The Dental Team - Namibian Dental Association

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The Dental Team

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Members of 'The Dental team' that takes care of your Oral and Dental Health needs includes Dentists, Dental Specialists, Oral Hygienists, Dental Receptionists, Dental Therapists, Dental Assistants and Dental Technicians. Below are short discriptions of each of these team member's roles and responsibilities.

By taking the resposibility for home care and maintaining good oral and dental health, the most important member of the Dental Team is Yourself!


Dentist
Also called General Practitioner Dentists. This is your first port of call. The Dentist is responsible for the initial diagnosis and the restoration and maintenance of your dental health. The Dentist has specialised knowledge of all restorative and preventative procedures and a good knowledge of most surgical procedures.

The General Dentist will often perform some of the specialised procedures done by the Dental Specialists listed below, but will arrange for you to be referred to a Specialist in particularly difficult cases or for really advanced procedures to be performed. Once the Dental Specialist has carried out and followed up these advanced procedures, patients are regularly referred back to their General Dentists for maintenance and further conservative treatment.

Dentists working in Namibia have at least 5 to 6 years of formal training at a recognized Dental School at a University. By law a person must be registered as a Dentist with the Medical and Dental Council of Namibia before the person is allowed to work as Dentist in Namibia.

The majority of Dentists in Namibia are self-employed and work in their own practices. Dentists are also employed by Government to work in the Ministry of Health and big employers such as mining companies.

Dental Specialist
A Dental Specialist is a Dentist with special interest and training in a specific field of dentistry. Although there are many fields in which a Dentist can specialise, the Dental Specialists most commonly encountered in Namibia include:

  • Orthodontists: Treat malocclusions* and straighten teeth with braces and orthodontic appliances.

  • Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgeons: Treat oral and facial trauma and fractures. Perform oral surgery such as removal of impacted teeth, apicoectomies*, placement of dental implants and orthognathic* surgery. Treat oral and facial growths and tumors.

  • Periodontists: Specialise in the treatment of gum disease and diseases of the mouth and oral cavity. Periodontists are also experts in dental implantology*.

  • Prostodontists: Dentists that specialise in the construction and fitment of fixed and removable dentures, crowns and bridges and other advanced dental prosthesis*.


Dental Specialists are first trained and registered as General Dentists and then go back to a recognized Dental School at a University to gain further experience and formal training in their chosen fields. This normally requires a further 3 to 5 years of study. As in the case of Dentists, the law rules that a person must be registered as a Dental Specialist in his/her particular field with the Medical and Dental Council of Namibia before the person is allowed to work as Dental Specialist in Namibia.

Although Dental Specialists are mostly self-employed and work in their own practices, they can also be employed by Government to work in the Ministry of Health. Some Dental Specialists work in Namibia permanently while some only visit Namibia for short periods at regular intervals to render specialised dental care to patients when needed.

* See Dental Dictionary

Oral Hygienist
Most often a lady that works in a Dentist’s office and specialises in dental prophylaxis, cleaning, scaling and polishing of teeth. Sometimes applies pit and fissure sealants and gives fluoride treatments. Assists the Dentist with dental examinations and taking of dental x-rays and is very much involved in giving advice about the proper care for your teeth. In the surgeries of Orthodontists they are often involved in the adjustment of orthodontic braces and appliances.

Oral Hygienists are trained as such at a recognized Dental School at a University. To qualify and work as an Oral Hygienist takes at least 2 years of training, followed by registration as an Oral Hygienist with the Medical and Dental Council of Namibia.

Oral Hygienists are either employed by Dentists and Dental Specialists to work in their practices or employed by Government to work in the Ministry of Health. Big employers with their own Dental Services also sometimes employ Oral Hygienists.

Dental Receptionist
The person that makes your dental appointments, receives you when you come to the dental surgery and sorts out your dental administration, accounts, payments and such. Most Dental Receptionists also take care of general office administration in the Dental Surgery and act as Secretary to the Dentist who employs them.

There is no formal training needed to become a Dental Receptionist. Most Receptionists receive in-service training from their employers, although qualifications and experience in fields such as computer-use and bookkeeping will be invaluable for a Receptionist.

Dental Therapist
A person that renders basic uncomplicated dental services. Dental Therapists can examine and clean your teeth, do basic fillings on teeth, remove (extract) teeth that are beyond repair and do not require surgery, like cutting or drilling into gums and bone around the teeth, to get them out. Dental Therapists are also very much involved in dental prophylaxis and giving advice about home care.

Dental Therapists working in Namibia need as much as 3 years of formal training at a recognized training facility and by law must be registered as Dental Therapist with the Allied Health Professions Board of Namibia.

Dental Therapists are mostly employed by Government to work in Dental Clinics of the Ministry of Health. Some Dental Therapists are self-employed and work in their own practices.

Dental Assistant
Sometimes also called a Chair-side Assistant or Dental Nurse. This is the person, mostly a lady, who helps the Dentist in the surgery to deliver dental services. She helps with mixing of dental materials, assists the Dentist with dental procedures, takes care of the dental instruments and most importantly helps to keep the patient comfortable. She is in reality the Dentist’s third and fourth hands!

In Namibia no formal training or qualification is needed to work as a Dental Assistant. Although some Dental Schools and Technical Training Colleges offer such training, most Dental Assistants receive in-service training from their employers. Dental Assistants sometimes also attend dental conferences or other training sessions to gain more knowledge and experience of dentistry.

Dental Technician
The person taking care of the technical aspects of manufacturing dental prosthesis* such as dentures, crowns, bridges, etc. Dental Technicians also manufacture dental appliances like bleaching trays, orthodontic plates and retainers, nightguards etc.

Dental Technicians are trained at recognized Technical Training Colleges or Technicons. Training usually involves 3 years of formal training followed by 1 year of practical in-service instruction under supervision of a registered Dental Technician. Once this is completed registration with the Allied Health Professions Board of Namibia is needed before a Dental Technician is allowed to work as such.

Dental Technicians have different employment options in Namibia. Most are self-employed and own and operate their own Dental Laboratories. These Technicians receive and do technical work on instruction from Dentists and Dental Specialists. Technicians can also be employed by Dentists, by Government to work in the Ministry of Health’ s Dental Clinics or by big employers with their own Dental Facilities.

* See Dental Dictionary

Yourself
The most important member of the Dental Team of course is you!

  • The rest of the Dental Team can treat you, but you can prevent the need for treatment!

  • The rest of the Dental Team will clean and polish for you, but you have to maintain!

  • The rest of the Dental Team can advise, teach and show you how, but you have to act and do!

  • The rest of The Dental Team will restore your smile, but you have to smile!


Remember the most important player in this team: yourself!

 
 
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