According to Malaysian Dental Association (MDA), the dental profession as a whole was saddened by the apparent lack of awareness by the general public on the seriousness of this matter, with some still resorting to seeking dental care from these unregistered (illegal) practitioners.
Dr Noor Hisham (Health director-general) said the fake dentists learned and picked up the basic know-how of dentistry from You-Tube channels. Learning the mannerisms of a dentist from their seniors in the illicit trade would boost their credentials in the business. They simply source the tools for their trade from online stores. Those dental apparatuses can be easily bought online and its make difficult for ministry to control them.
These fake dentists had blatantly advertised their trade, offering services from fillings, extractions, dentures and application of braces to other more complex procedures, for a fraction of what private dental clinics would normally charge. The group of fraudulent dentists also did not operate from a permanent address for fear of being caught. They plied their trade from one place to another, even covering different states where demand is high, setting up their dental chair in their make-shift clinics in hotels, guesthouses, beauty centres, spas and private homes. Some also just set up their work station at roadside, pasar malam, and some even go to your house to service your teeth.
There were numerous actual cases where victims of these fake dentist were left with uncontrolled teeth movement, loss of teeth and gum infection. Another of the chief worries was the infection control. Infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis can be transmitted through blood and even saliva. The equipment they used are not sterilized! They can use one forcep to pull out one customer’s teeth, and use the same forcep to extract your teeth. The public and private hospitals, as well as clinics had attended to numerous cases where dentists had to work to minimise the damage done by the fraudulent dentists. The lack of medical knowledge among these unregistered practitioners also subjects their patients to increased risk of complications and undesirable side effects following the treatment, or even mortality in medically compromised individuals.
If care is not taken in the diagnosis, treatment planning and case management of any dental case, the patient may suffer dire consequences, such as damage to the teeth, gums and supporting bone, which may be irreversible.
Can you imagine how dangerous it is?
The practice of dentistry was regulated via Act 51, Dental Act 1971, for the safety of the patients in the country. The general public needs to carefully look for a practitioner who is legally registered with the Malaysian Dental Council. Any form of dental procedures should be carried out by a registered practitioner in public healthcare facilities or under a clinical environment in a premise that is registered under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.
If we want to benefit from the good quality treatment available nowadays, you have to change our attitudes and values towards dental and oral health. Many people do not have good dental treatments not because they cannot afford them but because they do not value them. So next time, when we think of visiting a dentist is very expensive or having a proper treatment is very expensive, think about how important our oral health and consequences of treatment with fake dentist. Maybe we will begin to appreciate the values of spending for it.