PETALING JAYA: With financial constraints and rising prices due to the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, many Malaysians, especially those in the B40 group, are forced to skip some essential services, including dental health, in due to the high cost of treatment.
Although they can go to a government clinic, the long waiting period and the need to make an appointment in advance are deterrents.
Private dental clinic fees also vary and generally exceed what the public can afford.
A survey conducted by the sun found that some private dental clinics charge up to RM1,000 for an extraction.
A root canal procedure can reach RM3,500, while the cost of a full set of dentures is around RM2,400.
However, on March 24, 2006, a dental fee structure signed by former Minister of Health Tan Sri Dr Chua Soi Lek under the Private Health Facilities and Services Act 1998 recommended that the costs of partial dentures in acrylic are between RM100 and RM1,000 while the costs for dentures should be between RM250 and RM2,000.
Under the same law, the fee for non-surgical or simple extraction should be RM40-250, but deciduous treatment should be less than RM100.
Dental charges for amalgam restoration (filling) range between RM40 to RM300 while adhesive restoration (root canal) ranges between RM45 to RM600.
Although the cost of living has increased since 2006, the fee structure charged by most dentists is against the law and can border on profit.
However, some dental clinics continue to consider a person’s financial situation when charging for routine procedures.
Dental specialist, Dr Kasmah Mohamad, who runs a clinic at Puncak Alam in Shah Alam, said those who neglect their dental health are most likely to face more dental problems in the future, which will force them to spend more money on treatment.
“Of course, dental costs have increased. But if you don’t come for a regular checkup, you will have to spend more money on treatments due to the extra damage caused by negligence. So it is better to have your teeth checked and any problems solved at an early stage.
“I charge RM800 for a root canal job, but if it’s a two or three tooth procedure it will cost up to RM1000 in total. However, patients do not need to pay all at once as they can pay RM200 at each visit.
“My clinic charges RM1,600 for a full set of dentures. Patients can also pay half on the first visit and the rest when the prostheses are ready. Some clinics charge RM250 and above for extraction, but in my clinic the extraction and filling fee ranges from RM80 to RM180,” she said.
Kasmah, who is aware of expensive dental treatments at some private clinics, said the upsurge was due to many factors.
“I’m sure the dental clinic rates in Kuala Lumpur are higher because the rents there are much higher. Clinics must also pay for their assigned parking lots and competitive salaries for nurses.
“People don’t prefer government dental clinics because in my day we had to do so many extractions before we qualified. But these days, students only do three extractions to qualify,” she said.
The President of the Malaysian Dental Association, Dr Lim Chiew Wooi, has urged patients to seek clarification from their dentist about their condition, treatment plans and estimated cost.
“The complexity of a disease, the degree of difficulty in treating it, the clinic’s facilities, and the experience and expertise of a dentist are among the important factors that determine fees.
“Patients should get clarification from the dentist about treatment, alternative treatment plans and estimated cost before starting any dental work,” he said.