The University of Pretoria opens a top-notch Dental Teaching Laboratory

The Pre-clinical skills laboratory, worth approximately R5-million, will be used to train pre-clinical (3rd year) dental students in Restorative Dentistry (cavity preparation and restoring teeth) on “phantom heads” (i.e. artificial heads and jaws).

Addressing visitors during the opening of the dental teaching laboratory, Professor Thanyani Mariba - Dean of the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences said that the new generation of students demand modern ways of teaching.

“It is imperative that the University of Pretoria meets these demands. Our aim has always been to make sure that the quality of education that we offer students is second to none”, he said.

Prof Mariba emphasised that facilities such as the dental teaching laboratory are an indication of the importance that the University attach to quality education.

The laboratory will also be used to teach students how to perform restorative dentistry procedures before they are allowed to work on real life situations (mainly in their 4th and 5th years of study). Additionally, the new facility will enable students to also learn how to do endodontic treatment (root canal treatment) on extracted teeth, before they can perform it on live patients in their senior years.

“This new facility will enable us to train students with world class facilities - comparable with the best which are available in the world. The facilities were designed to duplicate the conditions which the students will experience in their clinical years. They will also use exactly the same type and quality of equipment e.g. dental drills, operating light, suction etc, found in the clinical wards,” said Mannfred Dannheimer – an associate professor in the Dental School’s Department of Odontology and also a person in charge of the laboratory.

Prof Francois de Wet - Head of the Department of Odontology pointed out additional technological features found in the new laboratory.

“We now also have ultra modern audio-visual facilities which will allow our staff to demonstrate certain techniques to students, and they will be able to see everything on their own personal TV monitors. We will also be able to show students DVD’s of modern techniques. We will also be able to do demonstrations in this lab., and then transmit it to two lecture halls in the building so that we can use the facility for Refresher Courses for dentists in private practice,” he said.

Mr Marc Perotti, a representative of Wright Millners (the company that installed the equipment) told the audience that it was a privilege to be associated with a project of this nature.

“South Africa is often referred to as a 3rd World country. But I think that Pretoria has 1st World standards in dentistry,” he said.

Karl O’Higgins, Director of Adec (a US company that supplied the equipment installed in the dental teaching laboratory) sent a congratulatory message that was delivered at the function. It partly reads as follows:
“It is clear that the University of Pretoria’s Dental School now offers one of the most advanced dental training facilities on the African continent and akin to anything we have seen around the world.”

Prof AJ Ligthelm, Dean of the Dental School, reminded the audience that projects of this kind do not just happen.

“People play a determining role in the motivation, planning and execution of the project,” he said.


Left:  Professor Thanyani Mariba - Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.  Right:  Prof AJ Ligthelm - Dean of the Dental School.

Mannfred Dannheimer - an associate professor in the Dental School’s Department of Odontology and the person in charge of the laboratory.

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