LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — An unlicensed dentist, who the state board has reprimanded at least twice, will serve probation after an investigation found she was seeing patients in unsanitary conditions.
Maria Loyo-Morales pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully practicing dentistry in court on Wednesday. As part of her plea deal, Judge Mary Kay Holthus sentenced Loyo-Morales to probation.
State investigators began their investigation into Loyo-Morales in 2019, records show. She worked at the Royal Dental Group on West Charleston Boulevard near Decatur Boulevard. The business is now closed.
In 2000, a district court judge ordered Loyo-Morales to stop practicing dentistry without a license, “based on complaints” filed with the state dental board, according to documents.
In 2009, another district court judge issued a second order.
In 2014, the dental board filed a court order barring Loyo-Morales from working as a dentist in Nevada, “for non-obedience [the] order and permanent injunction,” the court documents state. Loyo-Morales never received this order and the matter was never heard in court.
Investigators said their latest investigation into Loyo-Morales began from a tip from a former employee who worked at the same dental office, documents show.
Ex-employee reported dental issues “ranging from falling crowns, having impressions taken from one patient’s trash can and using them on another, implants placed in the maxillary sinus and worn implants sterilized and placed in a patient’s mouth,” according to documents. .
“[The ex-employee] also mentioned that Loyo-Morales would not notify patients of issues caused by his dental work,” the documents state.
When investigators visited the now closed practice, two patients were “hiding in the employee break room”, according to documents.
Investigators later receive more complaints about Loyo-Morales, including from another ex-employee. This person told investigators “that a majority of [Loyo-Morales’] patients returned to [the] dental office in pain and with swollen faces,” documents say.
The ex-employee also told investigators that Loyo-Morales would treat patients with antibiotics brought from Mexico.
Investigators also spoke to a patient who said Loyo-Morales removed his tooth without sufficient anesthesia, documents show. In addition, another dentist told the patient that “his tooth should never have been removed”.
Other evidence described in court documents included videos of Loyo-Morales leaving the office in his disposable gloves, working on a patient with a power rotary tool, and caring for a patient with a dog in a bedroom.
As part of their investigation, the police also spoke with several patients. A patient said that Loyo-Morales “was ‘unprofessional'” and “dropped dental instruments on the floor and tried to place them in [redacted’s] blocked.”
As part of her plea deal, Loyo-Morales’ charge will be upgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor if she stays out of trouble. Holthus also ordered Loyo-Morales to pay nearly $25,000 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.