As there were many new improvements that were discussed, the previous 1971 Dental Act and council were dissolved altogether and replaced with the new Dental Bill 2017 and a new council and therapist board.
The new bill seeks to establish the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) and the Malaysian Dental Therapist Board (MDTB) to have a more effective regulation on dentistry, as well as enforce stricter disciplinary procedures on practitioners and review the fees for registration and applications for practising certificates.
This will in turn ensure the safety of dental patients and maintain a certain standard of dentistry practice in Malaysia, according to a source close to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Restrictions in practice for dental general practitionersIn the new bill, Section 34 (1) says: “A practitioner whose name does not appear in the Specialist Division of the Dental Register shall not practice as a dental specialist in that specialty.”
By definition, the job of a dentist differs from that of an orthodontist where the latter is a specialist who is trained to deal with more complex cases such as performing oral surgery, fixing malpositioned teeth and jaws, as well as braces fixing and treatment. A dentist typically diagnoses, prevents and treats oral diseases, and performs other minor and basic procedures.
This has caused concern among the dental professionals as it might mean that dental GPs will be subjected to only perform basic dental services and refer the patients to specialists for other procedures.
To clear up the confusion, a delegation from the MDA and Islamic Dental Association of Malaysia (IDAM) submitted a memorandum to Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya on 29 November.
The honourable Deputy Minister and MOH legal advisor, Mr Peh, acknowledged the concern, and confirmed that the clause is confined to registration and not practice. As such, there is no implied restriction of the practice of dentistry by GPs in the clause.
Dr Ng Woan Tyng, MDA President, said that any clause that limits the freedom of practice of dentistry by the general dentist will reduce the accessibility of many dental procedures to the general public especially in the rural areas. This will result in monopolies driving up prices for the people and may cause less informed members of the public to resort to illegal dentistry that will endanger their health, he adds.
Illegal dentists can now be punishedNew regulations were set with the announcement of the new dental bill. It provides the council and board, power to conduct disciplinary proceedings and impose punishment on their members violating the conditions and terms set.
As the previous 1971 Act did not enforce any punishments against unregistered or illegal dentists, the new bill states that actions can be taken against them as well as the registered practitioner who allows such dentists to practice in their premises.
“Applications for the Annual Practising Certificate (APC) by dental practitioners must be accompanied by continuing professional development (CPD) points and evidence of professional indemnity,” said Dr Ng.
The MDTB will be responsible to register and issue certificates to dental therapists and post-basic dental therapists based on the conditions and restrictions the board thinks fit to impose. A Fitness to Practice Panel set up by the board will evaluate the medical condition of a dental therapist or practitioner by requesting for ad hoc fitness checks. The board will also be responsible to regulate the registration examinations as well as the ethics and professional conducts of the dental therapists.
The Dental Council will be represented by accredited dental surgeons from both the public and private sector who are registered and practicing for at least seven years in Malaysia – who are allowed to approve and reject applications for registration of dental practitioners and specialists.
Dr Ng said the MDA hopes that dental practitioners will be given sufficient time to adapt to and comply with the new regulations. MIMS
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