The protection of the health and safety of the public is a valid objective, but prescribing that all dentures be supplied only by Dentists, is a disproportionate way of achieving this objective. Denturists are trained to provide at least the same quality of care as Dentists, for a specific limited set of services.

Recognizing the profession of Denturists in South Africa would provide competition in the sale of dentures from other appropriately qualified professionals and give the circa 1,117,000 denture wearers >65 in South Africa more choice. It would also put downward pressure on the prices of dentures.

For a patient who is having dentures fitted for the first time, it may be appropriate for them to visit a Dentist for a preliminary examination to ensure that their gums and mouth are in healthy condition before dentures are fitted. However, denture wearers should not be obliged to visit a Dentist if they wish to order a replacement set of dentures as there is no evidence that they require a general dental check-up any more than other patients. In other countries where Denturists are legally recognized, they are obliged to refer patients to a Dentist if a condition is present that is beyond their scope of practice.

It should be mandatory for individuals who wish to be included on a Register of Denturists to be suitably trained. Dental Technicians are already expertly trained in manufacturing dentures. The qualifications necessary to become a Denturist are less extensive than those of becoming a Dentist, but more specialized in denture care. International experience has proven their ability to provide dentures to a standard at least equivalent to that of Dentists. As Denturists specialize in this area, undertake a higher number of training hours than do Dentists in fitting dentures, and are likely to fit a higher number of dentures per day than the average Dentist would do in a week, it is most probable for Denturists to provide a higher quality service than Dentists given their greater experience and specialization.

Globally Denturists subscribe to the universal protocol of infection control and consistently observe excellent hygiene standards. Denturists refer patients in need of any invasive oral procedures, maintenance to their natural teeth or the manifestation of any suspected pathology.

The SADA claims that the number of new people in need of dentures is decreasing. While overall dental health in South Africa might be improving, it is evident that:

  • The circa 1.12 million full denture wearer population will continue to need complete denture services, to a large extent accounting for 65+ year olds, as demand for dentures is strongly correlated with age, without taking into account the number of denture wearers with other types and forms of dentures.
  • People are now living longer than previous generations; and due to an extended life cycle pattern amongst the elderly, the claimed projected decline in Edentulism will be more than offset by the increase in replacement dentures of the adult population. The United Nations population predictions indicate that by 2040 21% of the world population will be older than 60.
  • A substantial segment of the population will continue to become partially and fully edentulous due to neglect and a lack of financial resources to access basic dental services to have their natural teeth attended to. Tooth decay and oral disease is a universal ongoing battle, resulting in erosion to individual teeth and eventual tooth loss.
  • Even if the demand for full dentures drops as people retain more of their natural teeth for longer, there will continue to be a demand for partial dentures, some of which comes from cases of tooth loss arising from trauma, sports injuries and accidents. The black population in particular previously had excellent teeth, but this tendency is deteriorating rapidly with diet changes.