As proved in the main proceedings, when Philip Tucker, a Registered Dental Technician (RDT) and Clinical Dental Technician (CDT) who qualified from the Royal College of Surgeons in England in 2007, applied to the Council for the Professions Complementary to Medicine for registration as a Clinical Dental Technician in Malta, the Registrar of the Council answered as follows:
“You are to be informed that in accordance to the Health Care Professions Act (Cap. 464) the Council for the Professions Complementary to Medicine regulates 19 health care professions which do not include the clinical dental technician. However, the Council regulates the profession of dental technology.”
It has recently been reported that after a long difficult battle that has been going on for 41 years, the Belgian government has officially announced today that denturism is now to be recognized as a profession in the dental health field along with dentistry and dental hygiene!
A denturist is a qualified dental technologist with an extended clinical programme making him eligible to qualify as a denturist. A qualified denturist studies a programme with a curriculum which reflects dental competencies related to the direct provision of removable oral appliances, lost teeth and oral structures. Denturists provide a more feasible service, both with regard to efficiency and cost, for the provision of custom-made removable dental devices. Many patients turn to denturists after being let down by the service they experienced at the hands of an irresponsible or negligent dentist.
Denturism or Clinical Dental Technology should be perceived and understood as a specialised section of Dental Technology. The most valuable asset of a denturist remains the person to person contact between the denturist – as manufacturer and clinician – and the patient.
The Malta Dental Technologists Association is the only professional organisation in Malta representing the interests of Dental Technology as well as its specialisations (vide Legal Notice 20 0f 2017). The request had been made in 2009! The Association has submitted on more than one occasion representations to the Maltese health authorities, through the Council for the Professions Complementary to Medicine, so that the applicable subsidiary legislation is reviewed allowing the introduction of the profession of Denturists. However, the Council of Health (now the Medical Council of Malta) has adopted a negative attitude as a result of the Dentists’ lobby. First the Council of Health, then the Superintendent of Public Health overruled the Association’s recommendations. The reason is that they will only consider the case if and when “trends improve” (their own words), as if the admission of denturists as one of the oral allied health professions should be decided on the basis of “trends”! The restriction has been shown to be arbitrary.
After examining the written submissions made jointly by the Republic of Malta and the Superintendent of Public Health, the Malta Dental Technologists Association states that denturists are qualified to assess the oral cavity and to identify abnormalities and to detect pathological lesions. All these are included in the curriculum followed in their course of studies. The Republic of Malta and the Superintendent of Public Health are not even aware of the fact that denturists take a history of the patient, and therefore if the patient is taking biphosphonates (a medicine for the treatment of osteoporosis), the denturist would know about it. If denturists encounter osteonecrosis of the jaw or tempomandibular joint dysfunction, they would know what they are looking at because such conditions are included in their curriculum of studies. They are trained to refer cases of pathological abnormalities to dentists. Moreover, neither dentists nor denturists are competent to diagnose and treat cancers; both are expected to refer them to pathologists.
The International Federation of Denturists lays down standards of good practice such as: “Students will learn to recognise those pathological conditions which necessitate referral to other professionals for further treatment.”
Futhermore, the Rules of Professional Conduct and Code of Ethics issued by the IFD provide that denturists are under a professional obligation to refer patients to a dentist when they detect a condition which they are not qualified to treat.