It is proposed that the way that denture services are provided be liberated, subject of course to the maintenance of proper safeguards on service quality. Lifting regulatory restrictions on some of the professions that may practice the business of Dentistry would allow the public to be served in new and more innovative ways. The Society is therefore recommending some measures of deregulation to the Government. The result should be a market that serves consumers better.

With regard to the direct supply of dentures by Dental Technicians to the public, there is understood to be some illegal provision of such services in South Africa by individual Dental Technicians. These individuals at some time, and probably regularly, undertake unauthorized or “unethically” requested, work directly with denture patients and some is thought to have achieved a level of clinical competence to match or exceed many Dentists. It is claimed that no additional fee is generally charged for the clinical procedures by these unauthorised clinicians. It is unfair to these providers to continue providing free services. Furthermore, a strong case could be argued to decriminalize the illegal services of such competent clinicians in the public interest and allow them access to specialized training. Access should be provided for Clinical Dental Technologists (Denturists) to be eligible for reimbursement under the State Medical Schemes and private health Insurance and a recommended schedule of fees negotiated for the services of Denturists.

In view of the limited superficial training dental students currently receive in South Africa in this field, such Dental Technicians are likely to fit a higher number of dentures than the average Dentist would on a day-to-day basis, it is possible they provide a higher quality service than some Dentists, given their greater experience and specialization. Against that background it would be a loss to the denture wearing public to remove such competent clinicians from the market, and it would be to everyone’s advantage to declare a temporary Moratorium on the prosecution of such perpetrators and finding ways to accommodate such clinical operators by registering them after some form of assessment to determine their knowledge, skill and competence. Our education system already provides a mechanism for upgrading of qualifications which contains a component where “prior learning” is recognised.

  • The category of Denturist or Clinical Dental Technologist should be legally recognized in South Africa as a matter of urgency.
  • The qualifications required for entry onto the Register of Denturists should be: 
    • those prescribed for Dental Technicians, as an entrance requirement, plus 
    • additional clinical training to become competent prosthetic clinicians.
    • In addition, the Regulator should include a route of entry for Dental Technicians who do not have formal qualifications in clinical dental technology but perform to a satisfactory standard in an examination set by the Regulator. This will enable those Dental Technicians who currently practice in South Africa to a high clinical standard to continue to do so, thus ensuring that patients are protected and do not have to switch from their preferred provider unnecessarily.
  • The Regulator should ensure that there are no unnecessary restrictions on Denturists who qualified overseas and wish to work in South Africa. This provision may kick-start access to this category of professionals until a new SA-based courses come on-stream.
  • Denturists should be eligible for reimbursement for services provided under the proposed State Medical Scheme and Private Health Insurance in an even-handed way to assure the freedom of choice of consumers.
  • The Regulator should engage in an open debate with all stakeholders in the Education of OHHR to participate in a transparent process to determine the educational outcomes and details of a Denturist training program that complies with IFD Baseline norms and prescriptions of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and those Educational Institutions interested in offering a course in Denturism in South Africa. Such a program must be tasked to equip Dental Technicians with the necessary clinical training to provide dentures directly to the public. Consideration should be given to partner with an established overseas Educational Institution to provide the clinical program through Distance Education and to engage the International Examination Panel of the IFD for initial accreditation.
  • The Society should draw up a Code of Professional conduct for CDTs and a Patient Charter to provide a complaints procedure for the public, to resolve conflict and identify any service flaws, if there were any dissatisfaction about the service provided by any individual practicing Denturist.