Perceptions regarding the shortened dental arch among dental practitioners in the Western Cape Province, South Africa
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AIM AND OBJECTIVES: This survey was conducted to determine the knowledge of and opinions related to the shortened dental arch (SDA), among dentists in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. METHODS: The study sample included two consecutive groups, drawn by a process of randomisation from the registered dentist population that included general dentists, specialists, those who had emigrated and retired dentists. A self-administered questionnaire was mailed, e-mailed and/or faxed to those selected. Reminders were either e-mailed or made by telephone over a period of six months. RESULTS: A final sample of 84 respondents with a mean age of 43 years (SD=11.9) was obtained. This represented a response rate of 23% (n= 84) from the final working sample (n=368), derived from the target group (n=618) originally contacted. All participants completed an informed consent form in which confidentiality was assured. Several respondents (40%) said they had heard about the SDA while at university, which would be in line with the age range of respondents in relation to introduction of the concept into dental curricula. As many as 62% had never read any research articles related to the concept which could partly account for the low response rate. The majority (86%) felt that patients can function with a SDA and that they would recommend acceptance to their patients. CONCLUSION: Respondents know of the potential benefit that the SDA may have for their patients and see it as a viable alternative treatment option for the partially dentate patient, even though their level of current knowledge of the subject must be considered questionable.