By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A state board has found areas of concern with a Twin Cities dental practice that WCCO first investigated last summer.

Parents filed complaints about Dr. Deanna Alevizos diagnosing children with cavities. Other dentists said those cavities didn’t exist.

Alevizos has now agreed to take corrective action.

The Board decided not to take corrective or disciplinary action against her regarding her care for 21 out of 26 complaints and those complaints have been dismissed.

As WCCO found, that decision isn’t sitting well with some parents.

The Looyens were first to publically question the care Alevizos recommended for their then 4-year-old.

A trip to Metro Dentalcare Children’s Dentistry in Burnsville ended for Ella with word she had nine cavities. Four needed crowns.

“She was going to go ahead and drill in my kid’s mouth for no reason,” Marina Looyen said.

She went to school to be a dental assistant.

“I felt like something was up,” Looyen added.

Days later, another dentist detected what he called “tiny cavities” on three of Ella’s teeth. He had a $700 treatment plan versus Alevizos’ $2,900 bill.

Looyen’s Facebook post has led to dozens of others dating back years.

“I get a request to join our group almost daily,” Looyen said.

WCCO has learned at least seven families filed formal complaints with Minnesota’s Board of Dentistry.

“Very patiently we have been waiting for the last year,” Looyen said.

But not for this.

The Agreement for Corrective Action from the state says Alevizos “did not effectively communicate her treatment plans.”

They also point out that “she had “recently suffered a death in her family and as a result her professional communication was not at a level consistent with her normal standard.”

“I feel there’s a time and place to mourn a death in your family and while my child is in your dental chair is not the right time,” Looyen said.

The state says the agreement is not disciplinary action.

Alevizos will complete a patient communication course “regarding all available treatment options and compassionate case presentation.”

A Twin Cities attorney may weigh in next by filing a civil lawsuit. He’s representing 21 families who say Alevizos overtreated their kids.

“The board didn’t give us any justice, hopefully the lawsuit will,” Looyen said.

Alevizos declined a request for an interview, but provided the following statement:

“I appreciate the Board of Dentistry’s thorough review of my practice and I’m pleased that after more than six months of review it found no issues with the care I have provided my patients. I also appreciate its recommendation regarding how to make my communications with parents more effective and clear; this has long been a focus of my professional development and I look forward to continuing my efforts in that area.

“During this process, my treatment recommendations involving more than two dozen patients were reviewed by the Board and its expert as well as by two outside pediatric dentists – one a practicing pediatric dentist in Minnesota and the other an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dentistry – who found no issues with the care I provided. These outside experts also found that my treatment recommendations met the standards of care set by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Consistent with these findings, I am pleased that the Board – which includes both practicing dentists and public members – decided that no disciplinary actions were warranted in these matters.

“This experience has given me insight into how unchecked social media works and how it can be combined with mainstream media to create a rush to judgement that can do real harm and cause unfounded fear and confusion in the form of an echo chamber that amplifies unfounded accusations and shuts out countervailing facts. I know how this phenomenon has affected me, my family and friends and my staff; I cannot help but think it has caused unnecessary stress among parents who only want what’s best for their children.

“There is nothing more important to me and my team than the safety of our patients and the quality of the care we provide them. I will always make my treatment recommendations based on my best professional judgment and will always work in partnership with the parents of my patients to make sure they understand the reasons for my recommendations, the options available to them and that they are fully engaged in the care of their children.”

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