CDT plays its part
In theory there is no difference, but the specific one-on-one with the patient and the clinical dental technician’s knowledge of various different denture techniques and materials can make the denture patient more relaxed about getting new dentures.
After a four-year apprenticeship, often in a laboratory being taught all the technical aspects of dental prosthetics, a further clinical course has to be taken which enables the technician to qualify and register as a CDT. The clinical training includes all the main dental professional subject matters such as sociology, health and nutrition, pharmacology, histology and periodontics.
This training allows the CDT to give full extra and intra oral examinations, examine radiographs and, if necessary, to refer their patients to other health professionals for anything that may be out with their scope of practice.
One of this new breed of dental professionals is Roger Mclachlan from the Edinburgh Denture Clinic. He explained: “Basically we want to work with dentists and not against them. Ideally we would have a mutual referral system so if a dentist has patients they want to refer to us then great and we can then refer patients to them if someone comes to us and obviously needs mouth work done. I think it can be a mutually beneficial association with the dentists.
“I think a lot of them are still in the dark over what a CDT is and there is maybe a certain element of mistrust there. They might be still thinking of the guys who work illegally and they obviously can’t be seen to refer to these people. I think it is one of those things; a new profession takes time to get established and get recognition as part of the dental team.”
However, even if some GDPs have some misconceptions about CDTs, there are plenty that can see the benefits of working in conjunction with their newly qualified colleagues. John Leitch from Family Dental Care in Inverkeithing, said: “I know a lot of dentists hate doing dentures because of the problems it can give. I think the beauty of a CDT is that he will do the whole thing. He is working in the mouth and he can see what the problems are. He doesn’t have to confer information to the technician because he is the technician.
He is doing the whole thing so from that point of view it is pretty good.”
Although the CDT may be a new phenomenon in Scotland, in many countries around the world including Australia, Canada and many US states, there has been for many years, a dental professional known as a ‘denturist’. This was usually a registered dental technician who had gone on to take further clinical training, and which enabled them to work exclusively with an edentulous patient for the supply of dentures only.
The dentists in these countries found that they had an immediate moral boost as they could now work full time on what they had been trained to do: working with and saving the natural dentition. They also work very closely with the denturists and refer patients in need of dentures directly to them.
CDTs all have jobs to do and if, as they hope, these are performed to the standards acceptable to the GDC, their contribution will make for far better patient protection. There is room for crossover within the profession and, more importantly, to be a key part of a communicable dental team.
At present there are only a handful of GDC registered CDTs in Scotland. Amongst the first were Roger Maclachlan from Edinburgh Denture Clinic, Philip McKeown from Hamilton Dental Technicians and Alan Mitchell from the Cosmetic Denture Clinic in Rutherglen.
Their training was carried out through the George Brown College in Toronto and the KSS Deanery and all have diplomas in Clinical Dental Technology with the Royal College of Surgeons (England).
Through the University of Edinburgh and KSS Deanery, further CDTs will soon be registered to practice in Scotland. At present, the UK and Ireland have approximately 130 CDTs.
As fully trained and registered clinical dental technicians, Roger, Philip and Alan have high hopes that they will fit into the dental team and play a key role working with dentists and other dental professionals, although working independently in denture clinics.
With more education facilities participating to train technicians, within a few years a CDT should be a normal, integral part of the dental team.