Registered Dental Surgery Assistants: The Unrecognized Angels Of GHS.

Registered Dental Surgery Assistants: The Unrecognized Angels Of GHS.

By: Shaibu Issifu.


Registered Dental Surgery Assistants(RDSA) are category of health professionals trained to professionally assist Dentists in the performance of their work in the operatory, they ensure all procedures move smoothly, perform basic examinations, undertake oral health promotion and prevention. Before this laudable course was introduced in 2007 in Ghana at College of Health – Kintampo, ordinary health workers (RGNs and Enrolled nurses) were given rigidly programmed orders to follow without any professional sense of innovation and flexibility. However, this RDSA was started in America in I885 by Dr. C. Edmund Kells of blessed memory using his wife. It is on record that 90% of the world’s population are suffering from either Dental Caries or Periodontal Diseases, this is largely due to ignorance as a result of limited dental facilities nation wide (Brong Ahafo Region of 27 districts has only seven (7) Dental facilities; Kintampo OHTSC, Sunyani, Dorma, Hwiddiem, Sampa, Brekum and Wienchi but only five(5) facilities have dentists with the exception of private dental clinics), these category of health workers are taking oral health care to the door steps of the ordinary Ghanaians through cost effective innovative outreaches and other health promotive measures to demystify the the horrendous effect of oral health as perceived by the general populace. What majority of Ghanaians are not aware of is the fact that poor oral hygiene can cripple once life and the nation as a whole by causing myriad of problems and unexpected systemic conditions such us ; 1. Preterm delivery of babies 2. Alzheimer’s disease (degeneration of the brain) 3. Endocarditis (Heart disease) Kidney disease 3. Halitosis (foul breath) 4. Severe preventable pains 5. Loss of precious teeth 6. Malnutrition etc.


The job description cannot be listed because they are too many, these are few;

1. Prepare set – ups for any dental procedure

2. Seating of patients and chair side assistance

3. Sterilization of all surgical and non surgical instruments

4. Ensures smooth flow of instruments during procedure (forehanded dentistry)

5. Perform basic examinations and referral

6. Radiographical work (taking, mounting and labeling x rays)

7. Emergency care services (CPR)

8. Secretarial duties (Registering clients, documentations, inventory taking etc.)

9. Laboratory duties (Taking impression, casting and trimming models, taking and labeling specimens)

10. Oral health promotion (health education) and countless others.


It is clear that from the above job description, the RDSA will encounter a number of job related risks, these includes;

  1. Airborne infection due to the aerosols constantly generated during procedures.
  2. Needle prick
  3. Injuries from sharps.
  4. Heavy metal poisoning due to the inhalation aerosols from amalgam.
  5. Curvature problem
  6. Blood borne infections due to constant contact with blood
  7. Nasocomial infection among several others.


I don’t even know for sure if they even have a condition of service because these critical staff are paid lower than all Diploma nurses, though negotiations put RDSAs at level purging with all diploma nurses, even though it’s clear that the job descriptions of a nurses and RDSAs are parallel with the balance of scale tilting down towards the direction of the RDSA. Fair wages and Salary Commission(FWSC) have unilaterally placed RDSAs at level 15low instead of 15High, though they deserve better and far better.

Due to this unilateral posture taken by FWSC, an agency of government, the payslip of RDSA wrongly bears the name Technical Officer(TO) RDSA just to qualify them and justify the wrong salary placement(15L), the name is RDSA so where from the TO? Is it a ddeliberate justification for the biased placement on the salary scale? Can’t they (government and it’s agencies) with due respect separate apples from oranges? Is it not factual that RDSAs are critical staff in short supply? This unilateral and “ y3ntie obiaa ” posture of fair wages is the root cause of the unending labor unrest. This is at variance with the labor act of 2003 and the spirit and letter of 1992 Republican constitution.

In the midst of these daunting challenges and unfair treatment by government and it’s agencies, i urge all RDSAs to be resielient with their work, be loyal to your dentist and help the nation to reduce the rate of

  1. Dental caries
  2. Periodontal diseases
  3. Pericoronitis
  4. Halitosis
  5. Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (ANUG)
  6. Effects of birth defects etc.

Ghanaians would fight for you, your work would speak loud and clear for you, you are certainly heroes of our century.

Shaibu Issifu

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