Beware the dubious dentist

Some beauty centres in Malaysia are offering illicit dentistry courses under the guise of beauty treatment, with many operating illegally after the course.


July 4, 2022

PETALING JAYA – Want to be a dentist, complete with the know-how and all the necessary equipment?

No problem. It takes just about five hours of training and you can install, remove, polish, clean and touch up the dental veneer, and give your patients new teeth.

Some beauty centres are offering illicit dentistry courses under the guise of beauty treatment.

Scores of would-be dentists are flocking there, with some “trainees” actually running their own “clinics”, providing a handful of dental services after acquiring the worthless “certificates”.

Take “Mimi” for instance. She had zero knowledge and was working as a beautician before she took the one-day “dentistry” course.

“Now, I make good money providing services to my customers and coaching others.

“The class is just a day. It is so easy that I mastered the procedures in those a few hours.

“After attending our class, you, too, can teach others,” she said.

In an investigation that took several months, The Star studied the demand and trends in the fast-growing but poorly regulated beauty industry that allowed just about anyone to openly offer these short dentistry courses.

It was found that there is an abundance of illegal dentists, now operating openly and putting thousands of their customers at great health risk.

The short courses, mostly just a few hours long, include the installation of braces, veneer and denture fittings and teeth-whitening procedures.

Ranging between RM1,500 and RM3,000, the one-day course even provides participants with a starter kit to help kick-start their own business, including mobile dental services.

Those who attended a veneer-fitting course were given, among others, a polishing gadget, veneer composite, LED light, bonding agent, etchant gel, mouth retractor and other instruments, some of which are only sanctioned for use by medical practitioners.

And the teachers are quite brazen about it.

“We will teach you how to install, remove, polish, clean and touch up the veneer, and give you new teeth.

“If you join my class, you will be able to provide neat, beautiful and long-lasting results for your customers,” said a poster shared by a beautician to The Star reporter.

The investigation also found Indonesians offering a five-day course on “behel” – an Indonesian word for braces – for as low as RM1,000.

When approached by the reporter via WhatsApp, the Indonesian businesswoman running the operation said she was looking for at least five students, preferably Indonesians, with a fixed monthly income so they would not renege on payment.

The course is scheduled to be held in August.

Locals, however, would not be turned away.

“The knowledge you gain is forever and you can turn this into a business of your own, just like me,” said the woman in her late 20s. She claims to have been trained at a renowned salon in Medan, Indonesia.

Besides the lessons, the woman said she would be able to supply all the equipment necessary for the reporter to start her own dentistry business.

“I can send the equipment from here (Indonesia) because if I were to bring it over myself, I might get into trouble at the airport,” she said.

In addition to promoting courses, many Indonesians living in Malaysia are also aggressively promoting dentistry services for cheap, especially on social media.

Those who undergo the courses even get a certification of participation signed off by either a “professional beautician” or issued by the beauty centre offering the course.

But it is not one to be shown off.

The Star reporter who posed as a keen learner wanting to set up her own clinic was warned by a business operator against publicly displaying the paper.

“We provide the certificate but you should not show it off. Customers don’t really ask about it (our qualification).

“It will be issued by our ‘leader’, who is an expert on teeth-related matters,” said one of the beauticians, who was careful enough not to reveal her leader’s identity.

The “leader” remains a secret but the courses are open to anyone as long as they are willing to pay.

And many do pay, given that there are many desperate Malaysians looking for cheap “cosmetic” dental procedures.

But it could be very dangerous, leading to deformities and painful corrective surgeries.

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