Dr Noel Elmowy BDS from Bondi, Australia - Interview article published in the SADTJ September 2012
Central to the issue of the Cape Flats Smile is unethical exploitation by some professional health practitioners for selfish financial gain. This abuse is an embarrassment for all of us involved in the Oral Health Professions. The authorities urgently need to take a fresh look at the monopoly of clinical denture treatment in favour of Dentists, currently abused by some. Dentists would be more committed to conserve natural dentition, if another category were providing the dentures and if there were no personal financial gain to be made from dentures as an incentive to extract healthy teeth. For that reason, and my own experience of the category in Australia, I would not hesitate to strongly recommend the introduction of Denturism in your country.
There was a time when Dentists regarded Denturism as professional encroachment. It was a territory-issue. Some Dentists with insecurity-issues made it their business in the old days to try and entrap and prosecute them for illegal practice. There was so much work and not enough trained hands to deal with basic dental needs, prosthetic needs aside. Dental Prosthetist practice was legalised because it was popular custom; they are experts in their field – the public knew that from direct experience. Dentists’ training in Prosthetics is superficial and very limited, even more so today than back then.
Nowadays, Australian Dentists generally regard denture-work as the domain of Dental Prosthetists, who are perceived as efficient service providers and appreciated associates in group practice. Having a Dental Prosthetist present at the practice released me from that task (burden). We recognise them as vital caretakers of oral health, who promptly refer pathology for diagnosis and treatment. Since Dentists and Dental Prosthetists started working as a team and refer patients to each other, Dentists’ practices have grown and resulted in a much greater sense of teamwork in serving the consumer. It is a win-win situation! Perhaps a delegation from SA should make a study tour to Australia to come and observe the professional interaction between Dentist and Dental Prosthetist. We are both an integral part of the Dental Team. There is no conflict between the two.