New law stirs fear, distrust about dental clinics

opinion May 15, 2017 01:00

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Re: A network of dentists gathering near the Government House last Tuesday to demand the removal of dental X-ray scanners from a list of equipment under stricter control of the new Radiation and Nuclear Regulation Act 2016.

The new regulation that refers to dental X-ray scanners seems to make them ‘harmful’ or equivalent to nuclear plants and nuclear waste because violators could face up to five years in jail plus a fine of Bt500,000 if there is no operator of a dental X-ray scanner.

What next: will dentists be nuclear criminals?

This comes despite the fact that dentists are classed as radiation safety officers (RSO) who practice using dental X-ray scanners during six years studying dentistry curriculum, so they can use such equipment by themselves after they register with the Department of Medical Sciences (DMSc). 

So, why must dentists register for a RSO licence with the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) 

instead if they want to use X-ray scanners?

Dental X-ray scanners are 

currently being inspected and 

registered by the DMSc in line with the Public Health Ministry and international standards. So, why must dental X-ray scanners be registered with the OAP?

Internationally, there has been no indication from academics that patients are affected or harmed by  radiation from dental X-ray 

scanners. In Thailand, this 

equipment has been used for 

dental diagnosis for more than four decades.

Importantly, the radiation dose of a dental X-ray scanner is very little, about 0.01 mSv (milli-Sievert) which is the lowest radiation dose compared to any medical X-ray scanner and less than the 10mSv radiation dose of of a body CT (Computerised Tomography) scanner, by around  1,000 times.

Actually, dental diagnosis by using an X-ray scanner needs to take patients’ safety into account first. But is it necessary to have an overlapping process to take care of safety that already exists?

The OAP should take the new regulation to seriously control and oversee security, especially when radiation and nuclear emissions are really harmful to the public.

But between the DMSc and 

the OAP, which agency should oversee dentists and dental X-ray scanners in dental clinics for patients’ safety?

The new regulation is controversial and stirs fear and distrust despite the fact that use of such equipment is already safe.

It is worrying. Given this, how can Thailand be the hub of dental treatment in Asean?

Sutipunt Bongsununt