Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says greater focus needs to be placed on the prevention of tooth decay, and dental professionals are well qualified to spread the message.
Delivering the main address at the University of Technology (UTech) 7th Annual White Coat Ceremony at the institution in St. Andrew on November 6, the Minister pointed out that the cost of treatment is a challenge for the majority of the population, and the National Dental Sealant Programme is to ensure that the culture of prevention starts at an early age, and also to give care to the most vulnerable in the society.
Dr. Tufton said the Government will be expanding the sealant programme, and is depending on the professionals to assist in encouraging more persons to practise proper oral hygiene.
The Minister noted that last year, the programme catered to approximately 20,000 children from six to 12 years of age.
He explained that as part of a 10-year strategic plan that the Ministry is undertaking, as well as the restructuring of the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), changes will be made to include how oral health is enhanced.
Dr. Tufton told the new dental professionals that over time, he is hoping that they will be engaged in the public health system, even if they are in private practice, “because of the new approaches that we will develop to mainstream and integrate oral health in the public sector”.
The Minister urged the new entrants to the dental profession to be high on customer service. “Care with compassion is absolutely critical; if you do that, you are going to see that the reception that you get from patients will be significantly enhanced,” he told the gathering.
The White Coat Ceremony is used to celebrate the transition of dental students from preclinical to clinical year. Students who have displayed mastery of the required techniques and knowledge are qualified to be awarded and donned with white coats.
The College of Oral Health Sciences at UTech offers the Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD), Master of Science in Dental Therapy, the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene, the Bachelor of Science in Dental Laboratory Technology and the Diploma in Dental Assisting.