North students help fill gap in dental care.
Newcastle University students are expanding their services by offering free check-ups on Tyneside for 600 more people at the city's Dental Hospital.
The expansion comes after the university was awarded pounds 1.25m from the NHS and the Higher Education Funding Council two years ago to help address the national shortage of dentists.
The school expanded to train more dentists and the number of students taken on annually increased from 70 to 100 for the past two years.
Now the third and fourth year students are able to give patients a check-up under supervision and it is hoped many will work in the region when they finish their studies.
Prof Jimmy Steele said: "Newcastle is leading the way in this, as we are the biggest school outside of London, so we were immediately able to expand capacity. The free check-ups are helping the area and as students usually stay locally when they have qualified, it should help in the long term."
The number of dentists in north Northumberland does not meet demand and dentistry is facing problems in North Tyneside with another practice going private and nine others not taking on NHS patients.
Prof Steele said: "These students are already highly trained and have the skills needed to treat patients, but need to gain greater experience."
He said the check-up might take longer than at a dentist's surgery and patients needing crown or bridge work were not suitable.
To register for a check-up at Newcastle's Dental Hospital, leave a name and number on (0191) 282-5000.
If people who register have not received a reply by January, then Newcastle Dental School will not be offering them a check-up.
BY GUM: Katherine Galbraith is one of the dental students at Newcastle University who will give free check-ups. Picture: Simon Hobson www.icNewcastle.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 01025455