Swedish Region Halland also supports a new dental education

The lack of dentists outside the metropolitan areas makes it difficult for residents to access dental care in Sweden. Therefore, Region Halland now also chooses to, just as more than half of Sweden’s regions have already done, sign a letter of intent to collaborate on a new dental education at Jönköping University.

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The support among Sweden's regions for starting a new dental training programme in collaboration between Jönköping University, Linköping University and Region Jönköping County is strong. Region Halland joins more than half of Sweden's regions that are already behind the initiative to create a dental school that, thanks to groundbreaking new technology, a unique clinical practice and research, will give students the knowledge and skills they need in their working lives.

“It is important that there are enough training places and opportunities so that in the future we will have enough dentists around Sweden,” says Jelena Sannabo, head of operations at Folktandvården in Region Halland. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and we have had large retirements. Through this initiative, we can help more people to train and thus enable more equal and accessible dental care throughout the country.”

Cutting-edge technology and hands-on training produce clinically ready dentists

The education is a strategic collaboration between Jönköping University, Linköping University and Region Jönköping County - with the Department of Public Health and the Department of Odontology - in close cooperation with the country's public health organisations. Dental students will receive approximately 150 days of clinical training at geographically dispersed dental clinics across the country.

"In-service training is rewarding in many ways," says Jelena Sannabo. “In addition to the importance of practical elements during the study period, it gives us an opportunity to gain insight into the innovative environment of the training. We also see that work-based training is developmental for employees through the role of supervisor. In addition, it gives us an opportunity to show who we are to the students.“

The new dental education programme takes its cue from rapid technological developments and uses cutting-edge technology from the outset. Before students see their first patients, they practice drills virtually in simulators developed to train manual skills for dental treatment.

“Mixing theory with practice is important in dental education,” says Jelena Sannabo. “Newly graduated dentists usually have very good theoretical knowledge, but they’ve had limited opportunities for practical training. That's why the structure of clinical quantity training in a real treatment environment is so important. “

Dental expertise is currently concentrated in metropolitan areas, and large-scale retirements are creating skills gaps that - according to the University Chancellor's Office forecast for 2021 - are expected to persist until at least 2035, if nothing is done about it.

“Dentists are currently in short supply in Sweden, and many citizens are not receiving the help they need. In other words, dental health is not equal today. With the new technology, the close cooperation with Region Jönköping County and the education provided in dental clinics around the country, our education helps to secure dental competence for the future,” says Agneta Marell, President at Jönköping University.

The new programme will increase the number of existing study places for dentists and complement the current dental programme locations, all of which have a long history: Stockholm (started in 1898), Malmö (started in 1949), Umeå (started in 1956) and Gothenburg (started in 1967). Collaboration around the new dental centre will create the conditions for innovation and research collaboration, as well as co-teaching with students in the medical school at Linköping University.

“This will be the first new dental education in over 50 years and will create the conditions for more dentists throughout Sweden and thus a more equal dental care and better dental health,” says Agneta Marell.

The work on a new dental education is led in close collaboration with Linköping University, Region Jönköping County and Jönköping University.

Read more about the new dental education here (in Swedish)

The 12 regions that have signed the letter of intent are:

Region Blekinge, Region Dalarna, Region Gävleborg, Region Halland, Region Jönköping County, Region Kalmar County, Region Kronoberg, Region Norrbotten, Region Värmland, Region Västernorrland, Region Örebro County and Region Östergötland.