Chief dental officer to step down after 12 years

Prof Patrick Tseng (left) will be succeeded by Dr Chng Chai Kiat as chief dental officer at the Ministry of Health as well as Registrar of the Singapore Dental Council.
Prof Patrick Tseng (left) will be succeeded by Dr Chng Chai Kiat as chief dental officer at the Ministry of Health as well as Registrar of the Singapore Dental Council.

Taking over on May 1 is the current head of dental services at KK Hospital

The country's chief dental officer (CDO) steps down at the end of the month after 12 years in the role.

Associate Professor Patrick Tseng, 58, will return to full-time dental practice at the National University Hospital.

He will be replaced by Dr Chng Chai Kiat, 42, who now heads dental services at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

Prof Tseng has overseen a number of key reforms in his time as chief dental officer, including setting up the Dental Specialist Accreditation Board in 2008, and initiating the registration and regulation of dental therapists.

The Singapore Dental Council (SDC) yesterday said the registration of dental specialists "was necessary for the ... development of specialist dental practices... for the management of more complex cases".

Prof Tseng also made continuing professional education compulsory for dentists to ensure that they keep up with "the rapid changes made in scientific knowledge and dental practice, as well as developments in new materials, techniques and technologies", the SDC said.

It added that Prof Tseng "is a highly respected leader in the dental community both locally and globally".

Prof Tseng is relinquishing both his position as chief dental officer at the Ministry of Health as well as Registrar of the SDC.

Dr Chng takes over both roles, which are linked, on May 1.

The SDC said: "Dr Chng is well regarded in the dental fraternity, with deep insights on the evolving dental landscape."

It added that his experience and leadership in KKH, coupled with a strong track record, "will provide a strong foundation to contribute well in his new role as CDO, and advance the dental profession both in Singapore and internationally".

Dr Chng has been a Health Ministry consultant since 2008. During this time, he pushed for subsidies for patients with cranofacial anomalies or special needs, as well as for those getting hospital-based dentistry.

He has also been the SDC's executive secretary since 2011, overseeing the registration, regulations and conduct of dentists and therapists, including investigating complaints made against them.

Dr Chng, who leaves the executive secretary role once he becomes SDC Registrar, has also been working with MOH Holdings to digitise patients' dental information for the National Electronic Health Records. This will provide people with one medical/dental record, no matter where they are treated here.

Dr Chng told The Straits Times yesterday that dental care here will need to evolve, given the longer life expectancy and changes in dietary patterns.

He said: "We need to look at the importance of oral health to overall well-being, adopt preventive interventions, and ensure access to appropriate dental services."

Dr Chng said the usual model of care may have to be reversed to care for the rapidly ageing population, with dentists making home visits instead of patients going to a clinic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2018, with the headline 'Chief dental officer to step down after 12 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe