Rise of unethical at-home dental services in India


NEW DELHI, India: According to the online Indian newspaper ThePrint, the number of unethical at-home dental services is slowly increasing in India. Certain companies in the country offer services that include tooth whitening, tooth extraction, the fabrication of night guards and dentures, and orthodontic treatment at the patient’s home. Alarmingly, a significant part of these dental services are carried out by untrained and unregistered staff, thus violating existing laws and threatening patients’ oral and overall health.

Toothsi is a dental technology start-up that was launched in 2018 and has since merged with cosmetic solutions provider makeO. The company refers to itself as India’s first and largest at-home smile makeover service provider and says that it uses groundbreaking clear aligner technology to make tooth straightening simple and affordable. Some prominent celebrities in India are among toothsi’s brand ambassadors.

The Dental Council of India (DCI) has criticised the company and other similar dental service providers, stating that they are breaking multiple regulations established by the Dentists Act, 1948, and the Revised Dentists (Code of Ethics) Regulations, 2014. For example, DCI reported that it has come to the council’s attention that certain service providers employ untrained and unregistered personnel to perform dental services. Additionally, it noted that some companies are providing services such as intra-oral scanning and clear aligner treatment to patients at their homes. As these services are reportedly offered by individuals who are not registered dentists, such behaviour jeopardises professional standards and patient safety.

In light of the illegal dental activity, DCI has directed state councils to promptly issue orders to halt activities to companies and individuals violating the provisions of the Dentists Act, 1948, and to take appropriate legal action against dental service providers that breach these regulations.

“I have been hearing about companies like toothsi which, riding on mega advertising campaigns, trap gullible people and, in many cases, use salesmen to offer dental health services. This is totally unacceptable,” said Prof. Mahesh Verma, vice chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University in New Delhi and a former vice president of DCI, in a news article.

Although DCI has issued multiple public notices on the matter throughout the years as well as a directive to state dental councils just recently, there is currently no evidence that DCI or the state councils have taken any action against companies offering unethical dental treatment. These companies include the Mumbai-based Doctor 365 and Dr. Arry’s Mediclinic, which offers dental services in the National Capital Region and the city of Jaipur, according to ThePrint.

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