Malaysians drill for answers over bogus dental practitioners

PETALING JAYA: The Star’s expose of the express method of becoming a “dentist” has attracted the attention of the public, many of whom have posed questions on the matter.

Below are some of the questions.

Q: Where did the fake dentists acquire their skills?

Most of those arrested claimed that they acquired their skills from YouTube. However, The Star’s investigation found that many short dentistry courses are organised by beauticians and beauty centres.

The short courses, mostly just a few hours long, include the installation of braces, veneer and denture fittings and teeth-whitening procedures. One trainer, Hayati, claimed she learnt her skills in Thailand.

There are also Indonesians who provide such short courses.

Q: How were the conditions at the “training centre”?

The veneer course the reporter attended was conducted at a tiny salon on the ground floor of a down-in-the-dumps low-cost flat in Setapak. The procedure was conducted on a blood-stained massage bed hidden behind a three-level cupboard.

The toilet and the sewage pipe were close by, emitting a stink. The patient had to spit into a sink set a distance away, leaving spittle all over the floor. There was dust and other foreign materials on the composite that was later moulded onto the patient’s teeth.

Q: Who are their students? And what are the authorities doing?

Mostly beauticians. The Health Ministry’s Oral Health principal director Dr Noormi Othman said nobody is governing or monitoring players in the beauty industry to ensure they do not go beyond permissible limits.

The ministry is doing a campaign to educate the public on fake dentists. As of now, enforcement is being conducted based on complaints or information received.

Those with information on fake dentists can contact 03-8883 4215 or email ohd@moh.gov.my.

Q: How do fake dentists convince their customers?

Reassuring clients is part of the “game”.

Hayati has template messages that she provides to her students to be shared with possible clients. These messages forewarn customers about the discomfort they might experience after fixing the veneers.

She said the customers should be reassured that the pain would be gone in two to three days.

In the event the client wanted the veneer removed – which is common – the charge would be RM50 per tooth.

Hayati said students should lay the veneer composite one by one and get the customers’ okay before proceeding to harden the resin.

Q: Don’t they know what they are doing is wrong? Don’t they feel guilty?

Hayati knows it’s wrong, which is why the massage bed is placed in a hidden area.

Hayati, who also provides whitening drip services and courses, has told her students that such services should be conducted in a private room.

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