Cops arrest two for unlicensed dentistry

Two Broomall women have been arrested after they ran a dental practice in Bryn Mawr, even though neither had the training nor license to do so.

Cheryl Laing and Jessica Gullickson were charged with corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy, reckless endangerment, theft by deception and unauthorized practice of dentistry after a grand-jury investigation found that they treated patients at the Smilz 4 Life on Old Lancaster Avenue, said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Laing worked as a dental assistant, and Gullickson was a receptionist, at Smilz 4 Life - a legitimate practice owned by a licensed dentist - during the day, Ferman said. But after business hours, Ferman said, Laing presented herself as a licensed dentist (with Gullickson as her assistant), advertising by word of mouth that she could treat uninsured patients at drastically reduced prices, Ferman said. They accepted only cash payments and kept no patient records. They also didn't take patient histories, nor check to see if patients had drug allergies before performing treatments. They did everything from taking X-rays and injecting numbing drugs to performing root canals, installing braces and extracting teeth, Ferman said.

One patient told investigators he was in excruciating pain for 45 minutes while Laing pulled his tooth, and another said that Laing left the room during her root canal, urging the untrained Gullickson to "find the root."

"The dentist and owner of Smilz 4 Life was unaware of Laing and Gullickson’s illegal activities and has cooperated with authorities in this investigation," Ferman said.

Authorities have identified three patients treated by the rogue pair. But X-ray records suggest their could be dozens more. So police are asking for the public’s help to identify other victims.

Anyone who underwent a dental procedure at Laing's or Gullickson's hands outside the office's regular business hours should call Det. John Mick of Lower Merion Township Police at (610) 645-6229.

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