The Society for Clinical Dental Technology is a voluntary Association representing the ambitions of those South African Dental Technicians aspiring to get additional clinical training to become direct denture providers, globally generally called Denturists, also Clinical Dental Technicians (CDTs) or Dental Prosthetists in other English speaking jurisdictions and the appropriate translations into Danish, Dutch, French, Finn, German and Slovak languages. See also What is Denturism?  As a result of two motivational reports (1992 and 1998) tabled by The Society to the South African Dental Technicians Council (SADTC), National Department of Health and the Minister of Health, various workshops were conducted by the SADTC, to investigate the desirability of such a category in South Africa, involving all the relevant stakeholders. This process went through various progressions.

During the political transition of the 1990’s the Portfolio Committee of Health formulated a crude definition of the category, which culminated into the lawmaker creating enabling legislation, to recognize CDTs. The Dental Technicians Amendment Act (Act 43 of 1997), statutory imposed by the South African Dental Technicians Council (SADTC), defines an oral health category of CDT as:

“Clinical Dental Technologist means a person who has undergone training in treating patients requiring complete artificial dentures and who is registered as such under the Medical, Dental and supplementary Health Professions Act, 1974 (Act 56 of 1974)”

This outdated and limited Scope of Practice needs to be redefined in terms of modern trends, global benchmark practices and accredited training programs, so that local Dental Technicians with Denturism-aspirations, may be trained and regulated to serve the removable prosthetic needs of our people. An open, transparent debate must be engaged in where all stakeholders, including the consumer, are allowed to participate. International baseline norms and standards should be considered and factored in.

02Dental Technicians are not regulated by the HPCSA and due to the absence of bridging structures between the SADTC and the HPCSA; no progress has been made towards fulfilling this mandate by Parliament. Despite this enabling legislation and various appeals to the SADTC to take the matter forward, no Regulations have to date been formulated by the HPCSA for the category. A Register for CDTs needs to be created, for qualified Denturists to consider returning from overseas, to practice their calling locally. In spite of tireless efforts over decades by The Society to get the subject of Denturism on the Agenda of Policymakers at the Department of Health and Oral Health Human Resources Forums, the provision of dentures in South Africa remains highly monopolized. For too long the debate has been exclusive and fixated on outdated propaganda. In terms of the principles contained in the National Health Act and the Health Charter, the time is long overdue, to replace Dentist-centred dentistry with Patient-centred dentistry.