Teething problems: Rise in DIY dentistry complaints

Do-it-yourself dentistry is on the rise, and so are the complaints from dissatisfied people who bought braces, veneers, and tooth-whitening kits online.

Do-it-yourself dentistry is on the rise, and so are the complaints from dissatisfied people who bought tooth-whitening kits online.

The Dental Complaints Resolution Service is worried about the growing trend of DIY dentistry that started to emerge last year.

The DCRS is a voluntary service that offers an independent and free mediator service to patients who have complaints about their dentists.

The service’s facilitator, Michael Kilcoyne, said he received around 10 complaints last year from people who bought dental kits online and the number was increasing.

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Mr Kilcoyne said he could not deal with the complaints because the people supplying the products were not registered dentists.

“The complaints come to me because people would have googled ‘dental complaints’ and the DCRS would have popped up,” he said.

The complaints were mostly about braces and whitening toolkits. There was one complaint about dental veneers.

“I have to tell those consumers I can’t do anything for you. The service can only deal with complaints where there is a registered dentist involved who is practising in the Republic.”

Speaking at the launch of the DCRS’s fifth annual report, Mr Kilcoyne said he did pursue a Dublin company that supplied a dental kit to a consumer in Britain to see how he would get on.

The company was not very co-operative and made all sorts of excuses before eventually giving back around £900 to the customer.

The Dental Council issued guidelines earlier this year on orthodontic devices provided directly to the public.

“Purchasing an appliance without an appropriate examination or ongoing dental support could compromise your treatment, and possibly your dental health,” it warned.

Mr Kilcoyne said he also received “a sizeable” number of complaints from people who had work done abroad and it failed. He could do little about them because the dentists were not regulated by the Dental Council.

“I have written to a few of them to try and find out what sort of response I would get and, by and large, I did not get a response,” he said.

The DCRS dealt with 102 complaints last year — 32 less than those resolved in 2015. “In 2014 we handled 158 complaints and in 2015 that dropped to 134. The drop to 102 last year is welcome and may well reflect a trend towards greater engagement between dentists and patients,” said Mr Kilcoyne.

The main areas of contention were fees, clinical issues, and communication failures.

The DCRS is supported by the Irish Dental Association but operates independently of it.

Irish Dental Association chief executive Fintan Hourihan said it was interesting that almost a third of complaints (31%) made last year were against dentists who were not IDA members.

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