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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Plan may bite false teeth supply
False teeth
There are worries the supply of false teeth could be affected
Scotland is facing a new dental crisis under legislation being discussed at Holyrood, experts have warned.

MSPs are due to consider the compulsory registration of clinical dental technicians in a move aimed at improving patient safety.

However, campaigners believe it could result in thousands of people being unable to get their dentures repaired.

There are warnings that many clinical technicians who specialise in fitting false teeth could go out of business.

The technicians, known as denturists, are part of a group of dental professionals who may have to be regulated.

Under the proposal, technicians would have to register with the General Dental Council.

But they fear that the cost of gaining the necessary qualifications could put specialists who make and fit false teeth out of business.

We're willing to take any course provided but will carry on while that course is being set up
John McKay

However, the Scottish Executive said supplying dentures without the supervision of a dentist was already illegal and that ministers were considering underwriting the course fees of those undergoing the training, in return for guarantees to work for the NHS.

Hew Mathewson, president of the General Dental Council, told BBC Radio Scotland: "The situation is that this is illegal because there is no recognised training pathway for these people.

"It's only in the last few years that we've brought forward a curriculum and suggested that they could work legally from the end of July.

"We believe that denturists should be legalised but only when they've had appropriate training."

John Mackay, of the Association for the Promotion of Denturism (APD), said its members would be willing to go on a course recognised by the General Dental Council.

'Quality assure'

He said: "There is nowhere to train, the GDC haven't provided a course for us.

"We're willing to take any course provided but will carry on while that course is being set up."

Mr Matthewson said: "Up until now there has been no demand for a course, it's only in the last few weeks that the Association for the Promotion of Denturism has come forward and suggested they wanted a course in Scotland.

"Our organisation cannot provide courses because we're the people who regulate and quality assure those courses but I'm sure that providers in Scotland could be encouraged to bring forward courses.

"What we think is needed in Scotland is for someone to bring forward a course, possibly in conjunction with John's organisation, to recognise the experience and knowledge that people like John have and to provide the additional training that we think is necessary for them to operate safely and then let them do that."

Watch the views of a dental technician

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