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A history of thinking forward in paediatric dentistry

1 August 2019
Applying the medical model of registrar-based training to dentistry
As the first Australasian university to offer specialty training in paediatric dentistry, Sydney Dental School's unique registrar-based program has been firmly embedded in the Western Sydney Local Health District since 1987.

The University of Sydney, in collaboration with the Western Sydney Local Health District and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, is the first Australasian university to offer a 3-year full-time coordinated academic and clinical specialist training program in paediatric dentistry.

The program's success comes down to its unique curriculum, which is structured to allow registrars to spend the majority of their clinical training at Westmead Centre for Oral Health and The Children's Hospital at Westmead with rotations to rural and remote clinics in NSW.

During their final year, registrars are rostered to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead for up to 3 months. They also work in the after-hours emergency service from their first year.

"We believe that this program is unique in Australasia and it offers the best in quality of clinical experience, didactic and research training", said Dr Neeta Prabhu, Head of Subject Area and Conjoint Senior Lecturer.

Westmead Children's Hospital

Dr Neeta Prabhu, with program graduate Dr Ven Bhardwaj and current student Dr Lucy Yu.

History of the speciality in Australasia

The Sydney Dental School program was developed following the establishment of the Paediatric Dentistry Unit within the Department of Preventive Dentistry at Westmead Hospital in 1981.

At the time, Dr Richard Widmer was the head of the department and became the first paediatric specialist to be registered in NSW in this field.

The master's course commenced in 1987 as the first registrar-based specialty programme in paediatric dentistry in Australasia. Since then, over 25 candidates have completed the program and have gained specialist registration.  

Some graduates have gone on to head the discipline in universities across Australia and overseas and some even hold key positions in government agencies, lobbying for improved dental health for the paediatric population.

Westmead Centre for Oral Health

Staff and students are actively collaborating in several research projects with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) and the Institute of Dental Research.

3 reasons to specialise in paediatric dentistry at Sydney 

1. Opportunities to develop specialised expertise

Paediatric dentistry is an age-related specialty, however, the discipline as a whole is very broad. While students are required to develop an understanding of all aspects of paediatric dentistry, there is a scope to develop expertise in a particular area within the discipline.

2. Extensive clinical experience opportunities

The program has been developed from the medical model of registrar-based training, where students benefit from the availability of extensive clinical experience. Few institutions in the world have access to the range of anomalies, diseases and pathological manifestations as Westmead Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

3. The course is globally recognised

The curriculum has been developed based on the recommendations made by the Australasian Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry. The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons has also recognised this training as appropriate for Advanced Trainees progressing towards Special Field Examination in Paediatric Dentistry.


For more than 100 years, Sydney Dental School has been providing education and training in dentistry and oral health, offering a range of study options for dental practitioners looking to progress their careers and researchers.

Find out more about our a large range of specialty postgraduate courses and continuing professional development courses for qualified dentists.