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Self-taught Malaysian ‘dentist’ fined for performing illegal dental procedures on customers in Singapore hotels

Self-taught Malaysian ‘dentist’ fined for performing illegal dental procedures on customers in Singapore hotels

SINGAPORE, April 9 — A woman who learnt how to perform dental procedures on herself during the Covid-19 pandemic began offering such services to customers in Singapore.

She would book hotel rooms in Singapore to perform procedures such as maintenance of braces and veneer application.

However, her ruse was up when a disgruntled customer reported to the authorities that she could not floss her teeth after having veneers put in by the so-called “dentist”.

Siti Shahrima Abd Rahim, a 37-year-old Malaysian, was fined S$2,500 (RM8,807) by a district court today.

She pleaded guilty to one count under the Dental Registration Act, with a second similar charge taken into consideration.

The court heard that Siti works as a part-time waitress at a hotel in Johor Baru.

How she became an amateur “dentist”

In 2020, Siti visited a dentist in Johor regularly as she was wearing braces to straighten her teeth.

However, when Malaysia imposed movement control orders to curb the spread of Covid-19, Siti was unable to go for her dental appointments.

She then learnt how to perform procedures on her own braces by watching videos on YouTube.

After this, Siti advertised dental services such as veneer whitening, tooth and braces whitening and providing retainers on her Carousell account, quoting prices like S$650 and S$700 for different services.

She would enter Singapore on short-term visit passes to provide these illegal dental services at hotels under the Hilton brand.

She would communicate with potential customers on Carousell or WhatsApp and inform them of the hotel locations a few days before the procedures, branding herself as a Malaysian dentist.

In total, she provided composite veneers to about 20 customers, performed braces maintenance on about 10 customers and provided cosmetic braces to at least one customer.

At all times, she was not registered as a dentist under Singapore’s Dental Registration Act and she did not have a valid practising certificate.

The victim

In early January 2022, a Filipino woman came across Siti’s advertisement on Carousell and contacted her for composite veneers.

She was quoted S$700 for the removal of her existing veneers and installation of new ones.

Siti told the woman that she was a dentist from Malaysia who entered Singapore to attend to patients and customers.

The woman agreed to the price and was told to go to the Conrad Centennial hotel on January 30, 2022, where an unknown man escorted her to a hotel room where Siti was waiting.

Siti told the woman to lie down on a sofa. She then placed a dental surgical drape on the woman, inserted a mouthpiece to keep the woman’s mouth open and used an instrument she purchased on Shopee to remove her old veneers.

The tool was similar to the kind used for removing a person’s manicure.

Siti then applied the new composite veneers on the customer’s teeth.

The following day, the woman realised that she could not floss her teeth, as there was little to no space between them after the veneers were applied.

She texted Siti, who claimed that she was under quarantine for Covid-19 and could not “do anything about it”.

The customer then sent an email to the Ministry of Health (MoH) about the incident.

A report prepared by an independent dental expert stated that Siti had used a non-professional instrument in her procedure, and that the procedure she had performed could have led to the patient requiring more complex procedures.

The MoH prosecutor sought a fine for Siti, saying her offence carried the potential for more serious injuries.

In mitigation, Siti said she wanted to go back to Malaysia as soon as possible to celebrate Hari Raya.

She asked if she could pay her fine in instalments, saying she had borrowed money to pay a fine but would like to return to Malaysia to get more money if needed.

In sentencing, the judge said the victim had suffered some harm as she was unable to floss her teeth.

Siti’s period of offending was also not short, spanning one-and-a-half years, and she had misrepresented herself as a dental practitioner, said the judge.

Siti paid the fine in full.