PETALING JAYA: One-day dental courses allowing so-called students to dabble with people’s teeth are obviously unacceptable but blurred legal lines and the strenuous burden of proof required to prosecute these cases are letting unscrupulous beauticians get away with it.
The number of fake dentists is increasing because of these illegal courses, posing a serious health threat to the public. But trainers often ensure that their “students” tell enforcement officers that they learnt their dentistry on YouTube, leaving the officers helpless.
The Health Ministry’s Oral Health principal director Dr Noormi Othman told The Star that nobody is actually governing or monitoring players in the beauty industry to ensure that they do not go beyond permissible limits.
Courses conducted for dental practitioners are evaluated by the Malaysians Dental Council (MDC), with continuous professional development points (CPD) being awarded to dentists attending such courses. CPD is needed for dentists to renew their annual practising certificates.
On the other hand, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), which accredits academic programmes, is the agency responsible for the quality assurance and accreditation of national higher education programmes in the public and private sectors, she said.
“The MQA and MDC do not regulate training organised by other providers, hence creating a loophole in the approval and monitoring of these training (as provided by the beauty centres).
“This issue (beauty centres providing dentistry courses) is rampant because no one is governing the beauty industry,” she said, urging the public to refrain from participating in such courses and getting dental treatment in salons.
Dr Noormi said the enforcement against illegal dental practices is being conducted under two pieces of legislations. The Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act states that under Section 4 (1), no one shall establish, maintain, operate or provide a dental clinic, unless this is registered with the Health Ministry.
“On the other hand, the Dental Act 2018 states that in order to prove that a person is practising dentistry, he must perform any of the procedures mentioned in Section 62 (2) of the said Act.
“A person who is not registered under the Act shall not practise dentistry and if he conducts such procedures, then he commits an offence under the Act,” she said, adding that the deputy public prosecutor will have to ensure that all the elements of the offence are proven.
Dr Noormi said locals arrested for the offence insisted that they had learnt the techniques on YouTube while many foreigners, including Indonesians, China nationals, Thais, Myanmar nationals and even those from Saudi Arabia, claimed to have picked up the trade from the various organisations in their home countries.
“Anyone wanting to provide dental services must be qualified and registered with the MDC, including foreigners who need to get the Temporary practising certificate,” she said.