The National University of Singapore (NUS) plans to expand its Faculty of Dentistry with a new state-of-the-art building, set to open in 2017.

In an effort to address a growing demand for dental services, the 26,000 sq m Centre for Oral Health - to be located at the National University Hospital (NUH) - will house research, education and clinical services.

Currently, these services are provided in three separate buildings. Undergraduate teaching and research are done in two different buildings at NUS, while clinical services are provided at NUH.

Details of the centre were revealed last night at the Singapore Dental Association's (SDA) 75th anniversary dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who was the guest of honour, took the opportunity to commend the SDA Ethics Committee and the many volunteer dentists who provide pro bono mediation services for the public.

The association said it hopes to encourage more voluntary work among dentists.

It is partnering a charitable organisation to set up a free dental clinic for the needy.

The game changer for the dental industry, however, will be the construction of the new centre.

It will allow the faculty to increase its intake of dental students and train more specialists.

The Ministry of Health has projected the need to increase the undergraduate intake from 48 students a year to 80 in 2020.

The new centre will also aim to provide the full range of oral health care, especially geriatric and preventive-care dentistry.

It will carry out research into areas such as regenerative biology and tissue engineering, focusing on new ways to enhance repair and regeneration of soft tissue and bone as the population ages.

In addition to government funding, the faculty intends to raise $50 million for the building.

Year Two dentistry student Lok Hui Yi said that the new centre will bring greater convenience to students.

"We need not go over to another building for attachments or research collaborations. There will be much more synergy," said the 21-year-old.