Dental Treatment for the Poor in Brunei and India

How Brunei and India deals with non-registered dental treatment:


Story from Brunei

Woman pleads guilty for selling, fitting fake braces

Darren Chin
Sunday, April 24, 2016

A WOMAN yesterday pleaded guilty to 22 counts of running unlicensed dental service from her house in Landless Indigenous Citizens Housing Scheme (STKRJ) Kg Tungku yesterday at the Magistrates’ Court.

Hayimmah Bahri, 29, was initially reported to the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) by Dr Melanie Chin, a member of the Brunei Medical Board, after a number of patients had visited government dental clinics to repair or seek treatment for braces fitted by an online seller on Facebook accounts named ‘Sop Chery Chery’ and ‘Braces Orthodontics Brunei’ which caused damage to the teeth and its supporting tissue.

RBPF then conducted investigations and surveillance of the suspected Facebook accounts which revealed the identity of the defendant who managed the Facebook accounts and her house address that the unlicensed dental services were operating from.

The defendant subsequently had her house raided by RBPF personnel on the morning of April 12, 2014 who seized a number of dentistry items including a dental chair, dental braces, cement and other orthodontic equipment.

During investigations, the defendant revealed that she had learnt how to fit braces in 2005 while in Madura, Indonesia.

Between late 2012 and April 2014, 22 patients were identified to have been given dental consultation and fitted braces by the defendant at her house after finding out about the unlicensed dental service via Facebook.

The defendant further revealed that customers were charged $150 to $450 for each braces fitted, depending on their teeth, and the defendant also charged $15 to $30 for monthly maintenance services of her customers.

She had bought nearly all the dental products and equipment from a Facebook online seller based in Jakarta while the dental chair was purchased through eBay.

During her mitigation, the defendant sought for a lenient sentence as she has two young children to take care of.

When asked by the presiding magistrate Azrimah Hj Abd Rahman why the defendant had chosen to commit the offence, the defendant replied that she was just looking to make extra income to support her family and that she had no intention to deceive anyone.

The presiding magistrate deferred the sentencing to May 2, 2016 and ordered the defendant to be remanded in Jerudong prison until then as deputy public prosecutor Dk Didi-Nuraza Pg Hj Abd Latiff objected to the release of the defendant on bail on the basis of the aggravating factors submitted in the case which warrants custodial sentence.

Practising dentistry without a licence or certification by fitting braces onto patients and giving consultation advice to patients is an offence under section 25(1) of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act, Chapter 112 which is punishable of up to five years’ imprisonment with a fine.

The Brunei Times


Story from India

BANGALORE: Ignoring noisy buses and curious onlookers, street dentist Allah Baksh plunges his hands into a patient’s mouth to fit a sparkling set of dentures for $12 in the Indian city of Bangalore.

With his plastic stool, mirror and glass cases of teeth on display, Baksh is among hundreds of such dentists frowned upon by their licenced counterparts in rapidly modernising India.

But the 54-year-old insists he is providing an essential service to tens of millions of poor who cannot afford a visit to a sterilised clinic.

“There are millions of poor people in this country who cannot pay for expensive dental treatment,” Baksh told AFP in between customers at his makeshift clinic where his tools include a large, metal file.

From dentists to shoe shiners, barbers and chefs, street services are an engrained part of life in India, particularly for the poor.

Baksh never formally trained as a dentist, instead learning his skills from his father, who came in 1984 to the southern, sleepy backwater now transformed into a regional IT hub and thriving metropolis.

Alongside his younger brother, son and nephew, Baksh set up their clinic 14 years ago outside a bus stand, where together they make and fit dentures for some 20 customers a day.

A full set of teeth, molded and ready to fit in 30 minutes, costs as little as Rs800, while a single false tooth sells for Rs50. Tools are thoroughly washed in soap and water — but not disinfected.

The teeth in all shapes and sizes are made in China and in India from dental cement. Soft pink adhesive is then moulded for gums and the teeth stuck in, with the dentists saying their handiwork lasts for at least four years.

India passed a law in 1948 allowing only licensed dentists to treat patients, but the legislation’s vague and outdated wording about exactly what constitutes a dentist has allowed many unregistered ones to operate.

In big cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, street dentist numbers have dwindled in recent years on growing awareness of contracting HIV/AIDS and other diseases, rising customer income levels, and a surge in dentist graduates.

But they still thrive in smaller cities as well as towns, although few perform root canals, fillings or other operations.

“There must be thousands of them,” Ashok Dhoble, secretary general of the Indian Dental Association, a private body of licensed dentists, told AFP.

“The oral healthcare (industry) is in its infancy and surprisingly we don’t have even figures on qualified dentists in India.”

Dhoble said 30,000 graduates join the profession every year, but India still has only one dentist per 10,000 people in urban areas and about 250,000 in rural areas, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

Dhoble branded unlicensed dentists quacks who were not worth the risk, despite a lack of ultra cheap services offered by licenced professionals for the poor.

“Ban them and they will be forced to look for another job. We can’t have cheap treatment as an excuse to continue this practise,” he said.

In Delhi’s crowded old quarter, third-generation dentist Satvinder Singh, 48, takes a lunch break from treating patients on the pavement.

Numerous posters advertising his services are propped up around him, as a multitude of vendors jostle for space.

Singh said his profession is slowly dying because of the growth of India’s formal dentist industry along with more hygiene-conscious customers.

“A few decades ago I used to get 30 customers a day. I hardly see two now,” said Singh.

“At my age I can’t change my profession. My sons are in a different business. I don’t want them here,” he told AFP.

Singh said a few decades ago, traders from a nearby spice market, Asia’s largest, would line up for his false silver and gold teeth, considered a status symbol.

“Earlier rich and poor would equally visit us but now we are looked down on,” he said.

For his part, Baksh remains adamant he is improving the lives of the poor, and that his family will continue the tradition.

“We have thousands of satisfied customers, who not only pay us but give us their blessings.”

Express Tribune Pakistan


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