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BY RACHEL COOK, Californian staff writer email@example.com
LOS ANGELES -- The attorney representing a dentist accused of negligence was in good spirits Tuesday following two days of testimony from dentists who acknowledged that some of their subsequent work on a patient at the heart of the case also failed.
But one of those dentists testified Tuesday that he believes parts for their work faltered for different reasons than the patient's problems with the work of the accused dentist, Dr. Robert Tupac.
Tupac's attorney, Jason Friedman, alluded to another reason, though he would not divulge those details.
"When we have a chance to put on our case, we're going to have testimony that there is a reason that doctors (Dennis Smiler and Marvin Waldman) suffered a similar failure with this patient," he said.
Friedman also said: "We feel confident that when we are able to put on our case that the equities will swing in Dr. Tupac's favor."
The state Attorney General's office filed an accusation against Tupac on behalf of the Dental Board of California last year. On Monday and Tuesday, respectively, Smiler and Waldman testified that they treated Sheila Rios after Tupac, including performing bone grafting and giving her new dental implants to replace Tupac's work.
Waldman testified that a fourth dentist who treated Rios after he did and Smiler recently told him that six of the implants they gave Rios have since had to be removed.
But Waldman also said that the failure of those implants was not relatable to the failure of Tupac's work.
Like Smiler, Waldman testified that Rios' implants from Tupac were not fully incased in bone as they should have been when she sought their treatment and that she had no molars. He also described how in some cases, her implants were loose enough to be removed by simply picking them out of her mouth with fingers during surgery.
Waldman testified that he carefully adjusted Rios' work and that she healed well following several surgeries.
"Everything was done properly, thoughtfully and carefully," but still something went wrong, he testified.
Waldman testified that the reason that some of his and Smiler's work on Rios failed was "biomechanical issues." With all her teeth being replaced by implants and her bone augmented, normal forces could have been too much for the implants, he said.
Waldman attributed the failure of Tupac's implants to improper placement, improper size and the effects of a poorly made prothesis. He also stressed that based on photos and X-rays taken before Tupac removed all of Rios' teeth, he did not believe all of her teeth should have been taken out. Dental work, such as filings, crowns or bridges, was needed but not full-mouth extraction, Waldman said.
Under cross examination by Friedman, Waldman testified that Rios had some bone loss before she went to the fourth dentist, but that he did not tell that practitioner about it when they discussed her case. Waldman also testified that Rios did not have any systemic disease that would affect dental implants.
Prior to Waldman, the wife of a former Tupac patient who complained to the dental board also testified.
After the hearing drew to a close for the day, Deputy Attorney General Morgan Malek said she is not allowed to comment on cases, while Friedman said he was happy with the dentists' testimony.
"We are very pleased with the testimony we have secured from doctors Smiler and Waldman, especially considering the ongoing failures of their treatment of the patient," he said.