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 unlawful practice of dentist in court Wednesday. As part of her plea agreement, Judge Mary Kay Holthus sentenced Loyo-Morales to probation.
State investigators opened their investigation into Loyo-Morales in 2019, records showed. She worked at 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, documents said.
In 2009, another district court judge issued a second order.
In 2014, the dental board filed an order with the court to forbid Loyo-Morales from ever working as a dentist in Nevada, “for failure to obey [the] order and permanent injunction,” court documents said. Loyo-Morales was never served with that order and the issue 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 practice, documents said.
The ex-employee reported dental problems “ranging from crowns falling out, pulling impressions out of the trash from one patient and using them on another, implants placed in the maxillary sinus and used implants being sterilized and placed in a patient’s mouth,” documents said.
“[The ex-employee] also mentioned that Loyo-Morales would not inform the patients about the issues caused from her dental work,” documents said.
When investigators visited the now-closed practice, two patients were “hiding in the employee break room,” documents said.
Investigators later receive more complaints about Loyo-Morales, including from another ex-employee. That person told investigators “a majority of [Loyo-Morales’] patients returned to [the] dental office in pain and with swollen faces,” documents said.
The ex-employee also told investigators Loyo-Morales would treat the patients with antibiotics brought from Mexico.
Investigators also spoke to a patient who said Loyo-Morales removed his tooth without enough anesthesia, documents said. In addition, another dentist told the patient his “tooth should have never been removed.”
Other evidence outlined in court documents included videos of Loyo-Morales leaving the office with her disposable gloves on, working on a patient with a power rotary tool and attending to a patient with a dog in a room.
As part of their investigation, police also spoke with several patients. One patient said Loyo-Morales “was ‘not professional’” and “would drop dental instruments on the floor and try to place them in [redacted’s] mouth.”
As part of her plea agreement, Loyo-Morales’s charge will be dropped from a felony to a gross misdemeanor if she stays out of trouble. Holthus also ordered Loyo-Morales to pay nearly $25,000 in restitution and to perform 100 hours of community service.