By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More families are coming forward after a WCCO Investigation revealed questionable dental care on children. The state is now sending a message to any other parents who believe they may have been duped by a Burnsville dentist.

Earlier this week, our investigation found children who were diagnosed with cavities that other dentists said didn’t exist. Now, Dr. Deanna Alevizos is issuing her first defense of the decisions she’s made.

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She’s the first south metro mom to publicly challenge her daughter’s treatment plan from Metro Dentalcare Children’s Dentistry in Burnsville.

Marina Looyen’s 4-year-old was diagnosed by Dr. Alevizos this summer with nine cavities. She said four needed crowns, but a different dentist spotted tiny cavities on three of Ella’s teeth. Looyen says she’s now heard from hundreds of parents with similar stories.

“With the amount of families affected by this it’s not just a misdiagnosis anymore,” Looyen said.

A new Facebook group emerged to compile the complaints. After refusing WCCO’s repeated requests for an interview, Dr. Alevizos issued a statement Friday.

In full, the statement reads:

“My team and I respect every family’s right to make the health care choices that are right for them. When a patient comes to our practice, the patient’s health and safety is our first and highest priority. The patient’s health and safety guide my care recommendations; those recommendations reflect the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and are informed by my professional training and experience of 22 years of practice as a pediatric dentist. Our commitment to our patients’ health and safety is unwavering.

“In that context, my team and I respectfully disagree with the concerns that have been raised through social media and recent news reports. I firmly believe the courses of care I have recommended were in the best interests of my pediatric patients. I am proud of the care we provide.

“As we would do in any situation, we invite any family with questions about a course of care to ask questions and to be fully informed as to the basis of my recommendation, their options and prognosis.”

Bridgett Anderson serves as Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Dentistry.

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“It’s definitely something that as a board I do not like to see hitting the media but I do want to let citizens know that’s what we’re here for,” Anderson said.

While privacy laws prevent her from talking specifics about this dentist, we do know six complaints have been filed with the board against Alevizos in the past. None resulted in corrective action so they’re not

“It’s very challenging because the investigative materials are not able to be released publicly so that does put me in a bind as far as releasing details to those specific investigations,” Anderson said.

Anderson says all too often patients are putting their complaints online — in some cases, unaware of the more formal process that can yield real results.

“If we never receive the complaints we have no idea of what’s going on in the public until we see situations like this,” she said.

No matter the allegation, Anderson stressed that all dental professionals deserve due process. It could take up to a year to sort out some cases.

Marina Looyen plans to see it through, so no other parent’s left to wonder if they made the right call for their children.

“I don’t think they know the extent of it,” Looyen said. “I’m fighting for people that didn’t know there was a fight to be fought.”

Eight members make up the Board of Dentistry — six are dental professionals and two are not related to the profession.

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On average, the board takes about 200 complaints a year. About 20 discipline orders were issued this year against Minnesota dental professionals, including three who have had their licenses revoked.

Liz Collin