PETALING JAYA: An expert has warned dental practitioners against using products and equipment purchased online, saying such items bypass regulations made under the Medical Devices Act 2012 designed to ensure their quality and safety.
Dr P Mahendran told FMT these items, although cheap and readily available online, pose a danger to patients.
He said toxic elements contained in fillings, braces and dentures used in oral treatment are liable to be quickly absorbed by the body.
Mahendran, past president of the Malaysian Private Dental Practitioners’ Association, said some of the items purchased online were several times cheaper than those bought from registered distributors.
He said the association was even made aware of a private practitioner who made an online purchase of an entire dental chair from China, complete with all its associated parts.
Mahendran said the availability of such items at low prices also encouraged the emergence of fake dentists.
“These products come very cheap but there is no quality control. This is also in clear violation of the Medical Devices Act, which controls the type of materials used for dental fillings, implants and braces, among others,” he said.
In contrast, Mahendran said the registered distributors of all dental items in the country are subject to stringent checks by the health ministry and other authorities aimed at ensuring their quality.
“Dentists are resorting to purchasing medical devices and dental applications online in order to provide cheaper services and offer packages, gifts and discounts,” he said, adding that advertisements for such products on social media have gone out of control.
Mahendran also said the business of private practitioners is being threatened by a proliferation of unethical advertisements offering discounts, packages and freebies on social media.
Many private practitioners are now engaged in a price war in a bid to attract business, he said.
There is a dire need to tighten regulations controlling devices and parts to stop the profession “going down the drain”, said Mahendran.
He said the health ministry’s guideline on advertising under the Private Healthcare and Facilities and Services Act 2018 clearly prohibits such practices.
“It says that private practitioners should not entice prospective patients by offering packages, discounts or special promotions. However, scores of clinics are doing just that.”
Mahendran attributed the situation to an overproduction of dentists and a steep rise in the number of private clinics.
“All professionalism has been thrown out of the window by the professionals in private practice, and quality is suffering as a result,” he said.
Mahendran said the health ministry’s senior director of dental health, Dr Noormi Othman, had been working hard to resolve the problem in an attempt to restore decorum to the profession.
“However, violations continue because existing punishments are not enough of a deterrent. There is a need to make the laws tougher,” he said.