Den­tal health is not a lux­ury

CHECK-UP: PUB­LIC CLIN­ICS, HOS­PI­TALS HAVE DEN­TISTS

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Chi­som Jen­nif­fer Okoye jen­nif­[email protected]­i­zen.co.za

Fees can be high be­cause it costs up to R1 mil­lion to set up a prac­tice.

The SA Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion (Sada) is en­cour­ag­ing South Africans to not only make emer­gency stops when is­sues arise, but to have reg­u­lar den­tal check-ups to de­tect ir­re­versible con­di­tions.

Sada’s pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment head Dr Nthabiseng Mets­ing said den­tists did not only treat teeth but were trained to di­ag­nose, treat and man­age con­di­tions af­fect­ing the max­illo­fa­cial area (face, mouth and jaws).

Ac­cord­ing to Mets­ing, den­tal is­sues “are not only lim­ited to the teeth, they in­clude the hard and soft tis­sue in max­illo­fa­cial area.

“There are ag­gres­sive be­nign tu­mours which present very late [for which] the treat­ment may be de­struc­tive and de­bil­i­tat­ing.”

She said the only way of detecting is­sues was through reg­u­lar vis­its to the den­tist. The fre­quency would de­pend on the pa­tient’s first visit.

At the ini­tial visit, the den­tist would do a thor­ough ex­am­i­na­tion of all the hard and soft tis­sues in the oral cav­ity and sur­round­ing struc­tures. The den­tist would dis­cuss re­quired treat­ments with the pa­tient.

“Once the ini­tial treat­ment plan has been com­pleted, the pa­tient will come for reg­u­lar vis­its to en­sure there is no fur­ther pro­gres­sion of dis­ease or the de­vel­op­ment of new dis­ease con­di­tions or even tooth loss.”

Some South Africans avoid vis­it­ing the den­tist due to cost. Mets­ing said fees charged were be­cause of “the num­ber of years a den­tist spends train­ing [min­i­mum five years] and the start-up cost of a mod­ern den­tal prac­tice [be­ing] any­thing be­tween R500 000 and R1 mil­lion, ex­clud­ing other over­heads”.

De­spite the harsh eco­nomic cli­mate mak­ing med­i­cal ser­vices like den­tal health seem lux­u­ri­ous for the av­er­age South African, Mets­ing said any­one could get ac­cess to den­tal care.

“Pa­tients who can­not af­ford to see a pri­vate den­tist may ac­cess any of the pub­lic clin­ics and hos­pi­tals which of­fer den­tal ser­vices and they are, in most cases, able to pro­vide most of the treat­ments that a pri­vate prac­ti­tioner may pro­vide, with­out pay­ing for it.”

She said main­tain­ing good den­tal health was im­por­tant.

This in­cluded get­ting into the habit of brush­ing teeth twice a day and floss­ing at least once a day.

Pic­ture: AFP

The les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity marches in sup­port of Kash­mir, which has been on lock­down for 112 days since au­thor­i­ties im­posed a se­cu­rity clam­p­down on Au­gust 5.

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