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  • 22 Dec 2014

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Faulty implants leave lifetime of pain

After settling a malpractice lawsuit, Debra Heumphreus wishes she had known at age 50 what she knows now at 63 with her left side of her mouth permanently paralyzed by faulty implants.

by: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - HeumphreusHeumphreus, a Happy Valley resident who retired as a real-estate broker and developer in Florida, has never had good teeth. She was born with a cleft palate, so she had a small mouth and lots of dental work starting as a small child.

But dentists had been able to keep her mouth pain in check — until she visited Dr. Alireza Farid Bolouri’s downtown Milwaukie office on Dec 12, 2007.

“This guy had absolutely no idea what he was doing,” she said.

The Oregon Board of Dentistry found that Bolouri used a 13-millimeter implant without first obtaining adequate radiographs of Heumphreus’ jaw where there was a significant risk of intruding on the mandibular canal when using an implant of that length. When she returned with symptoms of numbness Dec. 19, 2007, Bolouri failed to refer her to a specialist.

“He delayed for three years saying that the implants were getting better when they were actually getting worse as the posts got more entrenched into my bones,” she said.

Long-term suffering likely

Newport dentist Gary L. Wyatt, who independently reviewed her case, gave her a dire long-term prognosis. She’s now stuck without any bottom teeth and on daily nerve medications.

“Because of Dr. Bolouri’s gross negligence, Heumphreus will have a lifetime of suffering due to the injury in the left inferior-alveolar nerve,” he wrote. “She has continued pain, tingling and numbness in the left lip, chin, gum tissue and teeth as a result of the nerve injury. by: PORTLAND DENTAL GROUP - BolouriShe must also undergo surgery, with bone grafting and more implants, to achieve any type of occlusion (chewing) function.”

After the implants that Bolouri put in had to be replaced in March 2012, Heumphreus wished she had done her research not shown on websites such as healthgrades.com. All of her implants except the one stuck in her nerve could have been returned on warranty, but only if the dentist who installed them (Bolouri) took them out and returned them for the credit.

“Its an absolute rip-off zoo for the public,” she said.

Bolouri has developed a case history of discipline through the Dentistry Board. In 2010, Bolouri had to pay a $2,000 fine for his responsibility for similar malfunctions in another woman’s implants installed just a few months before Heumphreus’.

The Dentistry Board mandated that Boluri pay $1,000 and complete 16 hours of training in treating medically compromised patients after it found he had “betrayed confidences in the patient-dentist relationship” and failed to give antibiotics when it was medically indicated. Another $1,000 fine and board-mandated education came in 2005 after Bolouri falsified his license-renewal documents by saying he had completed his continuing-education requirements. All the while, he had been treating patients without documenting prior consent and names of local anesthetics he administered.

Continued education

Since graduating from OHSU’s school of dentistry in 1992, it appears Bolouri still practices specialized forms of dentistry, including implant installation, at Portland Dental Group in Northeast Portland. He attended Oregon State University for his undergraduate studies and received his dental training at OHSU. He has been in private practice serving the greater Portland area since his graduation in 1992.

Bolouri did not respond to requests to comment on this story.

“Dr. Bolouri has extensive training and experience in endodontic (root canal therapy) and cosmetic dentistry,” according to a statement on his website. “He is also certified and highly trained in placement of dental implants and Invisalign. He attends many continuous education lectures throughout the year to keep up with the most advanced technology and best treatment options for his patients.”

Heumphreus sees systemic problems in the dental care industry. Eighty percent of global sales of implants are provided by the so-called “Big Six” of nearly 100 companies: Nobel Biocare, Straumann, Biomet 3i, Zimmer, Dentsply and Astra Tech. Nobel Biocare also trains doctors in their products and makes large contributions to dental schools.

“There is no requirement for a regular dentist to have set implant training,” she said. “It has only been required when a complaint has happened and he or she has crippled someone.”

Heumphreus doesn’t like the idea that the Oregon Board of Dentistry allows this to continue.

“Everyone seems to work on a trust basis, and then everyone is surprised if people are not honest,” she said. “This system is broken and needs exposure, or at least the public should be aware of the stupidity of it so they can protect themselves.”