N4T Investigators: Tucsonans step up to help
July 27th 2018
Tucson – A chain of dental offices called, "Half Dental" apparently did half the work on some of its patients.
The company was plagued by lawsuits among its owners and franchisees, before all 10 of its offices nationwide apparently closed. That left some patients in a bad situation.
Lyn Millard was one of those patients, as we first reported on July 12. The southeast side resident told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "I know whether I want to cry or kill them. I mean, I can’t chew, I can’t smile correctly."
Millard said she had spent $4000, all the money she had, to get much-needed dental implants. A dentist at the now-closed Half Dental office on Oracle Rd. pulled her bottom teeth, then the practice suddenly shut down. That left Lyn, who’s 62 and disabled, living on $933 a month, with no money, no bottom teeth, and no implants.
After the News 4 Tucson Investigators reported Lyn’s story, viewers stepped up. Some offered to give her money for the dental implants. But she won’t need it, because we also heard from dentists and oral surgeons.
Dr. Robert Wood, co-owner of Arizona Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, called us minutes after seeing our story. He offered to treat Lyn for free. He would typically charge about $6000 for this type of treatment.
Dr.Wood said he’s donating his time and work because, "It’s good Karma. I think everyone in this world, including every one of us at some time needs help and I think it’s the right thing to do to reach out and help people."
Lyn said, "It’s just wonderful. I’m overwhelmed. That kind of money, to give me teeth, you know? It’s amazing."
Dr. Wood will trim Lyn’s lower jawbone and insert two implants. He first has to re-adjust her denture so she can use it for cosmetic purposes. Lyn says the denture that Half Dental gave her didn’t fit. The dentist at Half Dental who left Lyn in the middle of her treatment is practicing in another state and didn’t return our calls. He was not disciplined by the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners. Some long-time dentists told us the decision not to charge him with abandoning a patient was "Unbelievable." The Dental Board declined comment.
Dr. Wood said, "It’s not ethical and it really isn’t legal as well. I mean people that close their practice have an obligation to see that those patients are referred so that they can receive the appropriate care."
Dr. Rodney Gold will also help Lyn free of charge. The east side dentist will make her a new lower denture and do related work, treatment he’d typically charge $2700 for. Other local dentists who offered Lyn free treatment are Dr. Butch Diggs, Dr. Mark Larsen, Dr. Brian Mitchell and Dr. Howard Steinberg.
Dr. Wood said, "Sometimes you need to step in and do that and make things right. That’s kind of a duty to the profession, I think myself and my other surgical colleagues in town have all done the same thing."
"It just amazes me," Lyn said. "I know there are people out there that are generous and that caring that it just amazes me that they would be willing to do that. It’s just a dream come true.
Lyn’s new teeth should be in by, appropriately, Thanksgiving.