LA TROBE University has opened a new dental laboratory with equipment that will improve dentistry students' experience before they enter work.
Head of the university's dental faculty Mark Gussy said students who decided to study dentistry at a regional campus would now have the same learning opportunities as those in the city.
"We’re right up there with the urban universities," Professor Gussy said.
It's the icing on the cake in terms of what we can do to prepare students.Mark Gussy
"It's very cutting edge and in terms of rural dental teaching right across the country it's fantastic," he said.
Professor Gussy said the new facility would add to students' education.
"It's the icing on the cake in terms of what we can do to prepare students," he said.
The refurbished laboratory is a fully functional dental laboratory.
It has new audiovisual and digital radiography equipment and eight dental chairs donated by Dental Health Service Victoria.
Professor Gussy said the refurbishment and new equipment cost about $390,000.
He said it would have been more expensive had it not been for the donation of the dentist chairs.
"If we had to pay for it, it would take it way over the half a million mark," he said.
"It tipped the cost down and meant that we are able to redirect funding into audiovisual equipment which is quite sophisticated," he said.
Professor Gussy said dentistry students used to have to practise their skills on manikins with plastic teeth.
But from now on students will practice dental work on each other.
"Our first exercise will be an examination of each other," Professor Gussy said.
He said this would remove the anxiety of having to deal with "real live patients".
He said students would of course only perform non-invasive procedures on each other such as teeth cleaning.
He said it was a "safe, secure environment" to learn dentistry skills.
He said students were excited to use the new laboratory.
"We even have graduates coming back now and commenting on how they wished they had access to those facilities," he said.
Students will start using the new facilities next week.
Students will also gain work experience through placements in community dental agencies across Victoria.
Professor Gussy was appointed head of the dental faculty last month.
His research work includes examining the oral health of rural, Indigenous, migrant and refugee children.