Minister of Health, John Boyce. (FP)

The Ministry of Health will continue to work with the Caribbean Dental Programme and the Barbados Dental Association to ensure that the high standards of dentistry being practised in Barbados are maintained.

This assurance has come from Minister of Health, John Boyce, who told those gathered at the Savannah Hotel on Wednesday night for the 11th Annual Conference of the Caribbean Dental Programme, that the dental profession had shifted from the "drill and fill" mentality and was now an integral part of a multi-disciplinary approach to oral health promotion, prevention and treatment.

And, in order to improve on its standards, Mr. Boyce said the profession needed to implement a number of initiatives including making continuing education mandatory, upon which the eligibility for re-registration will be hinged.?? This requirement, he pointed out, had already been implemented for doctors, and the Nurses Act made it mandatory for nurses.

The Health Minister suggested other measures such as ensuring that dentists continually exposed themselves to new and innovative treatment modalities and methodologies and making sure that newly registered individuals complied and met basic standards of skill and competency.??

Acknowledging the link between oral health and good general health, Mr. Boyce said more communication was required between the professions of medicine and dentistry in order to improve on the quality of care that was given to patients.????

He noted that the conference, held under the theme: Perfecting that Bite with a Beautiful Smile, provided an opportunity for both professions to interact, build networks and create the capacity for evidence-based practice.

"The association between oral health and general health has been recognised for some time now.???? Former United States Surgeon General, the late C. Everret Koop is reported to have said, and I quote: ???You’re not healthy without good Oral Health’.

"The Report entitled: Oral health: Action Plan for Promotion and Integrated Disease Prevention, which was considered by delegates at the 60th World Health Assembly in 2007, acknowledged that there is an intrinsic link between oral health, general health and quality of life.?? Indeed it was suggested that since oral health is a determinant of general health and quality of life, countries should introduce and maintain policies and strategies intended.

"These include: promoting healthy diets and physical activity; preventing diseases related to tobacco and alcohol use; promoting oral health in schools so that children and young adults are encouraged to engage in self-care and to live healthy lifestyles; strengthening the management of HIV; and promoting the oral health of older persons," Mr. Boyce stated.

The Health Minister added that Barbados was the only country in the English-speaking Caribbean that had a written policy on Oral Health, having adopted it in 2009.


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