Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
FRAZAO, Paulo and CASTELLANOS, Roberto A.. The role of dental support staff in local health systems. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.5, n.2, pp. 106-115. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000200006.
Though numerous local health systems (sistemas locales de salud, or SILOS) in Brazil employ dental assistants, there is little information on the contributions these workers make to oral health programs. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of such workers in 10 SILOS in five municipalities in the state of São Paulo. Of the 325 dental assistants and dental hygienists employed in those systems, 245 (75.4%) answered a questionnaire that had been prepared. The results showed variations in the degree to which dental assistants participated in oral health promotion activities in the SILOS studied. In some SILOS, these workers devoted more time to dental health promotion activities than to helping perform dental tasks with individual patients. The most frequent oral health promotion activities were fluoride rinses, plaque detection followed by supervised brushing, and educational activities at basic health units and schools. In all cases, dental assistants working in the SILOS played a significant role in helping transform the practice of dentistry within the sphere of public health.