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HRH The Princess Royal officially opens QMUL’s new Dental School

It was all smiles in Whitechapel today as Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal gave Queen Mary University of London’s new Dental School, embedded within The Royal London Dental Hospital, the royal seal of approval.

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The Princess Royal toured the £78m facilities, meeting and talking to dental staff and students from QMUL and Barts Health NHS Trust – as well as surprising patients being cared for.

Among those who The Princess Royal will met and chatted with on her tour of the facilities was young patient Rosanna Lucas. The 10 year-old from Havering presented Her Royal Highness with a posy of flowers. When aged eight, Rosanna had four teeth removed by the hospital team.

After her tour, The Princess Royal unveiled a plaque to celebrate the occasion – the UK’s first new dental school and hospital to open in 40 years – and said: “It is a pleasure and a privilege to see the real step changes in technology used today. It has moved on quite a bit and new buildings like this give the opportunity to see how well it works for everyone. There is a very nice atmosphere here and I’m happy everything is going so well for patients."

Following more than a decade of planning and construction, the brand-new dental facilities are the most modern and technologically advanced in the UK, meaning a vastly improved patient experience for the 70,000 appointments that take place at the hospital each year and an enhanced educational environment for students.

The move to the five-storey premises, occupying an area equivalent to almost three football pitches, took place over a six-week period in spring 2014.

Dr Philip Taylor, Clinical Director for Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust, commented:  “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome The Princess Royal. We hope that the visit provided Her Royal Highness with a good insight into our excellent facilities and the dedication of our teams to ensuring the bright future of dental health in London.”

People from Whitechapel, across London and beyond are referred to the Dental Hospital for a range of care including orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, restorative dentistry and oral and maxillofacial surgery.

Ranked as one of the top dental schools in the UK, QMUL trains around 400 dental students in the new facilities each year, making up an active part of the hospital’s clinical workforce. The new facilities have significantly improved the educational experience for dental students, providing access to cutting edge technology and training.

In addition, the hospital provides specialist trauma and cancer services, performing almost 4,000 operations per year working closely with colleagues at the nearby The Royal London Hospital.   

Professor Mike Curtis, Dean for Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, added: “Today is an exciting day for our dental school. Our local communities face some of the most challenging health needs of anywhere in the UK and the new dental hospital and school has a key role to play in benefiting our local people. We take huge pride in providing first class education in dentistry and performing internationally recognised research and we are delighted to have welcomed Her Royal Highness here today to see our staff and students in action.”

Improving the dental health of the local community of Whitechapel, where the new building is located, and beyond is central to the aims of the new dental school and hospital.

In Tower Hamlets there are high rates of dental decay in children, affecting nearly half (46 per cent) of all 5-year-old children - the highest rate of all the London boroughs. There is low uptake of dental services in both children and adults. The area also sees high rates of gum disease and rates of mouth, head and neck cancer in adults are above the national average.

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