THE Dental Council (DCTT) says it is aware that unlicensed people are practising dentistry but neither the council nor the Ministry of Health can do anything about it.
The DCTT said both locals and foreigners are carrying out general and specialist dental work in unconventional locations in TT and in alarming conditions.
Dr Rishad Seecheran said because of the archaic act governing the DCTT, “they (unlicensed dentists) are untouchable as neither the ministry nor the DCTT have the authority to discipline or regulate them. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh told Newsday he has no jurisdiction over dentists in the private sector.
“Our hands are tied,” DCTT president Dr Dharmendra Rohit admitted, saying he wants to appeal to citizens not to utilise services of these unlicensed dentists and put their health as risk. “You are at risk when you go to a non-registered dentist because we do not know, we cannot control or manage whatever practices they are doing and standard of care they are performing.
“We have no idea. The rule of law is if a patient has a problem with a non-registered dentist, that patient has to make a report to the police for an investigation to be done. Once a file has been created and it reaches the DPP, only then can the DCTT get involved and ask for permission to prosecute the case. Unlike a registered dentist, once there is a complaint of misconduct or anything the council can start acting on that complain immediately.”
The DCTT has taken out newspaper advertisements alerting the public about who is a registered dentist and what criteria they have to meet to legally perform any type of dental work. “As you seek dental care, it is your responsibility to ensure that your provider is legal. Take action to protect yourself, be informed.”
Rohit said they have been lobbying for amendments to the Dental Act and the process has now reached the office of the Attorney General. He said once amendments are made, they will be able to treat with this issue but until then, the onus is on the public to be vigilant.
Seecheran said he is concerned that Venezuelans are popping up all over the place doing dentistry, putting the public at major risk of contracting blood infections including HIV. “As dentists, we deal with blood and saliva which could pass from one patient to another if instruments are not properly sterilised.
“We don’t know if the foreigners have the proper equipment to sterilise surgical instruments. We don’t know the type of material they are using in people’s mouth, where they are getting their supplies from. We do not know if they are registered in Venezuela. We do not know if they have any malpractice cases pending in Venezuela. We do not know if the migrant dentists have lost their licences back in their homeland,” Seecheran said.