In Spring Hill, Florida, Dr. Miranda Smith, DDS, was arrested on charges of defrauding Medicaid program in the state after pulling the healthy teeth of her patients in order to sell them dentures and performing other unnecessary treatments.
Investigators from the Florida Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit claim that Smith, owner of Smiles & Giggles Dentistry for Children & Adults, billed Florida’s Medicaid program $140,000 in services that were either not authorized or not even provided.
The Attorney General began receiving complaints from Smith’s clients about suspicious billing practices, such as charges for X-rays, anesthesia and other dental procedures that were not performed. Former patients also claimed that some of Smith’s employees provided dental care despite not being licensed dentists.
One parent of a minor patient was told by Smith that her child had eight cavities and would require sedation to receive urgent care. The parent received a second opinion from another dentist with more than two decades of experience, who concluded that the child didn’t have any cavities at all.
Several other patients had healthy teeth pulled, under Smith’s recommendation, and received dentures. Smith, who has been charged with two counts of Medicaid Fraud, did so in order to make larger Medicaid claims.
One of those patients, 72-year-old James Reynolds, had all of his teeth pulled and received dentures from Smith, but the dentures didn’t fit. Now, Reynolds, who lives on a fixed income from Social Security, has to wait for new dentures from another dental practice.
Reynolds visited another dentist after learning of Smith’s arrest on TV. “They told me, ‘Those dentures are too big for your mouth, and they’re made incorrectly,'” he said, but when he found out later he was only eligible for one pair every five years under his coverage.
Reynolds’s plan, through Simply Healthcare, received his appeal and later approved it. A representative from the company also said that Smith was no longer a doctor on their plan.
For patients who need them, dentures help to replace missing teeth, and they give patients the ability to eat solid foods, which Reynolds’s ill-fitting pair of dentures didn’t allow him to do at all.
“Dentures may be loose the first day or so and sore for a week or two,” says Dr. Darold Opp of the Center for Advanced Dentistry in Aberdeen, S.D. “But if your loose dentures go on for long or your gums are persistently sore, you should see your dentist about having your dentures adjusted,” Dr. Opp said. “The point of dentures is to have a better life, not a worse one.
If found guilty, Smith could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The Florida Department of Health’s Board of Dentistry voted on May 16, 2014, to suspend Smith’s license.
As of the beginning of June, Smith’s license has been reinstated and her practice is back open. There is no word from the Florida Department of Health on why Smith’s license was renewed despite the pending criminal case.