Dentists should consider alternatives to extractions

DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 6, 2018

Dentistry in Guyana has evolved and should be offering more holistic services rather than just extractions.

This is according to Principal Dental Surgeon, Dr. Kester Sullivan who was at the time urging Regional Health Officers to change their approach towards dental services and make more provisions for this service within the regions.

Principal Dental Surgeon, Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Kester Sullivan during his presentation on dental services to Regional Health Officers (RHOs).

It has been found that tooth extractions were sometimes the only service being offered at regional dental facilities when dental technicians and other dental staff have been trained to administer a wider range.

In a brief but detailed presentation, Dr. Sullivan pointed out that dentistry staff have been trained and equipped to offer various services including restorative services (fillings, cleaning and polishing etc), endodontics, prosthodontics (Dentures), maxillofacial surgeries (cleft lip and palate), diagnoses for adverse health deficiencies evident through mouth diseases and a host of other services.

The oral health of Guyanese needs to be given priority just as much is given to the establishment of other critical programmes, Dr Sullivan explained. Statistics indicated that dental units throughout the country have done 18,206 normal extractions from January to May 2018.

The dental surgeon clarified that these statistics did not cover what was done in Regions One and Nine and at the Mibicuri, Enmore and Enterprise Health Centres. Other services within the same period totalled just 0ver 5,000.

“Dentistry is not just about pulling out teeth, dentistry needs to be given priority you (RHOs) need to place more emphasis on dentistry in terms of preventative, curative and other forms of conservative methods of treatment.”

Dr. Sullivan considers dentists’ alternative of ‘extraction only’ as a misconception. Further, he noted that this attitude which dentists tend to resort to must be quickly changed since it devalues the public’s confidence of this aspect of the healthcare system.

“Many times, a patient comes to the dentist and say they have a pain or something quite often the doctor or the dental surgeon or the dentist is not considerate or maybe he sees the easy way out. Those dentists in your region who have the attitude of considering just an extraction as the easiest way out can’t be a part of the local dental team.”

He also urged the RHOs to cater for the dentistry programme in a more strategic manner. In the budgeting progress, RHOs should examine needs of dentistry within the region and plan accordingly.

RHOs must move away from the common trend of asking and budgeting for dental chairs. Dr. Sullivan said “when the Regional Health Officers speak to us they say they need to have a dental chair. Now dental chairs are only used when they are doing extractions only because that’s all you can do with a dental chair and nothing more. We are moving away from that.”

In this regard, Dr. Sullivan noted, RHOs should seek to acquire dentistry units. This is a mobile or fixed piece of equipment, usually complete with chair, light, engine, and other accessories or utilities necessary for dental examinations or operations.

A patient’s oral health can be linked to a series of chronic illnesses and/or communicable diseases. A dentist or other trained dental staff must now take up the mantle of treating and attending to patients, looking beyond possible extraction

The Ministry of Public Health’s Dental Programme serves to ensure that the population, in general, and the most vulnerable segments of the population enjoy a better oral health status through promotive, preventive and curative oral health interventions, which are relevant, suitable, accessible and cost-effective.

By: Delicia Haynes.

Images: Anil Seelall.