North Carolina officials have filed a lawsuit against DentalWorks, alleging that the dental chain pressured dentists and dental workers to give patients expensive, unnecessary treatments.
The claim is part of a suit the state dental board filed in Wake County Superior Court in February, according to a story in the Fayetteville Observer. The suit also claims DentalWorks is illegally practicing dentistry because only dentists licensed in North Carolina can legally own dental practices there.
The board's lawsuit accuses DentalWorks of lying for nearly 10 years about its relationship with North Carolina practices. Instead of merely managing the practices, DentalWorks has secretly owned and controlled them, the board said.
A related lawsuit was filed last month against DentalWorks by 14 dentists who work in DentalWorks offices, including two dentists from Cumberland County.
Both lawsuits allege that patients are being taken advantage of to boost profits and that DentalWorks has used financial incentives, protocols, internal recommendations, warnings of malpractice lawsuits, and other pressure to push dentists and hygienists to falsely diagnose patients with periodontal disease.
DentalWorks has more than 150 locations in 14 states, including 30 in North Carolina. DentalWorks is the trade name for Dental One of Ohio and Texas.
Dental service organizations have been the target of similar lawsuits in other states, and many states are considering laws to ensure that dental treatment is directed solely by licensed dentists, not by corporate entities.