Fans of TV's Still Game will be familiar with Methadone Mick and his dentures – the hapless recovering drug addict received a comically oversized set in advance of a job interview. However, John Nicol, the man who made the famous dentures, has been convicted of practising as an unregistered dentist following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
Mr Nicol had been registered with the General Dental Council ("GDC") until 2011, but decided not to renew his membership. Nevertheless, he continued working and designing dentures.
Section 38 of the Dentists Act 1984 makes it an offence for a person who is not a registered dentist or a registered dental care professional to practise or hold himself out, whether directly or by implication, as practising or as being prepared to practise dentistry. Within the 1984 Act, the definition of dentistry includes giving any treatment, advice or attendance in preparation or for the purposes of fitting, insertion or fixing of dentures.
In March 2015, a private investigator arranged for Lyndsay Grant to visit his premises Speedy Dental Repairs, Dumbarton Road, Partick, Glasgow – known locally as Glamorous Geggies – with her mother who had a problem with her dentures. During her evidence, Mrs Grant told the court that she was tasked with investigating whether dental work was taking place on the premises and "if there was any fingers being inserted in to the mouth - wet work”. Mrs Grant also told the court that Mr Nicol offered her mother two options – making a new plate or amending her current one. Mr Nicol "was keen to, in his words ‘impression her up’.” However, before any "wet work" could take place, the women left. It was also Mrs Grant's evidence that she could “see through the back that there was moulds and various bits of equipment there.”
Mr Nicol's solicitor argued that there was an "absence of vital evidence" and that the Crown hadn't successfully proved that Mr Nicol was carrying out work which amounted to being a dentist. However, Mr Nicol was convicted of breaching the Dentist Act 1984 by holding himself out to be a dentist whilst not registered with the GDC. He was fined £1,800.
Although this verdict may not surprise many, it does underscore the importance of maintaining GDC registration. Similarly, for practitioners whose registrations have lapsed (e.g. due to retirement or a change in profession), it is critical that those individuals do not do anything which could be construed as practising dentistry, or holding oneself out as practising dentistry, lest they expose themselves to a risk of prosecution. Moreover, convictions of this nature will almost certainly preclude re-registration with the GDC.