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Illegal Practice Q&A

What is an illegal practitioner?

An illegal practitioner is someone who practises dentistry without being registered as a dentist by CDSBC. Only CDSBC-registered dentists can practise dentistry in B.C. because there is no guarantee that those who are not registered can safely and competently provide treatment.

What authority does CDSBC have when it comes to illegal practitioners?

Under the Health Professions Act (HPA), CDSBC’s core function is the protection of the public. An essential component of that function is ensuring that those who are not appropriately educated, licensed, and accountable do not practise dentistry.

What legal action can CDSBC take against illegal practitioners?

CDSBC investigates complaints about illegal practitioners and, where appropriate, takes legal action against them. We are committed to taking all available steps to protect the public from illegal practitioners. When CDSBC is informed of an illegal practitioner, it is compelled by its public protection mandate under the HPA to take action.

The HPA enables CDSBC to apply to the BC Supreme Court for a search and seizure order of premises where the unauthorized practice of dentistry may be occurring. CDSBC may also apply to Court for an injunction prohibiting someone from engaging in the unauthorized practise of dentistry.

If a person violates an injunction, they may be found in contempt of court. This can result in an order for imprisonment and payment of costs

In addition to any remedies CDSBC may obtain, a person who performs restricted services and who is not a registrant of CDSBC commits a quasi-criminal offense and may face prosecution.

What risks are associated with illegal practitioners?

Those who engage in the unauthorized practise of dentistry do their patients a grave disservice by exposing them to serious health risks. Some of the risks associated with unauthorized practitioners (based on CDSBC’s experience) are:

  • Competence: While illegal practitioners generally have some dental training, there is no evidence that they have been trained to the standard required to safely practise in British Columbia. Treatment that is poorly done can require extensive remediation and may cause permanent damage.
  • Materials: Many illegal practitioners use “black market” or counterfeit dental supplies and equipment. Such materials are not approved by Health Canada, and there is no way to know if they are safe for use.
  • Infection control: Appropriate infection control measures are often not in place. Unsterilized or inadequately sterilized equipment creates a risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens, bacteria and viruses.
  • Emergency response: Often there is no emergency response plan if problems occur during treatment. There may also be a reluctance to immediately seek appropriate medical treatment for a patient because of the unlawful nature of an unauthorized dental practice.
  • Insurance: There is no insurance available for illegal practitioners. Dentistry is highly technical and there is a risk of significant patient harm if done incompetently.

These are only some of the risks of being treated by an illegal practitioner.

Why should I see a registered dentist?

Registered dentists have been trained and are subject to standards concerning infection control, recordkeeping, and emergency response. All registered dentists are required to carry a minimum of $3 million of liability insurance. Exposing patients to these and other risks (while minimizing their own costs) is why illegal practitioners in some cases charge less than registered dentists. However, receiving inadequate or unsafe treatment is no bargain.

How can I protect myself?

Ensure that your dentist is registered with CDSBC by looking them up in our online Registrant Lookup, and to report to CDSBC if they are not by calling 604-736-3621.