You shouldn’t have to question whether you can trust your dentist, ever. It should be automatically assumed that when you see that someone has a degree in dentistry and a business license that they will be kind, respectful, and professional. But sadly this does not always seem to be the case. Recently in Massachusetts a dentist was imprisoned and sentenced to a year in prison at the Bristol County House of Correction for using paper clips to perform root canals.
Root canals are supposed to involve the use of sterilized steel posts, and NOT paper clips! The dentist in question managed to defraud Medicaid of around one hundred and thirty thousand dollars. The dentist, Dr. Michael Clair, faced charges of assault and battery, fraud, and intimidating a witness. Dr. Clair was using the paper clips in parts of root canals to save money, leaving a large number of patients going home with infections.
Mother Brenda Almeida had sent her children to see Dr. Clair for their dental health, and is furious as what she believes to be a light sentence for Dr. Clair. She sent her son in for a root canal back in 2005. The procedure caused her son’s tooth to turn black, and eventually the tooth had to be removed. Almeida’s other two children also received dental care from Dr. Clair, and she is livid at the substandard treatment that he gave to them as well. After the judge gave the one year jail sentence Almeida said,
“He put my kids in pain for months … I hope he rots there.”
Both the prosecutors and the defense refused to make comment after the sentence was imposed, although the prosecutors had asked the judge to give a five to seven year term. The judge claims that mitigating factors were taken into account and led him to impose the lighter jail sentence. The judge cited that Dr. Clair had no prior criminal record and claimed to accept full responsibility for his actions, as well as the fact that some mental health issues on behalf of Dr. Clair may have been involved.
But prosecutors did manage to get one of their other requests. The judge granted that Dr. Clair be ordered to stay away from all the victims and his seven former colleagues. Some of the staff members were and still are concerned for their own safety and are grateful to have the order in place.
Dr. Clair has also been ordered to undergo five years of probation in addition to the prison sentence. Dr. Clair commented to the judge at the end of the sentencing with this, “Thank you, your honor, for your consideration.”
Clair has also been banned from practicing dentistry anywhere in the United States and lost his dental practice license in Massachusetts back in 2006. he had been suspended by Medicaid back in 2002, but continued to fraud the government aid service between August of 2004 and June 2005 by using the names of the colleagues in his dental practice on the forms. But the recent sentencing will now have Clair behind bars where he belongs, and he will never be able to practice dentistry again.