Montagu’s dental patients smile broadly
Western Cape Health in the Cape Winelands in partnership with the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) spent the weekend of 7 – 9 March 2013 improving the oral health of 365 children and adults living in the Montagu area.
Montagu Clinic served as the dental surgery, where dentistry students and their lecturers offered the following services:
- Scaling and polishing
The equipment, such as autoclaves, instrumentation, specialised portable chairs and all consumables, were supplied by the university. These were transported to the clinic and installed on theFriday, to allow for setting-up and preparation. The Department’s oral health team in the Montagu subdistrict had been screening children at schools; those who required dentistry had been referred. The community care workers and clinics in the area informed patients of the outreach who were served on a first-come-first-served basis. The team of dentists treated 216 patients on Saturday and 133 on the Sunday. A further 16 children under 5 years of age were seen at Montagu Hospital where their extractions were done under anaesthetic.
‘Local community members started queuing early in the morning and it was heart-breaking to have to turn away so many patients,’ said Dr Rob Barrie, Outreach co-ordinator of the Faculty of Dentistry, UWC.
A total of 916 teeth were extracted, 23 fillings were placed and a further 16 patients had scaling and polishing. The normal cost to a patient visiting a private dentist for a basic filling could run to almost R500. If one considers that the average extraction costs R300, this outreach spent R274 800 on extractions alone! The faculty’s oral hygiene students used the opportunity to visit crèches and schools in the area to promote oral health by demonstrating teeth-brushing technique and explain the importance of healthy teeth.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, says: “Congratulations to our team who did sterling work. Oral health is important because it affects the health of the whole body. This campaign fits so nicely into our provincial government’s message of creating wellness. By looking after our teeth, we prevent other diseases which are in the long run, detrimental to our health.”
The Cape Winelands District has a population of 750 000 people of which 82% are reliant on public health services. The oral health team is made up of seven permanent, and two community-service, dentists as well one dentist on contract and, five oral hygienists. The oral hygienists focus on preschools and schools, as well as clinical work in an effort to improve oral health from a young age.
The outreach assisted the Department in reaching many patients in one go, thus relieving the pressure on the regular service.
The Cape Winelands District together with UWC Dental Faculty is planning a second outreach, also known as a ‘mop-up’, in May. This outreach will be specifically aimed at those patients who had to be turned away during the last campaign.