Local health officials say an update onto an ongoing investigation into allegations of improper practices involving a Tulsa dentist will be released to the public on Thursday.
Few details have been released about the investigation and what it could be about.
FOX23's Janai Norman tried calling the Oklahoma State Board of Dentistry to find out more, but only got a voicemail. Norman also called the Tulsa County Dental Society to find out what they knew, but that didn't lead far either.
A secretary with the dental society says the group offers a mediation process for consumers as a first step before filing an official complaint with the state. The secretary says patients and doctors try that route before getting lawyers involved, but if mediation doesn't worker, consumers can go to the state board.
Susan Rogers, the board's executive director, was able to confirm the investigation continues, and right now investigators are verifying facts and conducting interviews.
Rogers didn't outright call the investigation "criminal," but notes the board's investigators are certified law enforcement agents. She wouldn't say whether they're looking into one dentist, or multiple, but says the investigation involves multiple allegations, is mutli-facted, and Rogers says anytime her office is involved in an investigation, a doctor's license could be at risk.
Without the doctor in question being named, another local dentist says there are ways to prevent ending up in the wrong chair with a dentist who's had prior sanctions and complaints.
Mark Davis, dentist and owner of Perfect Smile, says the best way to find a good dentist is to ask a friend for a referral, or check reviews.
"One service that a lot of my patients like is rate a dentist, and on rate a dentist you can look at tons of reviews on people," Davis says.
On the website, rateadentist.com
, Davis average a 4.6/5 rating, but some doctors don't have any ratings. Davis says the board of dentistry keeps records about doctors with past complaints.
Norman asked, "If you see that a doctor has a complaint or sanction, is that kind of right away a red flag to just stay away?"
"Well it depends," Davis began. "It's hard for a consumer to always know that. Just because someone has made a complaint, doesn't mean it's valid."
But when the complaint is serious enough for the Oklahoma State Board of Dentistry to investigate, like the current investigation into a Tulsa dentist, Davis says the doctor is called before the board of peers to present their case.
"Ten you're asked questions that have to do with what the complaint was. At that point, the board will make a decision as to whether or not you need to be sanctioned, what that sanction will be; is that loss of your license?"
He says the board is a government agency designed to protect consumers, and when they're investigating, it can involve pretty serious allegations.
Overall, Davis advises trusting your gut when looking for a new dentist.
"If it doesn't look good, if it doesn't smell good, if it doesn't sound good, then it probably isn't good."