Centre for Health and Bioinformatics


Rebecca Wassall

Clinical Lecturer in Special Care Dentistry


I am a practising community-based NHS dentist. Qualified in 2000, I have worked in NHS hospital, GP and community dentistry and in 2011, I completed a PhD.

Currently, as Clinical Lecturer in Special Care Dentistry, I provide clinical dentistry for adults with complex needs and undertake research into the organisation and delivery of dental services for older dependent people. My work seeks to celebrate and promote the humanistic aspects of dental care while also embracing the opportunities of technology to improve oral health and wellbeing.

My frustrations with proprietary software available for NHS dentistry, led me to pitch at a NHS Hack Day in 2014. Subsequently, driven by a collaborative and public service ethos, I founded OpenOdonto CIC, a not for profit community interest company which aims to create openness in NHS dental IT.

For ‘geeks who love the NHS’ I organised NHS Hack Day Newcastle in 2016. NHS Hack Days are free events to attend and welcome people who are from backgrounds that are not well-represented in most geeky meetups.

I can also be found on Twitter.


  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery (Newcastle, 2000)
  • Member of Faculty of Dental Surgery (Edinburgh, 2004)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Conscious Sedation (Newcastle, 2004)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (Newcastle, 2008)
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy (2008)
  • PhD (Newcastle, 2011)


  • Founder/director - OpenOdonto CIC
  • Committee member - British Society of British Society of Gerodontology           
  • British Society of Disability and Oral Health
  • Faculty of Dental Surgery, Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh)
  • Higher Education Academy
  • International Association of Dental Research


My doctoral research played a pivotal role in a large interdisciplinary project working with local & regional collaborators in which I led a trial to investigate the clinical and cytokine response following periodontal intervention in patients with diabetes.

More recently, driven by my clinical work within community-based NHS dentistry the focus of my research has changed. I am now particularly concerned with addressing the challenges of improving the oral health of specific high risk groups of patients and delivering appropriate primary care services to these groups.

In 2014 NIHR awarded me a Transitional Research Fellowship. I have established and developed research collaboration within the Institute for health and Society and the Institute for Ageing.

 I am an active member of the Oral Healthcare and Epidemiology theme within the Centre for Oral Health Research

Current research projects include

  • CARING: Person-centred co-ordinated CARe for older people livING in care homes. How should the dentist be involved? This involves a two year NIHR transitional research fellowship.
  • OpenOdonto: Studies of co-creating digital tools in community-based NHS dentistry. This involves support from the Code4Health initiative and funding from the Apperta Foundation.

Research Supervision

Previous supervisor of three successful MSc theses

I am currently supervising one PhD student

I am currently academic supervisor for two clinical fellows within the Dental School

I am keen to hear from prospective doctoral students in my areas of interest.



I have built up a strong teaching background within the School of Dental Sciences where I have been involved both in the clinical and administrative side of teaching. Within the school I am involved in teaching and learning activities for both the Dental Surgery BDS Honours programme and the Oral and Dental Health Sciences BSc Honours programme. I am also the senior tutor for postgraduate courses within the school.

More broadly I am involved in dental core training and I also deliver postgraduate courses to dentists and other dental care professionals through the Health Education North East Continued Professional development programme for dentistry. 

I believe that excellent clinical teaching skills should be underpinned by sound theoretical knowledge and I have undertaken the Newcastle Certificate in Academic Practice and gained accreditation as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.