Marking 10 years of community engagement at Peninsula Dental School

In 2006, Professor Liz Kay came to the University of Plymouth as the inaugural Dean of the Peninsula Dental School - the first dental school to be established in the UK for 40 years. 

Building on her research, she introduced a new model of dental education, focused on primary care, clinician-led teaching, and a desire to benefit the local community. 

She wanted to give students hands-on experience helping the people overcome oral health inequality, so in 2008 she set up a community engagement team - which has grown from two staff to a team helping dozens of local organisations. 

Read more about Professor Liz Kay's academic journey in University magazine Inveniteand see some of the projects and achievements from the last 10 years below.

Professor Christopher Tredwin, Head of Peninsula Dental School, said: 

"Community engagement is really the jewel in the crown of Peninsula Dental School. Not only have we produced superb dentists who are empathetic to their patients, and while doing that addressed oral health inequalities, but our methods have also been adopted by other dental schools in the UK and further afield.

"My thanks go to our students, my colleagues and our partners in the profession and the community for making these 10 years of community engagement so spectacularly successful.”

Wendy Smith and Nicola Brown (pictured here with Director of Social Engagement and Community Based Dentistry, Rob Witton) were the first two people in the Community Engagement team at Peninsula Dental School. 

Having grown from a team of two to a team of eight, and transitioned into new charity Well Connected to help advance community relations, both have worked on a huge range of projects - and Wendy's work led to her being awarded an MBE in 2018 New Year's Honours. Wendy said:

"Our first role was to recruit patients for the Devonport Dental Education Facility, where University students would treat real-life patients under the supervision of clinicians. We have since gone on to create new and exciting community based projects which raise the profile of oral health, as well as giving students the chance to go into the community and help people overcome oral health inequality."

Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE)

PDSE is a Community Interest Company (CIC) committed to improving oral health across the South West. They: run Dental Education Facilities in Plymouth, Truro and Exeter, where students from the University treat NHS patients; improve awareness of oral health in the wider community, focusing on groups such as schoolchildren, the elderly, parents, those with specific conditions, people with special needs substance abusers, the homeless, prisoners and; ensure access to dental care for all, but especially to those groups who may feel excluded from mainstream dentistry.


Well Connected works with Peninsula Dental School and Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise to deliver community engagement projects:

It's the community engagement partner of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, and helps disadvantaged groups to access services and adopt positive lifestyles.

Visit the Well Connected website


Dental Therapy and Hygiene student Georgia Snape and her peers worked with Nomony Children's Centre as part of their year 2 Inter Professional Engagement module. 

Encouraging children to brush for two minutes, Georgia wrote up a dental version of 'The Wheels on the Bus', which has been published as part of an article for the British Dental Journal. 

Read Georgia's article in the BDJ

Dental teaching gets 100 per cent approval from students

100 per cent of dental students were satisfied overall with the quality of their course at the University of Plymouth, according to the 2018 National Student Survey.

Find out more about studying at Peninsula Dental School