Clinical Dentistry A (total 26 credit points)
  • Integrated Clinical Dentistry B (total 29 credit points)
  • Integrated Clinical Dentistry C (total 35 credit points)
  • Electives (optional zero credit point)

3. Discipline areas covered by the units of study

The following discipline areas are represented within the units of study:


Cariology introduces the concept of primary care dentistry and 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.

Clinical Dentistry

Clinical Dentistry builds on the discipline specific content of the earlier years, to enhance 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 Sydney Dental Hospital and Westmead Centre for Oral Health. The objective is for the student to develop a clear understanding of the scope of specialist services available to patients in each of the disciplines. In light of this, students will learn 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.

Dental Biomaterials

Dental Biomaterials aims to provide students with a sound scientific basis for understanding the intrinsic properties of dental materials and biomaterials. The learning material aims to provide a sound foundation whereby the clinical applications and limitations may be understood.

Diet and Nutrition

Diet and Nutrition is delivered via workshop format and introduces the students to the concept of diet and nutrition in the dental setting and the relationship to dental caries and erosion. It covers the multitude of aspects that influence food choices and addresses the various methods of collecting and assessing dietary data and discusses the tools that can be utilised to assist patients in setting achievable dietary goals.


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 1 and with students progressing to patient-based experience, first performing endodontic procedures on single canal teeth and in Year 3 and 4 on multi-canal teeth.


The Ethics program vertically integrates through all four years of the DMD program. Ethics aims to equip students with a basic understanding of important ethical principles and legal issues that are relevant to the dental profession in Australia. Students will explore key issues associated with clinical practice early on in the course, including topics on healthcare ethics, privacy and confidentiality, consent and refusal of treatment, capacity, civil responsibility, duty of care and negligent conduct. More complex concepts of ethical decision making and resolving ethical dilemmas within the dental settings will be introduced to students as they begin their clinical training in third and fourth year. Various legal issues associated with the practice of dentistry will be explored throughout the course including information rights, professional misconduct and criminal liability. Legal materials such as Commonwealth and State legislation, as well as NSW precedents will be covered.


Gerodontology 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. It covers a wide range of lecture topics, from nutrition and aging to oral cancer and other pathologic lesions of the elderly patient.


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 surgical and undertake prosthodontic procedures.

Life Sciences

Life Sciences occupies a significant portion of learning in Years 1 and 2 and is incrementally recontextualised 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 case based learning model is used to assist students to develop 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 oral bioscience is undertaken which, together with general foundation studies, provides the foundation knowledge which strengthens the understanding of, and integration with, the clinical disciplines.


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. The learning material commences with an introduction to 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.

Oral Radiology

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 abnormalities and pathology. 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 radiographs and recording of patient details. In Year 3 students take and interpret Panoramic and Cephalometric extra-oral radiographs.

Oral Pathology and Medicine

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 content 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.

Oral Surgery

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.

Orofacial Pain

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.


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.

Paediatric Dentistry

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.


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 simulation clinics in the early stages and develop their skills through patient-based clinical experience throughout the course.

Population 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.

Professional Practice

Professional Practice focuses on professional conduct, with the patient’s interest as the primary priority, and equips students for successful professional practice. 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.


Prosthodontics in its earliest teaching aims to introduce students to the discipline of 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.


Research commences in Year 1 by familiarising students with concepts in epidemiology and research methodology. Students will gain skills in identifying different study types and understanding basic biostatistics. In year 2, students will learn how to document and report a literature search, and use various indices of publication quality. Critical analysis of problems will also be a feature of year 2. In Year 3, students engage in a research project, preparing a draft report on their individual/group research projects by the end of the year. An intensive course on Evidence-Based Dental Practice (EBP) comprises a significant part of year 4 research unit of study. Students will apply EBP principles in developing patient care plans for clinical case scenarios. At the completion of this unit of study students will submit their completed research project report based on feedback following submission of the draft report.

Special Care Dentistry

Special Care Dentistry aims to develop basic knowledge and understanding of common intellectual and physical disabilities, neurodegenerative disorders and mental illnesses. The program aims to develop confidence and competence in the management of the special needs patient with a focus on building rapport, patience and modifications to treatment modalities to provide optimum oral health care. The importance of communication with both patient and care-giver is also highlighted.


Trauma is presented collaboratively between the disciplines of Endodontics, Oral Surgery and Paediatric Dentistry. Students learn about the management of minor trauma to the oral hard and soft tissue.

Tooth Conservation

Tooth Conservation covers clinical aspects of tooth conservation including treatment planning and provision of patient treatment for acute care and routine preventive and restorative procedures. This 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.