An oral surgeon and dentist previously affiliated with practices in four New Jersey counties has been found guilty of “hit and run dentistry” and fined a massive amount.

The dentist was needlessly pulling teeth, using faulty implants and discussing treatments with patients who were under the influence of anesthesia, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. He now has to pay more than $517,000 in fines and restitution for “gross negligence and professional misconduct” in treating elderly, disabled, and low-income patients.

A medical malpractice monstrosity

Though most dental practitioners make their patients’ health and safety a top priority, “revolving-door dentistry that puts practitioners’ financial gain ahead of patient health and safety erodes public trust and undermines the integrity of the entire profession,” Grewal said in a statement.

That’s exactly what this dentist was participating in. According to NJ.com, an investigation showed that he would pull teeth and replace them with dental implants without checking if the natural tooth could be salvaged. Grewal solidified this, saying that some of the implants were lost and swallowed by patients or — yikes — migrated into the sinus.

The Attorney General also said this dentist would ignore or fail to take patients’ medical histories and “discuss treatment with patients who were already in the chair receiving anesthesia.”

Violating basic tenets of professionalism

In addition to putting patients’ health at risk, he also financially violated them. The dentist would perform procedures without regard to the patient’s ability to pay while pressuring Medicaid patients into taking loans that they couldn’t afford.

“His disregard for the well-being of his patients makes a mockery of the standards adhered to by those who are privileged to hold a license to practice dentistry,” Paul R. Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs told NJ.com. “The revocation of his license … removes a stain on New Jersey’s esteemed dental profession.”

Warning signs

If your dentist tries to perform a procedure without explaining exactly what he or she is doing, or implies it must be done immediately, without giving you time to consider your options, you may want to get a second opinion.

You also know your own dental history. If you’ve generally had uneventful check-ups and suddenly find out lots of different things need immediate treatment, that could be a red flag.

But most dentists are not out to scam you. They’re good people — and don’t want any part of a $517,000 fine.

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