Beware! The dentist behind the mask could be a quack


Visiting a dentist to fill or extract a tooth, or for a cleanup is a frightening experience for many, especially the surgical chair, staring into the glare of a bright beam of light, the surgical equipment and of course the masked man/woman.

Pix by Susantha Liyanawatte

Pix by Susantha Liyanawatte

But, a mushrooming number of dental quacks is sure to turn the fearful experience into a nightmare.
Recently, the Pugoda Additional Magistrate G.L. Priyantha fined a husband and wife Rs. 80,000 (Rs. 40,000 each) for possessing medical equipment and drugs used by dental surgeons.A written complaint to the Gampaha Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) by an anonymous patient who had suffered complications following a nerve filling, led to legal action. Later, the patient on consulting a government dental surgeon, discovered that his filling had been on an unaffected tooth.

According to Gampaha Regional Dental Surgeon Dr Gamini Wimalasena, once the complaint was received, a team comprising himself, the Dompe Medical Officer of Health, a police officer from Dompe and a Food and Drugs inspector raided the suspect dental clinic.

“This dental clinic was inside a house near Dekatana junction. At the time of the raid, the suspect dentist was not at home and no consultations were in progress. But we were able to seize medicinal drugs and equipment.

The suspect’s wife produced a dental technician’s certificate issued by Peradeniya University,” Dr. Gamini Wimalasena said.

Dr. Wimalasena said that, if the bogus dentist had been practising at the time of the raid, a case could have been filed under the Medical Ordinance. This case was filed under the Cosmetics Devices and Drugs Act.According to Gampaha Food and Drug Inspector A.J.M. Niyaz, among the seized equipment were a surgical chair, medicines and antibiotics and surgical equipment.

Sri Lanka Dental Association President Dr. Suresh Shanmuganathan said that most people are unaware that a complication from a dental procedure can even lead to death.

“Prior to any dental treatment, the dentist should check the patients’ health condition and be extremely cautious if the patient suffers from diabetes, allergies and heart ailments. Qualified dental surgeons’ posses the knowledge to deal with instances of anaphylactic shock or heavy bleeding,” he said.

According to Dr. Shanmuganathan, most people don’t know the difference between a dental surgeon and a dental technician.
“Those who have a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and a Licentiate in Dental Surgery (LDS), are qualified and authorised to perform such dental-related treatments. Dental technicians are those who follow doctor’s prescriptions. Their work mostly involves inside a laboratory fixing dentures and plates.

Dr. Gamini Wimalasena

A.J.M. Niyaz

Dental technicians do not have any contact with patients, and their qualification does not involve patient care,” he said.

He said technicians do not have the authority to prescribe medicines nor issue medicinal drugs. Dr. Shanmuganathan said that provincial directors are empowered to take action and act on complaints.

“It is important to check whether these practitioners posses the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) registration.

This should be done by Health authorities and the public should be concerned whether their dentist is qualified or not,” he said.

According to the Health ministry, there are about 40,000 quacks in the country, which includes bogus dental surgeons.

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