A woman has told how she was left ‘traumatised’ when she discovered the dentist she’d been regularly seeing for a replacement crown was not even meant to be working in the UK and was practicing under a false identity.
But having gone through months of problems relating to his dental work on her, 31-year-old Lisa Eccles admits it ‘all made sense’ when she learned of a police investigation, and that her dentist was facing charges of fraud and assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) on patients.
For what should have been a relatively straight-forward crown replacement had turned into a nightmare for Mrs Eccles when visiting the Smiles Dental Practice, at Hallgate House, Cottingham
She had been receiving treatment – so she and the practice thought – from a capable, qualified, and fully registered dentist.
However, in reality she was being treated by Ronnie Barogiannis, a man was not registered by the General Dental Council (GDC), and who had previously been suspended from practising in Scotland.
Mr Barogiannis had previously been prosecuted north of the border for practising illegally, and was at the centre of a health scare at his own surgery, which resulted in hundreds of patients being warned they had been placed at risk of potential risk of blood-borne infections due to poor hygiene standards.
“I was quite traumatised by the news to be honest,” says Mrs Eccles, of Anlaby, East Yorkshire.
“When you go to your dentist or your doctor, you never really consider for one moment that somebody working there will not be registered by the relevant authorities or be qualified to carry out their job. You shouldn’t have to.
“When I got the letter though, it all made sense. He didn’t seem to be knowledgeable in the work he was doing on me and on one occasion when he was trying to fit a new crown he kept going out of the room and asking other people. It was also a very painful experience. I was in agony.”
Mrs Eccles had been seeing Barogiannis as one of two crowns that she’d had at the front of her mouth for around 10 years had chipped and broken at the start of June 2014.
It was initially removed, an impression taken of her mouth, and a temporary crown fitted in advance of a permanent replacement.
Having suffered some gum ache with the temporary crown, Mrs Eccles returned a couple of weeks later to get the permanent crown fitted. However, that proved to be the start of lengthy problems, as she says the dentist was unable to fit the permanent replacement.
“Looking back now it seems obvious that he didn’t know what he was doing and was certainly not experienced in this area of work,” she said.
“The measurements were obviously wrong and it didn’t fit properly, so would not screw far enough into the gum.
“He was trying to get it to fit for around an hour and a half. It was very painful and he was really struggling. He kept going out of the surgery and coming back in and starting again. He couldn’t get it to fit.”
Unable to fit the permanent crown, another impression of Mrs Eccles’ mouth was taken and another temporary crown fitted, but this fell out two days later when she was eating, she says.
Mrs Eccles was only able to get another appointment to replace it two days later, and says she was too embarrassed to leave the house or go to work with one of her front teeth missing.
A permanent crown was finally fitted on July 24 2014, at a cost of £650, but Mrs Eccles says fell out the next day when she was at a wedding, leaving her feeling ‘humiliated’ and forcing her to leave the celebrations early.
She says the dentist claimed the porcelain had not set properly, causing the crown to fall out, resulting in her again having to go through having a mould of her mouth taken and a further temporary crown fitted.
After yet another appointment to have a permanent crown proved unsuccessful, the job was finally completed after many frustrating weeks and lots of time off work to keep appointments.
“It was ridiculous really all the times I kept having to go back,” added the patient, who has this week gone on maternity leave as she is expecting her first child.
“It really left me traumatised and I couldn’t face going back to see a dentist for a long time. It just made me wonder who I could really trust.
“The practice did refund me for all the work I had paid for in relation to the treatment from him, which amounted to around £1,000, but now I have a new dentist and it looks like I may have been left with some long-term damage. “I am having to wait until my baby is born to have x-rays, but it looks like I could be facing some more expensive treatment as it is very inflamed around the new crown.”
Ashleigh Dance, a dental claims specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, is supporting Mrs Eccles in investigating possible civil action relating to the care she received at the surgery from Barogiannis.
She is also advising a number of other patients who were treated by Barogiannis, and said: “There are certainly a number of areas of concern for any patients who were treated by this man when he was illegally working and carrying out dental procedures under a false identity.
“Obviously, there are firstly serious questions to be asked as to how he was able to gain employment and go undetected in the role for so long.
“We have been contacted by a number of patients who appear to have suffered from sub-standard levels of dentistry from this man, and those complains are now being investigated by us in terms of considering possible claims relating to both negligent care, and assault.”
The sale of Smiles Hallgate House Dental Practice to Oasis Dental Care was announced in May 2014. Barogiannis worked at the practice before the sale and after, before finally being caught.
Patients received a letter from the practice in October 2014, by which time it was under the new ownership of Oasis, informing them their dentist had been unregistered and practicing under a false name.
**Pictured: The former Smiles Dental Practice in Cottingham, where the unregistered dentist fraudulently worked. Patients were informed of the situation in October 2014, shortly after the business was taken over by Oasis Dental Care.
The man has now pleaded guilty to fraud and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.