Dentistry and dental costs in South Africa:
Expect world-class dentistry at a fraction of the cost Dentistry in South Africa is on a par with the best in the world. There are two regulatory bodies,, the South African Dental Association (SADA) and the Dental Therapy Association of South Africa. These bodies are part of the World Health Organisation so that South Africa stays abreast with top standards of oral hygiene and surgery according to global standards. Because of a favourable exchange rate making dentals costs in South Africa very affordable, and the high quality of care patients receive, dental tourism has grown exponentially in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
It is estimated dental costs in South Africa for world-class procedures are one-tenth to one-sixth less expensive than in Europe, Australia or the United States. Most dental tourism comes from Europe and other African countries.
The role of SADA
SADA is extremely well regulated and it governs dentistry in South Africa as well as matters pertaining to dental costs in South Africa.
It’s core functions are:
1. Communication. Members are kept up-to-date with seminars, dental education, jobs calendar events and more. It also keeps open the lines of communication between the public and the dental body.
2. Intellectual input. It assists the profession to be NHI-ready - dental care at government grassroots levels are not as high as in the public sector due to a lack of funding, but is considerably higher than at the same level in other countries. The adoption of an NHI-like system is being mooted for a phased roll-out. It will essentially mean that private dentists will have to provide subsidised care to those within a certain radius who cannot afford it. It has been argued that this will raise private dental costs in South Africa. It is not foreseen though that costs will ever rise so sharply as to affect dental tourism. It will not phase out private care though. Other roles here include monitoring statutory gazettes and circulars, submitting SADA input to government and briefing dentists, and bringing dentistry into industry debates and meetings.
3. Regulating private and public cover. Again, this has implications for dental costs in South Africa. Private care cannot become a law unto itself. The standards, equipment and techniques are superb and dentists deserve great rates. But if left unchecked, as with any industry, the costs could spiral to such an extent that even medical aids or medical insurance would not be able to keep up. The role here is advisory more than regulatory, with legal input also given.
4. Advocacy and representation. SADA puts the democratically reached opinions of members to government bodies, NGOs, the public, organisations and agencies. It gives dentists a united voice in influencing public policy, and formulating and promoting sound National Oral Health Policy.
5. Legal and ethical advice. Members are kept up-to-date with health-related regulations and other important legal and ethical matters.
6. Public awareness. SADA helps drive awareness of dentistry in South Africa and abroad. Locally, the public is encourage to treat dental care as they would care for the rest of their body, and to get checkups regularly. The public is made aware of how the industry subscribes to only the highest standards of excellence.
7. Education. SADA oversees educational grants, webinars, workshops, further training and a fully accredited scientific dental journal, the SA Dental Journal.
Dental procedures and practices offered in South Africa
You can get any routine, orthodontic, paediatric, surgical or cosmetic dental procedure in South Africa that you could anywhere else in the world. When it comes to cosmetic dentistry in South Africa, the biggest demand from a tourism point of view is for veneers and smile makeovers and tooth implants. There is strong demand for this too at local private level, but in public grassroots level it is mostly about routine care and fixing cleft palettes.
You cannot buy any illegal dental services in South Africa. The industry is tightly regulated.
Dental Tourism in South Africa works both ways
There are over 4 500 registered dentists in South Africa who are able to cater to the needs of the ever-expanding dental tourism industry, so there is no skills shortage. South Africa has become a preferred dental tourism provider because patients who may have gone elsewhere for cheaper dentistry, found that there were risks involved. These are:
● Bleeding gums
● Loose implants
In the long run, these risks can erase any cost savings. However, the standards of dentistry in South Africa along with the affordable costs of dentistry in South Africa have remained in tact. There have been no reported cases of medical tourism ‘fails’ in this country. Practitioners know that should something like that happen, they would be struck off the roll. It would affect their livelihoods permanently.
State of the art medical care received in most of the country includes:
● Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics (CEREC)
● The Wand - a pain-free, scientifically computed anesthetic injection system.
It’s not surprising that standards of excellence pervade - the route to becoming a dentist in South Africa is tough and a five-year degree minimum is required. Training and further exams and board exams are required, depending on the speciality chosen. Also, as per SADA, all members are required to undergo continuous learning and upskilling.
This has also made local dentists incredibly valuable abroad, with many having been actively recruited by European countries in the past, after passing relevant foreign board exams. This means dental tourism works both ways with local dentists leaving to solidify experience abroad or being actively lured into short-term or other contracts abroad. Dr Roy Huson has worked for over 17 years in the UK under celebrity dentist Dr Joe Oliver. His skills and qualifications set him apart.
So good is the reputation of dentistry in South Africa, that most medical aid insurers operating in the dental tourism field are happy to cover in whole or in part dental costs in South Africa. You can enjoy your dental experience in South Africa without fear or hesitation in comfort and privacy. The country is a haven of modern facilities, safari and other adventure or holiday experiences, and no communication barrier exists.
A recent smile makeover by Dr Roy Richard Huson.
Click on the smile gallery to learn more: http://www.silveroaksdentalclinic.co.za/index.php/smile-gallery