Donna Cooper can't believe her bad luck. The dental implants she paid thousands of dollars for are different sizes and lengths, and at least one is tilted away from the implant right next to it.
She called Team 10 after seeing our investigation into Dr. Robert Mansueto, who patients claimed was using the name Dr. Bob Franco. Mansueto's license to practice was revoked years ago, and there is no record in California of any licensed dentist named Dr. Bob Franco.
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In April, Cooper and a friend met the dentist at his home in Coronado. They got in his car and he drove them to Tijuana, where Cooper said Mansueto began pulling her teeth, while another dentist performed work on her friend.
Cooper went to Mexico with the dentist two weeks later so the man who called himself "Dr. Bob" could finish placing the implant posts in her jaw.
It wasn't until after her second trip, and a payment of $6,500, that she said she realized the work was sub-standard.
One of Cooper's sinuses was perforated, and some of the posts now implanted in her jaw became infected.
Cooper tried to stop payment on her check, but she learned "Dr. Bob" had already cashed it.
It was all the money Cooper had.
Team 10 arranged for a consultation with certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Albert Lin. Lin examined Cooper's mouth and studied 3-D imaging, and both showed the implants in her mouth had issues. Two implants that were side-by-side were not parallel. Dr. Lin told Cooper she might have an infection surrounding a couple of other implants.
The bottom line was at least 6 of the 8 implants in Cooper's mouth appeared to be placed improperly.
"Whether you want to call that a hack job or you want to call that inexperience or lack of training, in the end they're incorrectly placed in terms of position and also in terms relative to anatomic structures like the sinus," said Lin.
The oral surgeon asked Cooper if any mapping was done to ensure proper placement, and she said no.
"When you eyeball things, like this appears to have been done, that's when the variables start to increase, and the outcome starts to decrease in its success," said Lin.
Cooper fought back tears, and she asked, "When will I get my smile back?"
The answer isn't a simple one. First, the implants will need to be removed. The bone and tissue will have to be repaired and healed before new implants can be placed.
It could take months, and cost thousands of dollars.
Dr. Robert Gramins told Team 10 you get what you pay for when you have untrained dentists place dental implants.
"In the short term, you may be saving money, but in the long term, it may cost you 4 to 5 times as much to get the outcome that you desired," Gramins said.
"It makes me angry. It makes me terribly sad. There's a whole host of stuff running around in my head right now," said Cooper, who warned other prospective patients to do their homework before having implants placed.
As for the dentist who did the work, Cooper had two questions: "How do you sleep at night, and why do you not care if you hurt people?"
A state investigator has been assigned to Mansueto's case and has already interviewed some of the patients from the Team 10 investigation.
The result of that investigation could be forwarded to the California Attorney General or the San Diego County District Attorney's Office for prosecution.
Count on Team 10 to stay on top of any new developments.