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South African Dental Journal

On-line version ISSN 0375-1562
Print version ISSN 0011-8516


RAMPHOMA, KJ. Oral Health in South Africa: Exploring the role of dental public health specialists. S. Afr. dent. j. [online]. 2016, vol.71, n.9, pp.402-403. ISSN 0375-1562.

This report explores the role of dental public health specialists in the South African health system in curbing the increasing burden of oral diseases, most of which are preventable. Globally, these specialists play vital roles in addressing the oral health needs and wellbeing of the whole population through influencing policies and informing decisions. The general neglect of oral health in South Africa coupled with the individually-focused management of oral diseases has led to an exorbitant expenditure of public health funds in the attempt to provide care. Their expertise equips these specialists competent to design, supervise and evaluate appropriate oral health interventions and preventive programmes to benefit the population as a whole. While there are 33 of these professionals registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, their skills seem to be largely under-utilised in the public health system arena with only one being so employed. The increasing prevalence of oral diseases and the lack of success in management of the problem thus far necessitates a critical review of alternative strategies of addressing oral health matters. This paper explores the role of these specialists in addressing the oral health of the South African public at large.

Keywords : oral health; South Africa; dental public health specialists.

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