Dentists across the island will soon have to enroll in a mandatory continuing education programme when seeking to renew their licences.

This was stressed by Minister of Health, John Boyce, who said that this would be one of the changes following a review and revision of the Dental Registration Act.

Delivering remarks at the opening of the 12th Annual Caribbean Dental Program Conference at the Savannah Hotel yesterday, Minister Boyce also noted that a Dental Specialist Register would also be established.??

???These amendments, among others, will assist the general public in making more informed choices when seeking dental services and assure them that the highest standards and quality are being maintained,??? he stated.

Stressing the importance of good oral health to the overall quality of life and emotional wellbeing of individuals, the Health Minister affirmed that his Ministry remained committed to addressing the priority areas outlined in the Oral Health Policy Document, namely oral health promotion and prevention, oral health services, human resource development and oral health information systems.

He added that the Ministry was in the process of implementing a Health Information System, where patient information would be recorded electronically at point of care.??Minister Boyce also pointed out that Barbados had fallen below the World Federation of Dentists??? target score for Decay, Filled and Missing Teeth (DFMT), but highlighted the favourable comparison of the island???s oral health indicators to other countries globally.

???As in all areas of health care, there are continuous advances in research, treatment methodologies and techniques within the field of dentistry??? Efforts to improve oral health have been ongoing for many years and??? our dental health service is undertaking diligent efforts to improve on the DMFT levels,??? Mr. Boyce affirmed.

He pointed out that the service provided oral health care mainly to school-aged children, and treated those who were in urgent need to stop further progression of tooth decay. The Minister also stated that staff worked closely with persons with disabilities and antenatal mothers who attended the polyclinics.

???It is anticipated that the demand for dental health services will increase in keeping with international trends. It is, therefore, of vital importance to continue the process of strengthening the integration of dental health services at the primary care level and to apply health promotion strategies to our programmes. The Ministry recognises this and is working towards the better utilisation of its resources to meet the anticipated future needs of the population???s demand for services, and to ensure the availability of adequate numbers of trained personnel,??? he maintained.

The conference was held under the theme, Taking Dentistry to the Next Level.

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