BACKGROUND : Orthodontists are essential members of a craniofacial team (American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association Team Standards Committee)1. Because cleft lip/palate (CLP) and craniofacial deformities (CFD) vary in severity and facial growth patterns, treatment is complex and lengthy and requires collaboration among different disciplines. Consequently, orthodontists need specialised training in this field to reach the treatment goals of good facial growth, aesthetically acceptable appearance, and dental occlusion. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to provide adequate training for orthodontists, so they can not only provide efficient treatment but can also undertake a leadership role in the field.
OBJECTIVES : To obtain information regarding:
the CLP and CFD academic education of orthodontists the professional services that orthodontists offer to CLP and CFD patients
the educational and training needs of orthodontists in this field
METHOD : A 54-item online survey to collect quantitative data was conducted by means of an interview, using a randomised sample of orthodontists attending the annual scientific conference of the South African Society of Orthodontics.
RESULTS : The questionnaire was completed by 53 orthodontists, 54.6% of whom had more than 10 years of professional experience. Of the respondents, 84.8% experienced some clinical exposure in this field during their postgraduate education.
Treatment for CLP and CFD patients was offered by 92% of the professionals, but only 21.7% had high confidence in their expertise in treating CLP/CFD patients. Of the respondents, 88% agreed there was a need to improve CLP and CFD education, and the majority recommended fellowship training and certified courses. The rest suggested continuing-education workshops.
CONCLUSION : Most of the orthodontists provided treatment for both CLP and CFD patients despite some of them lacking confidence in treating such cases. The majority agreed that there is a strong need to establish an educational strategy to meet the needs of orthodontists who treat CLP and CFD patients. The respondents suggested that programmes such as fellowship training, degree couses, certified courses, and continuing education workshops could be used.
The research paper is a part of fulfilment PhD degree at Discipline of
Dentistry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal.