This article first appeared in theSun Buzz World Oral Health Day edition HERE
Proper dental treatment by qualified professionals can be expensive and have drawn some to seek out cheaper alternatives but are they safe?
In conjunction with World Oral Health Day on March 20th, BUZZ has invited licensed dentist and dental content creator, Dr Shawn Paul, to shed light on reasons why fake dentistry is harmful and how you can protect yourself.
We’ve all seen the promos and had the same thoughts ...
Cheap dental veneers promotion! Whitening at the mall! Braces done in the comfort of your home!
These advertisements are designed to make you wonder, ‘Should I try this product out? I am afraid of dentists and dental treatments are very expensive, maybe this would be a better alternative?’
To that, Dr Shawn had this to say, “Try it at your own risk”.
What exactly is fake dentistry?
Essentially, fake dentistry in Malaysia is a dental treatment performed by persons who are not dentists and/or do not possess a certificate to practice dentistry in Malaysia. Qualified dentists hold the Annual Practising Certificate (APC), which has to be renewed annually by the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC).
What are the popular treatments provided by fake dentists?
Fake veneers, fake braces, fake clear aligners, unlicensed teeth whitening, dentures, among others.
Why do people go to fake dentists?
Some patients truthfully do not even know that the person they are going to is not a registered dentist so this stems from the lack of awareness. On the other hand, others are fearful of dentists or feel that dentists are too expensive.
Hence, they take the cheaper alternative. Although the treatments are cheaper, the irreversible damage done by these fake dentists may lead the patient to seek a registered dentist to undo and repair the damage done. This incurs additional costs and at times, the damage done may have been so severe that the tooth may need to be extracted.
How does a patient do a background check on his or her dentist?
You may search online for DPIMS (http://dpims.moh.gov.my) which stands for the Dental Practitioners’ Information Management System. Once you have opened the website, head over to the column of ‘Search for Practitioners’ and this will allow you to enter the name of your dentist.
If your dentist is a registered one, his or her name will appear, along with their registration status (active or inactive), date of registration, qualifications as well as their current practising address.
Dentists or fake dentists who are not registered with the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) will not have their name in the DPIMS registry, hence are not eligible to provide dental treatment legally in Malaysia. Always be wary if the person does not seem like a regular dentist in a dental clinic
Why are people discouraged from seeking treatment from fake dentists?
Dentistry provided by a non-licensed person is most likely to bring more harm than benefit. In most cases, patients who seek out the treatment will need repair, removal or replacement by a licensed dental practitioner.
A non-licensed dental practitioner or a fake dentist does not go through the strict 5-year training in universities that qualified dentists go through. Hence, the treatment provided by the fake dentist may not have proper scientific backing and may cause irreversible damage to a person’s teeth.
How are the treatments harmful to patients?
As mentioned before, fake dentists are not trained in a dental university for 5 long years about the oral cavity and principles of treatment. This leads to treatment that is not biologically correct, which may lead to severe gum disease, loosening of teeth, severe sensitivity or even teeth that eventually would need to be extracted due to incorrect treatment!
Another way how fake dentistry is harmful to patients is that the equipment and materials used is not regulated by any governing body. Hence, the equipment and materials may be bought online or may even be a counterfeit product that ends up in your mouth.
Some fake dentists don’t even wear gloves, and most do not practice the strict infection control that licensed dentists must adhere to for the patient’s safety. Many diseases such as Hepatitis and HIV may spread due to improper sterilisation of equipment used in the oral cavity.
What to do if you have been a victim of fake dentistry?
Seek help from a registered dentist immediately to assess and repair, or undo the damage done. Do not worry about what the registered dentist may say or think, as we are trained to assist each and every patient without judgment.
It would be helpful if you could remember the details of the place where the fake dentistry has been done so that a proper report may be made, which may save other patients from a similar fate.