PORTLAND — The first college of dental medicine in northern New England opened Wednesday at the University of New England’s Portland campus with an inaugural class of 64 students.

The class includes 24 students from Maine, five from New Hampshire and four from Vermont. The other students are from 16 other states and Canada.

The program is housed in the $14 million Oral Health Center, off Stevens Avenue.

Startup funds for the program included $3.5 million from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approved by voters as part of a $5 million bond to increase access to dental care in Maine, and $2.3 million from Northeast Delta Dental.

James Koelbl, dean of the UNE College of Dental Medicine, said fourth-year students will provide “extensive clinical experience” in community-based clinics across northern New England.

He said faculty members and students will treat as many as 15,000 patients a year at the Portland campus clinic, and as many as 25,000 patients in the community-based network.

“UNE is uniquely qualified to open the first college of dental medicine in the region,” UNE President Danielle Ripich said in a prepared statement. “This graduate program in oral health joins medical, pharmacy, public health, dental hygiene and allied health programs.”

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]