PORTLAND — The University of New England has opened its new dental school, the first in northern New England.

This week the school formally dedicated its Oral Health Center in Portland, which is the clinical home of UNE’s College of Dental Medicine teaching clinic and dental simulation facility. The school year began at the end of August, but the building wasn’t formally dedicated until Wednesday.

The inaugural class of 64 includes 22 students from Maine, five from New Hampshire and four from Vermont. The rest come from 16 other states and Canada.

The school was made possible through a $2.3 million gift from Northeast Delta Dental and $3.5 million through a bond referendum passed by voters in 2010.

The school expects to start seeing patients in early 2014. Between 12,000 and 15,000 patient visits are expected a year once the practice is fully up and running.

“We will implement one of the most robust community education programs available anywhere with a focus in the fourth year on extensive clinical experience in a distributed, community-based clinical learning environment across northern New England,” said UNE College of Dental Medicine Dean James Koelbl.

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