Quacks playing with dental health of patients

Dr. Gautam Sharma
Amidst the increasing number of mismanaged dental procedures and complications occurring during the treatment done by dental quacks, it is imperative for the general public to keep away from quacks and visit qualified dentists for any dental problems.
Quack is an untrained person who pretends to be a doctor and dispenses medical and dental advice along with treatment for which he is not authorised.
Public in general is not aware of the fact that how to differentiate that a clinic is being run by a doctor or by a quack when visiting a private clinic for their dental treatment. It can easily be judged by looking at the three certificates displayed in the waiting area or at a prominent place in the clinic. These three certificates are
Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) or Masters of Dental Surgery (MDS) certificate. This certificate is issued to the doctors after successfully completing their degree from a university. Any dentist you visit for the dental treatment must have either BDS or MDS university certificate otherwise he/she is not a qualified dentist and is not permitted to administer specialized treatment on the patient.
Certificate of registration of Dentist by State Dental Council or Dental Council of India. This registration certificate is of utmost importance as it certifies whether a dentist is registered by dental council to treat patients or not.
Clinic registration certificate. This certificate is issued by the state dental council after inspecting that a dental clinic is equipped with all the material, instrument and equipment to treat a patient. For example autoclave is an important equipment required to sterilize the instrument and prevention of cross infections from one patient to another. Without autoclaved instruments fatal infections like HIV, hepatitis B etcetera, from blood or saliva of a patient can transmit to other patients.
To save a little amount of money, patients visit a quack as their prices are lower than a qualified dentist. But the consequence of visiting a quack for treatment can be dangerous and life-threatening. These quacks never ask medical history of a patient like diabetes, hypertension, bleeding disorders and drug history like anticoagulant therapy or thyroid drugs and so on and so forth. This can have serious repercussions like massive bleeding during tooth extraction, severe reaction with local anaesthesia and life threatening conditions like thyroid storm in hyperthyroid patients due to injection of local anaesthesia with adrenaline. Although these complications can even occur while a patient is treated by a qualified dentist but he has been taught the management of these complications while quacks fail to manage such situations.
The roadside quacks in the Gumat and rural areas of Jammu have no scientific knowledge and formal education of the dentistry but they are doing every procedure from extraction to fixing of new dentures. They don’t have autoclavesfor sterilization of instruments and uses the same instrument repeatedly on various patients without following the disinfection protocol. The ill-fitting dentures delivered by a quack to a patient can cause oral cancer as it becomes constant source of trauma and irritation in the oral cavity. They generally use self-cure resin to fix the dentures to the oral cavity and the monomer, which is a part of this resin, may exert a direct cytotoxic effect on the cells in the superficial skin or mucosaand causes necrosis which may further lead the lesion to develop into oral cancer.
Major reasons why quackery is thriving are illiteracy, lack of awareness, poor accessibility to dental clinics and guarantee of painless and immediate treatment. Mostly illiterate people go blindly for treatment with immense faith and also recommend their family members and friends to visit quacks for their dental treatment. These quacks learn some dental work while working as an assistant in dental clinics. They are able to acquire a meagre knowledge by just simple observation of the dental operating procedures with no scientific knowledge while some quacks have familial business of street dentistry and they learn the unscientific and unethical methods of treatment from their forefathers.
The condition in the rural areas and peripheral area of cities is worst where there is no availability of doctors. People cannot travel to cities for their dental treatment and secondly they do not have money to pay for the dental procedures. In certain far-flung and difficult areas the state government has posted a dental surgeon but without chair or non-working chair. Sometimes it takes months together to get a dental chair repaired after the complaint by a dental surgeon. Many doctors complain of unavailability of essential dental material required for the basic treatment in government hospitals. These circumstances force the general public to visit quacks where treatment is done in no time. So the State Government has to provide adequate work force of dental surgeons with equipment and material to put a stop on quackery.
In India, under Chapter V, Section 49 of the Dentist Act of 1948 requires dentists, dental mechanics, and dental hygienists to be licensed. These dental quacks on the streets can be penalized under The Dentist Act
leading to imprisonment & penalty but strict laws need to be reinforced and implemented.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the state administration along with the state dental council are trying their best and have sealed some illegal establishments run by quacks but general public by large should be aware of certain things before undergoing their dental treatment. A patient should only visit a qualified dentist having the three certificates mentioned above and should not hesitate in asking for these certificates from a doctor, if not displayed in the waiting area, as treatment from an unqualified person can lead to long term complications and sometimes life threatening and fatal outcome.
(The author is President-elect of Indian Dental Association, Jammu)