NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — A former dentist in Massachusetts has pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud for using paper clips instead of stainless steel posts in root canals.

Michael Clair is scheduled to be sentenced next Monday after pleading guilty last week in New Bedford Superior Court to a variety of charges, including defrauding Medicaid of $130,000 assault and battery, illegally prescribing prescription drugs and witness intimidation.

Prosecutors say the 53-year-old Clair was suspended by Medicaid in 2002, but continued to file claims from August 2003 to June 2005 by using the names of other dentists in his Fall River practice.

Authorities say instead of stainless steel posts for root canals, he used sections of paper clips — which can cause pain and even infection — in an effort to save money.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (83)
  1. george says:

    Attention Obamacare cost-savers: Make a note of this technique. Paper clips instead of stainless steel posts. Just the kind of rationing patients may never notice.

    1. john says:

      that’s stupid, george.

      1. single-payer says:

        No, it’s inevitable, john.

      2. Richard says:

        The UK has had single payer health care for over half a century. The Brits are known for their great teeth (not). They save money by pulling the tooth instead of wasting precious resources on a root canal. Who needs teeth?

      3. frankie says:

        …not as stupid as four more years.

      4. phil says:

        …not stupid at all. You haven’t seen anything yet, with regard to Obamacare. Day 1, ObamaCare MUST BE defunded. Vote!

      5. dude says:

        Richard, In England the government doesn’t pay for dental care. Nice straw man you have there, very easy to pick apart.

    2. Dudley says:

      If they even get dental care…

    3. MFFousse says:

      This dentist makes each root canal into your mouth’s own little personal Love Canal.

    4. Al G. Funguy says:

      “What Soviet Medicine Teaches Us” –

      “The appalling quality of service is not simply characteristic of “barbarous” Russia and other Eastern European nations: it is a direct result of the government monopoly on healthcare and it can happen in any country. In “civilized” England, for example, the waiting list for surgeries is nearly 800,000 out of a population of 55 million. State-of-the-art equipment is nonexistent in most British hospitals.”

      Stop voting for socialists like Obama, Obamacare inventor Twit Romney, and TARP bailout-lover Newt Chinrich.

  2. Huuf Arted says:

    The least he could have done was hopped on ebay and bought some stainless wire of the correct diameter and autoclaved it for cripes sake. Talk about an evil cheapskate…

    1. 24k says:

      Good point. Also given my mouth is loaded with root canals, it’s a good thing he’s not my dentist. He’d be swallowing shotgun shells right about now…

      1. 24K_isdumb says:

        Then you’d be in prison for murder, swallowing something else..

  3. single-payer says:

    The free market would take care of this, something Progressives are too narcissistic to understand. Right now only super-citizens, ie, bureaucrats, teachers, pigs, immigrants and white trash have healthcare. Something is better than nothing.

    1. Mike says:

      forgot the #1 output……..blacks.

    2. Al G. Funguy says:

      >The free market would take care of this, something Progressives are too narcissistic to understand

      Progressives don’t trust in freely acting people who seek to help each other:

      They take what they need at the end of a gun barrel.

  4. barry1817 says:

    I am just wondering how the paper clip can cause pain and infection.

    If the root canal is done properly, the canal is cleaned and treated. The paper clip, become no different that the stainless steel post, in the abstract of a metal post being placed in the canal.

    It is an attempt to obtain a fee by fraud or misrepresentation, and is wrong, but let’s separate the hyperbole from the facts.

    1. berniebouck says:

      Paper clips :iron, ergo: corrosion !

    2. E30TECH says:

      “If the root canal is done properly, the canal is cleaned and treated.”
      I’m sure he spent the time cleaning and prepping the root canal before putting a paper clip in as a post

    3. Dan Wilsin says:

      Not only rusts, but rusting process EXPANDS the original size of the paper clip. That can’t feel good.

    4. Lauren says:

      What kind of idiot are you? Stainless steel is chemically different than a paperclip for heaven’s sake. It is non-reactive. Paper clips will oxidize and rust. They have coatings that will slow this down some, but at the core they are recycled metal shavings. Hardly the same thing as surgical stainless steel. This guy should be hung!

      1. you are stupid says:

        “This guy should be hung!”

        That’s mighty muslim of you Lauren.

  5. guntownuncle says:


    Paper clips rust pretty quickly. Stainless steel shouldn’t.

