No child likes going to the dentist, but for the children who went to the "Small Smiles" dental clinics, the experience was even worse. FORBA Holdings LLC, the parent company of the chain, settled with the Department of Justice for $24 million on Wednesday for allegedly performing unnecessary or substandard procedures on their young patients–a practice the DOJ is calling a "profit-turning" maneuver. According to the DOJ, the unnecessary dental procedures included removing teeth, x-rays, and pulpotomies, or "baby root canals". Sadly, the children who suffered through the unnecessary and often painful procedures at the "Small Smiles" clinics were already from a vulnerable population: they were mainly from low-income families on Medicaid.
Whistleblowers from inside the company recently told ABC that they were instructed to tell parents that their children needed procedures performed on teeth that were already healthy. In fact, the government’s investigation was spurred by three whistleblower lawsuits. DOJ Investigations into individual dentists are also ongoing.
Small Smiles has 68 clinics in 22 states and will remain open for business. According to a previous report featured on 20/20, one child claimed to have had 16 baby root canals–that’s nearly every tooth in the child’s mouth. Other parents also substantiated the DOJ’s claims, alleging that their children underwent unnecessary and traumatizing procedures.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.