Orthodontic Department celebrates 50 years
Deur Prof S. Dawjee
Gelaai op 04 April 2012
Orthodontics was introduced at the University of Pretoria in 1951 as a subdivision of the Department of Conservative Dentistry. Prof John Frederik van der Sandt de Villiers spearheaded this process and became the first senior lecturer and Head of this subdivision.
Academic and support staff in the department -2012
John Frederik van der Sandt de Villiers was born in 1909. He obtained the following dental qualifications: LDS and RCS (England), MDS and DPP (Rand) and Certificate of Training in Orthodontics (Columbia). In 1951 he received a part-time appointment at the University of Pretoria, after which he became a lecturer, senior lecturer and finally Professor in the Orthodontic Department which was formalised in 1962. Prof van der Sandt de Villiers filled the post as Head of the Department from 1963 to the end of 1967, after which he was succeeded by Prof MatieGrobler.
Prof Grobler was a senior lecturer in the Department of Orthodontics and from 1968 until 1975 he assumed the position as Head of the Department. He designed and implemented the new Orthodontic Department and has been involved in the teaching of under- and postgraduate students for the past 54 years. He obtained his BChD from the University of Pretoria in 1955, followed by the DPO, RFPS from Glasgow and his MChD from the University of Pretoria. Although retired, Prof Grobler is still actively involved with the training of registrars as an Honorary Professor.
In 1976, Prof Grobler was succeeded by Prof Salomon Theodorus Zietsman. Prof Zietsman was born in 1928 in the Orange Free State. He obtained the BDS degree in 1961 and a Dip Dent in 1963 at the University of the Witwatersrand. He also completed a Diploma in Public Health in 1967 and the MChD in Orthodontics at the University of Pretoria. In 1982, he became the full-time Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry and was succeeded in 1983 by Prof Johan de Mûelenaere as the Head of the Department of Orthodontics. Prof de Mûelenaere resigned in 1992 to enter the business world on a full-time basis, but was retained as an Honorary Professor in the Department.
Prof de Mûelenaere was instrumental in adding an international flavour to the Department. In 1990, the Department of Orthodontics liaised with the University of Ghent in Belgium and a multicentre study was undertaken to evaluate the skeletal relapse in orthodontics.
At the end of 1992, the Department consisted of three Honorary Professors, namely Proff de Mûelenaere, Grobler and Nel; one visiting Professor, Prof Mizrahi from the University of the Witwatersrand, and five visiting specialist consultants. A full-time lecturer post was filled by a non-specialist who was mainly involved in undergraduate training. There were also four posts filled by registrars in the department.
New courses such as the MSc(Odont) and Dip(Odont) were introduced in Dentistry for non-specialist study in Orthodontics and a number of postgraduate students enrolled for these. In 1992, Honorary Professor in the Department of Orthodontics, Prof SJP Nel obtained the PhD(Odont) degree. This was the first doctoral degree achieved in the history of the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Pretoria.
In 1993, Prof William Wiltshire became the acting Head of the Department until his permanent appointment in 1994. He made a remarkable contribution to the local and international development of the Department and it was a setback for the Department when he resigned at the end of 1997 to take up a similar post at the University of Manitoba in Canada.
Prof Wiltshire delivered numerous national and international presentations and received numerous prizes and awards. Fifty seven publications, 82 abstracts, 10 introductory articles and eight letters written by him appeared in print. He was the promoter for many postgraduate students and often served as external examiner. Under his tutelage, training was revised by the re-curriculum of undergraduate courses in Orthodontics as well as post-graduate courses.
During his tenure, the department retained and extended its association with other institutions, and the first two foreign candidates registered for the post-graduate course. Prof Wiltshire also initiated transformation within the Department through the intake of candidates from previously disadvantaged communities.
In 1998, Prof Zietsman, the Faculty’s former Dean, returned to serve as Head of the Department after Prof Wiltshire’s departure. Prof Zietsman served as Head of the Department until 2000 when, as a result of poor health, Dr Antoinette du Toit acted on his behalf. Prof Zietsman’s passing in 2006 was a sad loss to the Department and orthodontic fraternity.
Dr Du Toit served as acting Head of the Department and was supported by Prof Piet Botha who directed the MChD program until the position was permanently filled in 2009 by Prof Phumzile Hlongwa who became the first black female in the country to hold this position. In 2010, however, Prof Hlongwa was appointed Head of the School of Oral Health Sciences at the University of Witwatersrand and Prof Salahuddien Dawjee now occupies the seat as Head of the Department. He is a senior specialist accredited with five degrees in Dentistry, inclusive of a PhD.
The supporting full time academic staff in the Department consists of Dr F Suliman (Lecturer) Dr M Motsepe (Dentist) and Ms M Motsepe (Oral Hygienist). Several consultants also tutor the MChD students on a session basis. There are three assistants namely Mss R de Wet, K Mathabane and L Masango who manage, help and support the students and patients in the clinical wards. Mrs Yvonne Skinner, the Department secretary, administers the organisational and clerical tasks as she has diligently done for the past 29 years. It is mandatory for all academic and support staff in the Department to attend job specific continuing education programs offered by the University in order to develop themselves and improve the Department.
The Department is responsible for the teaching and training of Orthodontics at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level. At the undergraduate level, Orthodontics commences at the start of the third year and continues through to the final year of the BChD curriculum.
Postgraduate courses that are on offer include a Postgraduate Diploma in Dentistry (Orthodontics), aMScDent, a MChD and a PhD. The minimum duration of the Postgraduate Diploma in Dentistry (Orthodontics) is one year and this course is usually oversubscribed with an average success rate of three graduates per annum. Distance learning by means of the electronic media is standard practice in the Department and students from as far as Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya have completed this course. The MScDent course has a minimum duration of two years part-time study with the presentation of a major dissertation at the final exam.
The MChD course is a full-time four-year speciality programme and the Department trains four students at a time. All students who are selected to take the course usually qualify within the stipulated term. In the 50 years of its existence, 46 registrars qualified as orthodontists and eight of these specialists advanced to become Professors at Dental Faculties in South Africa. The Department also benefits from the expertise of enthusiastic consultants who unselfishly dedicate their time and effort to develop and promote future orthodontists. Notable among the consultants are: Profs MatieGrobler and Piet Botha, Drs Pierre Ferreira, Bertus van Niekerk, Lourens Pretorius, Johan Hatting, AK Seedat, Birgit Scherman, Robert Drummond, Shahide Choonara, Colleen Forsberg and Alfred Dippenaar.
In order to meet the high demand for orthodontic treatment and reduce the long waiting period for treatment, the Department has introduced a Polyclinic where patients, particularly children with an urgent need for treatment, are prioritised. The treatment time rendered in this clinic does not exceed six to nine months and is aimed at maximising the psychological comfort that orthodontic treatment provides to the developing child.
The thrust of research in the Department is focused on facial aesthetic perceptions among the diverse racial groups in South Africa, as well as to explore and develop cost effective treatment modalities. This research theme will enable us to identify and value the orthodontic treatment needs of different population groups and to make orthodontic treatment accessible and affordable to all. Local and international conference presentations by the Department staff are encouraged and representation by a staff member is made on an annual basis. The department also publishes one journal article each year, with the hope of releasing more publications in the foreseeable future.