Temporary crowns can be purchased for as low as S$10 on the Internet. (Photo: Vimita Mohandas)
SINGAPORE: The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is investigating the sale of dental kits online, amid the rise in availability of such do-it-yourself kits on the Internet.
These dental kits, intended as temporary remedies for lost fillings, caps and crowns, are widely available online. For example, temporary tooth fillings for a cavity can be purchased for as little as S$10.
There are also numerous YouTube videos on how to mix the materials and insert the filling.
The health authority cautioned that inappropriate use could result in infections, injury or damage to one's teeth.
“Equipment for dental treatment and extraction, glues for crowning and fillers and all other devices that are used for diagnosis or treatment of dental conditions are regulated as medical devices. Such devices are intended to be used by dentists with appropriate training, and should not be supplied to lay users,” HSA told Channel NewsAsia.
To date, there are no DIY dental kits registered with the HSA, the authority said, adding that it is investigating the sale of such kits online.
Dental practitioners welcomed the move, noting that the DIY kits could permanently damage gums, cause dental decay and even lead to the loss of teeth.
“When the dentist does a filling, they uncover the inner portions of the tooth where it's softened by the acid attack and we need to clean out the bacteria deep inside the recesses of the tooth using special equipment. The main thing that makes a filling successful is a proper seal, so that bacteria doesn't go back into that area to reinfect it,” said Ms Priscilla Lu, an orthodontist at the National Dental Centre Singapore.
She added that dentists generally use three main materials for fillings, resin composite, glass ionomer cement and amalgam, which provide a good seal and enable the area to be completely cut off from bacteria.
“This is not really possible with a DIY kit. Firstly, you don’t have the equipment to remove the bacteria. Secondly, the material may not be strong enough to remove the biting forces and it may end up being leaky at the margins,” she said.
Orthodontists suggested that some people may opt for these DIY dental kits because of their affordability.
For example, a visit to the dentist clinic for crowning can range between S$650 and S$2,000, compared with getting an online set for S$10.
Convenience may be another factor: Delivery of dental kits typically take less than a week.
However, Dr Hwang Jun Hyuk at Q&M Dental Group warned that the average person would not have the expertise needed to perform dental work.
“You wouldn't know which crown is for your front, centre or side tooth, or a canine. These things that you buy online are questionable whether they are safe for human use,” he said.
“If you were to put it inside your mouth, the little plastic piece wouldn't be able to fit in nicely. The plastic crown may also hit against your gums and it will cause damage, leading to gum and bone loss and in more severe cases, tooth loss,” he added.
Medical devices in Singapore are regulated by HSA under the Health Products Act, and all moderate- to high-risk medical devices to be supplied in Singapore are required to be registered with HSA prior to supply.
Importers and wholesalers of dental medical devices are also required to obtain licences from HSA.
Under the Health Products Act, those who fail to comply with requirements for importing and supplying medical devices may be fined up to S$50,000 or jailed a maximum of two years, or both.