The Malaysian Dental Association is deeply concerned about the ongoing illegal practices of dental procedures in the Nation. Some have even blamed the association or authorities for not taking steps to counter such a serious matter.
The issue is more than roadside tooth pullers or sidewalk instant dentures that we know in the past. The whole nation, at one point in time, was shocked by the number of news reports of fake braces, some of which were successfully prosecuted under the respective regulations.
Unfortunately, this was not enough to discourage perpetrators from ceasing their modus operandi. One can simply put in a keyword in the search engine and an alarming flow of such advertisements is easily available. Although much awareness has been created in the past and even recently, these services are just too attractive to be resisted by the general public.
One of the ever popular services is fake braces, which offers a quick fix for crooked teeth at a very attractive price. With just a simple SMS or any messaging services, one can secure an appointment for the said procedure. The illegal service is usually carried out in non-clinical settings such as hotel rooms or residential houses.
Victims of such services suffer tremendously from poorly delivered “treatment”, which often causes more harm than before the procedure was carried out. Most times, the cost to treat the complications is heftier than if patients sought treatment from a licensed dentist right from the start.
These fake dentists are not trained personnel, and they do not use materials approved by the Medical Device Authority of the Ministry of Health Malaysia. To make matters worse, these illegal procedures are not carried out according to standard infection control protocols, which is of utmost importance to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases between patients and practitioners.
Hence, in addition to suffering complications as a result of these illegal services, the general public is further exposed to health risk of transmissible diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
Next, we have this group of so-called “beauticians” who started using dental instruments, again not approved, and putting them into the mouths of their customers, thinking that what they are doing is just part of the general aesthetic services like, “manicuring” teeth or facial treatment and so on.
What is even more of a concern is that there are now courses or academies to train the general public to be a so-called dental beautician. The Malaysian Dental Association is completely baffled at how these academies begin to advertise openly on social media.
If not curbed, these newly minted beauticians will eventually dupe and “treat” the unsuspecting public, providing fake veneers, fake braces and illegal whitening procedures. The danger of putting up thick white coverings for a quick fix of crooked teeth or to achieve a movie-star smile, often lands the customers into needing to get them removed later on because of severe gum disease which is bound to develop.
Besides, we now also have companies with fantastic ideas of treating dental problems without the need to see a dentist. We are aware of outlets that offer do-it-yourself whitening services at malls using bleaching chemicals or home-delivered teeth whitening kits.
Customer care service has been reported to be poor and often leads to frustration. The fact that there were no physical contact or physically applying the whitening solution to the customers does not mean that these companies are not liable.
Adding on to the list, apart from those mentioned earlier, we are also aware of companies that opened up outlets that offer “invisible” braces, again without the hassle to book an appointment with a dental office. Some of them deliver starter packs to the consumers to take a mould of their teeth (dental impression) and later a set of invisible braces will be delivered to their doorsteps.
These are often advertised freely on social media, inviting the general public to come for a scan of their teeth and later the braces will be delivered to the customers. If at all a dentist is needed, these companies often partner with dentists to help them take dental impressions or dental X-rays. Such a concept of service is totally unacceptable and is misleading the general public.
According to the law, any form of dental treatment has to be delivered by a dental practitioner, who is registered with the Malaysian Dental Council, at a registered dental clinic. Just like our medical colleagues, it takes years of training to practice safely. There is so much science behind all of these treatments, and dentistry is not “carpentry” work that any layman can do.
The Malaysian Dental Association urges the public to always be vigilant and to stay away from all these “too good to be true” dental services. If in doubt, the general public can call the authorities – the Malaysian Dental Council, for verification and even lodge complaints to them for this matter. The Malaysian Dental Council’s contact number is 03-8318 6440.
At the same time, there is a need to have a hassle-free and concerted effort, involving multiple authorities to clamp down illegal dentistry. On this note, the Association strongly feels that the only way to battle this is a smart partnership with all relevant stakeholders. This is important so that the whole nation can receive high quality and safe dental treatment.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.