Dentists want more teeth in Dental Act

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Dentists want more teeth in Dental Act

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 14, 2020

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BRACO, Trelawny — President of Jamaica Dental Association (JDA), Dr Oswald Dunn, is calling for a review of the antiquated Dental Act to address the lack of teeth in the current law, among other concerns.

He noted that the Act was last reviewed in 1972.

“There is the issue of regulating who can and should perform dentistry; the fines are much too low in the case of unregistered dentists, so it's not worth the while prosecuting because the fines reflect the era in which the Act was made up — these are just a few of the issues that need to be addressed urgently,” Dr Dunn told the Jamaica Observer during the 56th National Convention of the JDA at Melia Braco Village in Trelawny yesterday.

He argued that, in its current form, the Act does not take two new dental schools into account.

“It is old; it does not reflect the fact that we now have two new dental schools. It just needs to be modernised to reflect where we are at in dentistry, at the moment,” he explained.

In fact, the JDA president noted that there is a third school that produces dental hygienists that “is not contemplated in the Act” either.

Dental hygienists are professionals who clean teeth as well as take care of the gum.

He argued that there is currently a White Paper that has been reviewed by the association, but said it now needs to be “an Act of Parliament to get this into law, which will reflect the changes that have occurred in dentistry over the years”.

From as far back as 2013, then Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson assured the island's dentists that Government was moving to amend the Dental Act, which would set new standards for the profession.

“We feel that this is going to be important going forward [in] putting the necessary regulatory framework that will allow for the profession to maintain the standards that we believe are necessary,” Dr Ferguson, who is also a dentist, told reporters covering the Jamaica Dental Association's 49th Annual Convention, which was held at Ritz Carlton Golf and Spa Rose Hall in St James.

Dr Dunn also called for more investments in the sector yesterday, to guarantee employment for students leaving dental schools.

“We do have two new dental schools producing approximately 40 dentists per year. Employment in the public sector is becoming limited and, in the private sector, positions are still available but as we produce more [students], these positions could become scarce within the private sector. As more dentists are being produced, we have to grow the industry by opening new offices to facilitate the new dentists who are coming on stream,” he said.

He added that among the other concerns dogging the profession, are: “The cost of equipment, cost of medicine — which is closely linked to the rising dollar — dental education, and the whole business of fear of the dentist...”

The JDA, which was formed in 1928, has more than 300 members, of which about 200 are considered very active.

The conference, which is being held under the theme: “Unlock your inner greatness”, started on Wednesday and will run until tomorrow.


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