Ethical Dilemmas in Dental Care: The John Sun Incident

Today, we dive into a rather unsettling story from Singapore’s dental sector, one that might make us rethink our approach to choosing healthcare professionals.

Recently, a well-known dentist in Singapore, John Sun, faced a significant legal setback for committing healthcare fraud. His case is not just a solitary incident but a glaring example of why ethics in healthcare, especially among dentists and orthodontists in Singapore, are non-negotiable. Let’s unpack this story together and understand its implications for us as consumers.


Singaporean dentist John Sun, formerly known as Sng Wee Hock, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison for making false MediSave claims and committing forgery. Convicted of 14 counts, Sun fraudulently claimed S$11,750 (US$8,660) from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board for surgical procedures he never performed. Additionally, he submitted seven forged X-ray photos to the Ministry of Health (MOH) during an audit.

These offences occurred in 2014 when he was the director and practising dentist at WH Dental & Associates clinics. Sun falsely claimed for two specific procedures, foreign body removal (FBR) and autogenous bone graft (ABG), which the patients did not undergo. The Singapore Dental Council is set to refer Sun to the disciplinary committee following his conviction. This is not Sun’s first misconduct; he was previously suspended and fined for various offences, including delegating procedures to unqualified staff and failing to supervise foreign-trained dentists.

Opinion: Reflecting on Recent Misconduct in Dental Practice in a Consumer’s POV

In light of the recent sentencing of Singaporean dentist John Sun for making fraudulent MediSave claims, there’s a pressing need to reflect on the integrity and trust within the dental profession, particularly in specialized areas like orthodontics. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the crucial role of ethics in healthcare.

Orthodontics, a niche yet vital service in Singapore, hinges heavily on the trust between patient and practitioner. People seeking orthodontic treatment often do so with a blend of hope and vulnerability – they entrust not just their money, but their health and self-esteem into the hands of these professionals. Therefore, the actions of individuals like Sun not only tarnish their own reputation but also cast a shadow on the entire profession, potentially eroding public trust.

This breach of trust is particularly disconcerting in the context of Singapore’s well-regulated healthcare system. The city-state is renowned for its high standards in medical services, and such incidents of misconduct challenge this reputation. While Sun’s actions are undoubtedly an anomaly in a generally trustworthy field, they highlight the need for continual vigilance and strict adherence to ethical standards.

As consumers, we must be discerning and informed. While it’s reassuring to note that the Singapore Dental Council is actively involved in maintaining professional standards, as evident in Sun’s previous suspensions and fines for various misdemeanours, patients should also take an active role in safeguarding their interests. This means being aware of the qualifications of your orthodontist, understanding the treatments proposed, and not hesitating to seek second opinions when necessary.

For orthodontists and dental professionals in Singapore, this incident is a call to uphold the highest standards of ethical practice. Their commitment to doing so not only enhances their professional integrity but also ensures the continued trust and respect of the community they serve.

Ultimately, while the case of John Sun is unfortunate, it should serve as a catalyst for reinforcing ethical practices and trust in Singapore’s orthodontic services, ensuring that such niche areas continue to flourish with the confidence of the public.

Recommendations for Consumers

The incident involving dentist John Sun underscores the importance of being vigilant and informed when seeking orthodontic services in Singapore. Here are some recommendations and tips for consumers:

  • Verify Credentials: Ensure that the orthodontist is fully qualified and accredited. In Singapore, this means they should be registered with the Singapore Dental Council (SDC). You can check their credentials on the SDC’s official website.
  • Research the Clinic and Practitioner: Look into the history and reputation of the clinic and the practitioner. Read reviews, ask for recommendations from friends or family, and don’t hesitate to inquire about the orthodontist’s experience, especially in the specific treatment you require.
  • Understand the Treatment Plan: A trustworthy orthodontist will explain the proposed treatment plan in detail, including the expected outcomes, duration, and costs. They should also inform you about any risks or alternative treatment options.
  • Seek Second Opinions: If you are uncertain or uncomfortable with the recommended treatment, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion from another qualified orthodontist.
  • Beware of Unrealistic Promises: Be cautious of practitioners who promise unrealistic results or offer treatments at significantly lower prices than the market rate. This could be a sign of cutting corners or lack of proper qualifications.
  • Ask About Infection Control Practices: Given the close-contact nature of dental and orthodontic treatments, ensure that the clinic follows strict infection control protocols, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Check for Malpractice History: While this information might not always be readily available to the public, you can ask directly about any history of malpractice or disciplinary actions taken against the practitioner or clinic.
  • Financial Transparency: Ensure that all costs are clearly explained upfront, and there are no hidden fees. Be wary of practitioners who pressure you into agreeing to treatments without providing a clear breakdown of costs.
  • Post-Treatment Support: Inquire about the follow-up care and support provided after the treatment. A good orthodontist will offer regular check-ups and be available to address any concerns or complications that may arise post-treatment.
  • Trust Your Instincts: Finally, trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or pressured, it’s advisable to look for another practitioner. The relationship with your orthodontist is based on trust, and you should feel confident and comfortable with your choice.

Remember, orthodontic treatment is a significant health decision and investment. Taking the time to research and choose the right orthodontist can ensure a safer and more satisfying experience.

Final Thoughts

In wrapping up, the case of John Sun is more than just a news headline; it’s a wake-up call for all of us. It reminds us of the critical role ethics play in healthcare and the responsibility we carry as consumers to make informed choices.

While we rely on regulatory bodies like the Singapore Dental Council to uphold professional standards, we too have a part to play in ensuring our safety and the integrity of the healthcare we receive. Let’s take this incident as a learning opportunity to become more vigilant and discerning in choosing our healthcare providers, especially when it comes to specialized treatments like orthodontics. Stay informed, stay cautious, and remember, your health is always worth that extra mile of research.


Denisse loves reading and writing about culture, history, and politics. Outside writing articles for The Singaporean, Denisse enjoys musicals, gaming, and Harry Potter.

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