Issue of access to dental care is important

Like any columnist, Mr. Sandy Macdougall has an obligation to get his facts right.

Editor, The News:

Re: Hooped without a good dental plan (Sidewinder, Aug. 23).

Like any columnist, Mr. Sandy Macdougall has an obligation to get his facts right.

In justifying illegal dentistry by unqualified and unsafe practitioners, he has undermined the more important public policy debate around access to dental care and funding for oral health.

The fact that Tung Sheng Wu operated out of his home was not the problem.

Real dentists who work out of their homes must meet the high standards of competent care expected of every dentist registered with the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C.

Their facilities must meet infection control standards established by CDSBC, as well as building code and other safety standards and regulations. Mr. Wu did none of these things.

He risked his clients’ health for his own gain.

We do not deny that illegal dental practices may exist, and the Tung Sheng Wu case may spark similar reports.

However, we have no evidence that they are widespread.

Anyone can confirm that their dentist is registered by going to the Directory of Dentists at www.cdsbc.org.

If the person they are seeing for dental care is not registered or licensed, they should contact CDSBC.

We cannot assume that the cost of dentistry is the sole reason Mr. Wu’s clientele chose to go to him. Evidence indicates that many of his patients were affluent and could well afford to go to a registered dentist. Others may have come from jurisdictions where dentistry is not regulated and may not have known he was operating illegally.

The facts are that the overwhelming majority of dentists are highly competent, ethical, caring professionals, many of whom make special payment arrangements for patients in financial need. Many dentists donate their time at free or reduced-cost dental clinics around the province (for a listing, go to www.bcdental.org).

The issue of access to dental care is an important one. It requires a thoughtful and informed conversation.

Mr. Macdougall’s column falls far short of the mark.

Jerome Marburg,

registrar and CEO

CDSBC

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