Patient claimed illegal Burslem dentist left her with burned cheek
A DENTIST has been ordered to pay more than £4,000 after being prosecuted for practising illegally.
Joana Santos worked at Advanced Dental Clinic, in Burslem, for two months despite not being registered to treat patients in the UK.
Magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard the 25-year-old qualified as a dentist in Portugal, but her application for registration by the General Dental Council (GDC) – which regulates dental care professionals in the UK – had been rejected when she started work in Stoke-on-Trent.
The GDC launched an investigation after a patient lodged a complaint against Santos, claiming she suffered a burn to her face while receiving treatment.
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Zoe Foster went to the Moorland Road practice on December 4 after falling and chipping a tooth. The court heard Miss Foster told investigators she was x-rayed before Santos gave her a filling and removed some discolouration from a tooth using 'a light or laser'.
Following the treatment, Miss Foster claimed she had a 'red and swollen' area on her cheek, which was diagnosed as a burn at an NHS walk-in centre.
An GDC inspector investigating the complaint went to the private practice on February 5, and discovered Santos was not a registered dentist. She was arrested.
Investigators also obtained a statement from Mark Middleton, another patient treated by Santos, although he had no complaint about his care.
Francesca Keen, prosecuting for the GDC, told magistrates: "Miss Santos was not registered with the GDC. She made an application to join in October 2012, but the application was rejected because it was submitted in an incomplete format.
"As a result it is highly unlikely that she would have had indemnity insurance, leaving patients with little recourse for any claim they may want to make against her.
"It is with patient safety in mind that this case comes before you."
Santos, of Westport Road, Burslem, pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawfully practising dentistry.
The court heard she disputed Miss Foster's account and denied causing any alleged injury.
Her solicitor said she was 'devastated' and the proceedings had a potentially 'life-long impact' on her career.
Magistrates fined Santos £2,400 – £600 for each count. She was also ordered to pay £1,500 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
Santos, who is now unemployed, must also reimburse Miss Foster and Mr Middleton for the £248 cost of their treatment.
All dentists, dental nurses, dental technicians, dental therapists, orthodontic therapists and other dental professionals must be registered with the GDC to work in the UK.
After the hearing, Santos said: "I want people to know that I had started my application in October and I thought it was just a matter of the formalities being concluded.
"I didn't realise the awful consequences this would have for my life and possibly my future career. I'm truly sorry."