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Thursday, Oct 31 2013 05:02 PM

Dentist Tupac's work called 'abominable'

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    Dr. Robert Tupac, DDS.

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BY RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer rcook@bakersfield.com

LOS ANGELES -- A retired periodontist testified Thursday that Dr. Robert Tupac has a "horrible, terrible" reputation in Bakersfield.

Dr. Mark Katz, who worked in Bakersfield before he retired in late 2010, delivered his testimony at the Office of Administrative Hearings in downtown Los Angeles. Last year, Tupac, a prosthodontist, was accused of gross negligence and other wrongdoing by the Dental Board of California. The case arose from complaints from two former patients and another Bakersfield dentist.

Katz testified the work of Tupac's that he saw was "abominable," and that patients told him they had painful experiences in Tupac's office.

In contrast, Katz testified that Dr. Robert Reed -- the dentist who complained to the dental board about Tupac -- is ethical and honest, and that Dr. Peter Bae, another Bakersfield prosthodontist, has an "outstanding" reputation. Bae will testify Friday.

Katz said he knows Reed well and has worked on cases with him. He testified that he knows Bae professionally and socially, and that he appeared in a commercial for him about a year ago. Katz also testified that at some point between 2005 and 2010, Reed told him of a friendship between himself and Tupac.

The retired dentist said he first saw former Tupac patient Sheila Rios in April 2008 after Tupac had placed implants for her.

Katz said when she opened her mouth, he saw problems so severe that he knew they were beyond the scope of what he could do. He recommended removing all the implants.

As he browsed through photos of what Rios' mouth looked like when she visited him, Katz said he could see that her implants were showing through her tissue, though they should have been surrounded by bone. He pointed out "gross inflammation" visible on her upper jaw.

Surprisingly, Rios had excellent plaque control, Katz said. That's worth noting because it would be difficult for most patients to clean as well as she did for having such delicate tissue, Katz said.

Looking at an X-ray taken after her implants, Katz pointed out two root tips that remained in her mouth.

Katz referred Rios to Dr. Dennis Smiler, whom Katz had been taking courses from for about 20 years. Earlier this week, Smiler testified that he ultimately performed multiple procedures on Rios, including bone grafting and placing new implants with the help of another dentist.

In cross examination, Tupac's attorney, Jason Friedman, drew out that Katz didn't note the lingering root tips in his chart or his letter to the dentist who referred Rios to him. Katz testified that the retained root tips were not clinically significant to him in this case.

Friedman asked Katz if Smiler had told him that some of his work on Rios had failed. Katz said he had not.

The hearing wound down just before 3 p.m. Bae is the only person scheduled to testify Friday and the hearing is slated to resume for two days next week as well. Friedman reiterated that he is pleased with the case's progress and looking forward to laying out Tupac's case.

But Friedman will have to wait at least eight months to make his case. The attorneys agreed to postpone Friedman's presentation of Tupac's case because the dentist was injured in a car accident. On Monday, the judge overseeing the case said that the next opening in her schedule is in July.

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