If you are seeing a dentist, you should always make sure that he or she is registered. This might not seem important or even relevant to Joondalup, but a recent news item from the northern suburbs of Melbourne has forced the Victoria public health authorities to put out a warning about an unregistered dentist who is operating illegally there.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has taken action against that dentist. We won’t name him here, but the man learned dentistry in Turkey and moved to Victoria. He was not registered to practise there. He set up an operation anyway, in a Meadow Heights neighbourhood called Rockland Rise.
The AHPRA was notified and sent the police to his home, where they executed a warrant and seized a full complement of dental equipment. They charged him under National Law Part 7 and are prosecuting him in Magistrates’ Court. The charges are pretending to be a dentist, using a protected title, performing “restricted dental acts” which only registered dentists are allowed to perform and also for possession of schedule 4 drugs.
He won’t face any discipline from the Dental Board of Australia, though, because he is not registered and has never taken part in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
According to Martin Fletcher, CEO of AHPRA, the AHPRA has done their job of protecting patient safety and mitigating risks to the public. Mr Fletcher feels that stopping the man from performing any more work is the best the AHPRA could do to remove the threat to public safety.
The concerns are valid, especially about infections. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is calling on all of this “doctor’s” patients to step forward because improper hygiene in the form of “poor infection control practices” may have caused them to be exposed to a blood borne infection.
Dr Finn Romanes, who is Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer, is calling upon anyone who was treated by an unregistered dentist to find a registered dentist immediately and have a checkup to determine if any harm was done or to identify any issues the unqualified dentist may have missed.
What it Means to You in Joondalup
Usually, any dentist with a fixed office in Joondalup is going to be legitimate. But we think it is important to make sure that your dentist is licensed to perform dentistry in Australia. We also recommend that you find a dentist who is a member of the Australian Dental Association. As we do, most dentists are proud to display their licences in their offices, in easy view for patients.
Why it’s Important
In Australia, the standard for dentists is high. If a person isn’t registered, it usually means they didn’t take the time to fulfil the stringent requirements of our governing bodies. This means that, as a patient, you are at risk if you go to an unregistered dentist.
The first risk is that the dentist could be incompetent. This sometimes happens when people go to other countries to “save money on dental work.” A less than competent dentist can end up costing you thousands of dollars more than the original procedure would have because it can take a lot of dental surgery to repair.
An incompetent dentist can cost you a lot of time and money. They can also cause a lot of pain and suffering if they don’t perform procedures properly.
The second risk is that unregistered dentists may not be adhering to sanitary procedures. Dental work has to be 100% sanitary. There can be no slip-ups. Whenever your body is opened up, whether it is a simple abrasion or a tooth extraction, it is vulnerable to attack from microorganisms. A properly sanitised dental office with properly sterilised dental equipment protects the patient from those microorganisms.
Another risk is bloodborne pathogens such as Hepatitis C or HIV. If you visit an unregistered dentist with a home “office,” you are taking a huge risk that sanitation and sterilisation are not being executed properly. You may save money, but is it worth the risk of contracting a bloodborne illness?
We celebrated Dental Health Week on 3-9 August, but we want to continue its goal to promote dental health awareness. To learn more or to set up an appointment, call us today:(08) 9404 9500