Earlier this month, Nurul Nadzirah Mohd Saidi made headlines after she pleaded guilty to the charge of illegally providing dental brace fitting services at a hotel in Kuala Terengganu. The 21-year-old admitted to providing the dental service despite having no professional qualification, claiming that she had picked up the skills from watching videos on YouTube.

She was charged under Section 27 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 for breaching Section 4(1) of the same law and was fined RM 25,000 by the Sessions Court for committing the offense.

In separate news, a girl ended up with her teeth glued together after she went to have braces done by another illegally practicing dentist.

Dr Manveen Singh, an orthodontist who has been practicing for over ten years, said that the person who fixed the braces left composite material used to stick the brackets all over the patients’ teeth, adding that it took him over an hour to remove the substance. He claimed that he has seen at least four patients in the year who have become victims of unqualified dentists.

Fake dentists pick up skills from watching videos online

According to health ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, at least ten unqualified dentists have been arrested in the past two years, most of whom were women in their 20s. Six of the ten found guilty were convicted and fined up to RM30,000 each. One other served a two-month jail-term as he was unable to pay the fine.

These scammers earn a lucrative amount from their services because of the high demand, said Noor Hisham, adding that they pick up their supposed skills from watching online videos while sourcing their dental tools from online stores, making it difficult for the ministry to control.

One of such “dentists” shared that the dentures he sells are sourced from his home country, China.

MDA: Caution needed if the price or location seem amiss

Many of these fraudulent dentists advertise their dental services such as fillings, extractions, fixing of braces and so on for much cheaper fees compared to the charges by private dental clinics. Extractions, for example, cost only RM20 per tooth.

According to Dr Chow Kai Foo, President of the Malaysian Dental Association (MDA), “Any quoted price that seems too low should be immediately suspect and checked thoroughly”, stressing that patients who are in doubt should attain more information first or contact a local dental clinic to inquire on prices.

Fake practitioners transform hotel rooms, guesthouses, beauty centres and spas, and even private homes to make-shift clinics with a dental chair, often moving from one place to another to cover areas of trade where demand is high, said Dr Noor Hisham. Some are even found operating in narrow pathways.

While illegal dentistry is usually performed in temporary places like hotel rooms and coffee shops, said Chow, all accredited dental clinics have permanent addresses and a license each from the Health Ministry.

Patients of quack dentists at risk of harmful infections

Dr Noraini Alwi, president of the Malaysia Association of Orthodontist, claimed that many of these unscrupulous individuals have been identified thanks to reports made by victims.

“This year alone, we have lodged 12 complaints and the victims are customers of our members,” she said, stressing that these pseudo-dentists have absolutely no knowledge of the profession or of sterilisation.

Chow has expressed deep concerns on patient safety in such dangerous procedures, adding that patients are at risk of being infected with harmful diseases such as hepatitis which are eventually more costly to treat and manage.

The association supports the verdicts made by the courts in imposing hefty fines and prison sentences to unqualified individuals found guilty of providing illegal dental services, he said, hoping that such penalties will be act as an effective deterrent.

The MDA strives to promote the art and science of dentistry for the public’s best interest, and is “always working with all stakeholders to ensure that the public is well served,” he said. MIMS


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