Kevin Lewis column
 

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Kevin Lewis column

 

Kevin Lewis column

Kevin Lewis points out that allowing technicians to join the GDC register isn’t as clear-cut a process as some may have assumed.

Extending GDC registration to Clinical Dental Technicians (CDTs) could never be quite as straightforward as for some of the other DCP groups. For hygienists and therapists it was simplicity itself, because in both cases a ‘Roll’ already existed.

In the case of dental nurses, some sensible and pragmatic ‘grandparenting’ provisions had been made, but the sheer scale of the numbers potentially involved here was always a different proposition. And so it has proved, with a nurse’s first registration currently taking many weeks longer to process than first registration for a dentist. The take-up of dental nurse registration was at first embarrassingly slow, but in recent months it has been gathering pace – which is just as well, with only 17 months left before the doors slam shut on the ‘grandparenting’ arrangements that are currently available.

The difficulty of applying the ‘grandparenting’ principle to the CDTs was that the GDC would need to be asking them for evidence that they had been practising illegally for long enough to justify admission to the register. ‘Ye...ee...ee...es’, as Jeremy Paxman might say. The very concept of CDTs (or dental prosthetists, as they are known in many of the countries where they have been recognised for several years) has always raised the temperature amongst at least some dentists. The prospect of making full dentures at all has been sufficient to raise my own temperature for as long as I can remember.

I even considered going into partnership with a ‘denturist’ many years back; I would make the upper dentures, and he would make the lower. Rather like bleaching, it would have been technically illegal, and the denturist and I would both have been liable to prosecution, but it would certainly have been in the patient’s best interests. No patient deserves any denture that I could create.

But therein lies yet another hurdle, which is the distinction between fully and partially edentulous patients. In those countries where CDTs or prosthetists are well established, the dental profession has been resistant to their involvement in making partial dentures, and more accommodating where full dentures were concerned. In Australia recently, dental acts have been changing in one state after another and this full/partial distinction was a red-hot issue in many of them. In the old days, you either had teeth or you didn’t. Now you might have no teeth at all, but a mouthful of implants instead.

Apparently, the problem for most of the UK ‘denturists’ who might become registered as CDTs is, that up to 50% of their work and income is historically related to partial dentures. I had never realised this, and was quite surprised to make the discovery. Many of these CDTs were trained – mostly in Canada, Australia and some parts of Europe – to construct and fit partial dentures as well as full dentures, but the decision was taken by the GDC not to recognise these qualifications which had been achieved in other countries.

Had the GDC done so, it would have been wholly inconsistent with its position regarding the recognition of dental degrees from overseas universities that the Council had not been visiting and inspecting.

All a bit of the dog’s breakfast then, but brace yourselves because during February the first 60 or so CDTs passed the threshold examination for admission to the UK register, and they are now on their way. Thinking about all those dentures that they will be making moves me to tears. But then again, the thought of making dentures always has done.

 Posted on : Thu 8th - Mar - 2007

 

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