PETALING JAYA: The law may be clear that dental treatment must be carried out by a trained person but that is not the case on whether dentists should carry out orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontists said the highly specialised work is best left to those who were trained for it.
An orthodontist in Petaling who only wanted to be known as Dr Tan said she received an average of five cases of orthodontic complications a year.
All cases involved treatment done by non-specialist dentists.
“It’s common in Malaysia for dentists to carry out orthodontic treatment. Some cases turn out quite well while others do not.
“Among the disatisfaction that patients have expressed after the treatment are unsatisfactory teeth alignment, infected gums and prolonged treatment duration which was not progressing well,” she said.
Every orthodontist who is certified by the National Specialist Register of Malaysia has been trained clinically and taken certified examinations either locally or overseas.
They are equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to treat various types of malocclusion, she said.
On Friday, The Star carried a front page report exposing the multitude of illegal operators offering their “dental” services on social media, including orthodontic treatments by untrained persons which resulted in young patients suffering from glued teeth and infected gums.
Dr Tan said the public needs to be educated that braces treatment is not a cookbook treatment where each and every patient receives the same treatment option.
“Patients need to be closely monitored every four to six weeks and the treatment plan or procedure may change when teeth do not move according to plan,” she said.
Another orthodontist Dr Manveen Singh, said legally speaking, dentists are allowed to do orthodontic treatment.
He said the same issue arises in medicine.
“Would you prefer a medical doctor to do surgery on you or a surgeon?”
He said orthodontic treatment with brackets were not taught in dental school and had to be studied for three years after graduation and two years of practice.
Malaysian Association of Orthodontists president Dr Noraini Alwi said although dentists could claim they provide orthodontic treatment, “they were not properly trained” to do so.
She said short courses were conducted over weekends, promising to give dentists the training needed to carry out orthodontic services and be recognised as an orthodontist.
“How can a weekend course over 10 to 18 months equate with a full-time course of over three years?” she said.
Dr Noraini also said the current Malaysian Dental Act 1970 does not recognise any specialities in dentistry “as yet” and Malaysia was very far behind its neighbours and the rest of the world.