Only “dentist” in Liechtenstein receives permission to continue practising
VADUZ, Liechtenstein: Owing to a special regulation, a “dentist” in Liechtenstein has been permitted to keep practising until he retires. The man, who has not undergone any academic training, was facing an employment ban after the government had passed an amended health law that prohibits this kind of practitioner from performing any form of dental treatment.
While the term “dentist” is usually associated with a health care practitioner who has graduated from university, in some countries, such as Germany and Austria, it also describes an outdated profession. Unlike a “Zahnarzt” (English: dentist), a “Dentist” (no English equivalent) was usually a dental technician who obtained further education from a dentist school and was then allowed to treat patients.
In Germany, such “dentists” were not allowed to practise from 1952. Instead, they were required to obtain further education to receive a licence to practise as ordinary dentists. In Austria, training for dentists with a technician background was abolished in 1975; however, those who had been trained before that time were still allowed to practise. In 2011, the Austrian Dental Chamber recorded 48 “Dentisten”.
In autumn 2012, the government of Lichtenstein had to amend the health law owing to infringement proceedings initiated by the EFTA Surveillance Authority, as reported by the newspaper Liechtensteiner Vaterland. Consequently, dentists without an academic background—one person—would not be allowed to practise in the country from 1 March 2013.
However, the state constitutional court declared the law unconstitutional, abolished it and required a transitional provision. Thus, the only “dentist” in the country, which has approximately 37,000 inhabitants, will be allowed to practise until he retires. Generally, practising dentistry without the requisite academic qualifications will be strictly prohibited.