  6. Dave says:

    The human body is not ph neutral so a paper clip will eventually corrode and dissolve as opposed to a stainless rod. Would you want a decayed paper clip in your tooth?

    1. Ubiquitous says:

      Actually, most paperclips are galvanized steel. Have you ever seen a rusty paperclip?

      1. antimatter says:

        I’ve never used a paperclip to fasten moisture either. Zinc can rust too, especially under biological conditions containing water, like the water within each cell within the gum layer.

  7. Voice says:

    The tooth hurts,don’t it?

  8. Holly Hall says:

    I am a nurse. This makes me sick and very angry. He deserves the worst punishment possible according to the law. I feel his patients pain.

      1. Ralphyboy says:

        Why is she an idiot? Do you have a rusting block of steel logged in your teeth? Even 200 years ago they used gold and other noncorrosive materials. The doctor is a quack!

  9. kdsizzle says:

    Great! now my teeth hurt

  10. dr nick says:

    the inside of a properly treated root canal has no fluids were the post space would be.irrelevant to ph or liquids since none exist.the cost of a proper post,stainless steel,or more normally,titanium,is the problem with this dentist.25 dollars per post,or chump change for the paper clip.

  11. drjohn says:

    That may be, but it’s a different assertion. The manner in which the story is presented is inaccurate. Posts are not part of the endodontic treatment. They are part of the restorative treatment.

  12. a dentist says:

    Using a paperclip and resin as a post and core is acceptable technique. I was taught that technique in dental school. The problem is that he billed it to insurance as a cast post and core (a more expensive treatment). That is where the fraud or wrongdoing is. The treatment he performed can work. The article doesn’t say all this and the author doesn’t know any better.

    1. nazgul says:

      where did you get your dental degree from??? a cracker jack box??? or were you taught dentistry by jozef mengele?

      1. a dentist says:

        Wow, what a comeback! And what a great person you are! To all the mature guys and gals out there, this dentist is not in trouble for making posts using paperclips surrounded by resin. Because it is taught at a well known major dental school less than 10 years ago when I was there. This dentist is in trouble with the law for insurance fraud. That’s the bottom line. The author of this article is just trying to be dramatic or just doesn’t know any better. The patient probably wants shock value to get more money in a lawsuit. And I understand the shock of the public that a piece of a paperclip is sometimes used. But in my opinion, an endodontically treated tooth (with root canal), with a paper clip post, surrounded by resin, with a crown over the top with good marginal integrity is safe and can be effective in the right case.

  13. loengard says:

    Drjohn – what you said is true, but rare is the first done without the second. Most people consider the root canal and crown to be part of the same “treatment” even if it is two separate things.

  14. Turban says:

    He used paper clips to match paper-mache’ crowns he was putting in.

    1. a dentist says:

      It’s surrounded totally by resin. It’s used as a post and core on a tooth that’s had a root canal. It’s safe. The paperclip part is totally enclosed in resin and not exposed to the oral environment. Unless the post cement doesn’t hold and the post and crown come out. Which is probably what happened. That’s how the patient knew. But it’s done everyday in the US. It’s probably taught at dental schools all over the US like it was at mine.

    2. denver bill says:

      Yes, it’s very safe. AAAAHHHHHHHH. No, no, it’s not safe at all.

      1. frankie says:

        a dentist- explained the process as he learned it in “Doctor School” #^#%$#.
        Tell us why this isn’t safe!?!?

      2. Artie says:

        You must be a Hoffman fan, too. LOL

    3. Marathon Man says:

      Funny. Sad that no one caught your reference.

  15. Aerospace Eng says:

    All the dolts who talk about paper clips ‘rusting’ are morons. In order for metal to rust it has to be exposed to Oxygen. That’s what creates the ‘oxide’. A paper clip sealed in a tooth / root can’t oxidize. You folks who run off to Costa Rica and Mexico for cheap dental work probably don’t know you have paper clips in your mouth, lol.

    Also, it is silly to talk about how this will be the technique under Obamacare. Because under Obamacare there won’t BE any dental care. Havn’t any of you ever seen the teeth of people from countries where there is socialized medicine? You know, like Great Britain? A horrific and scary mess.

    Too bad too, because dental health is a very important key to overall medical health in many cases. Gum disease and tooth decay are a leading cause of elevated histamines, inflammation, and bacteria which cause heart attacks, plaque build up in arteries, and a wide range of other problems.

    1. Weave says:

      Dental care is not covered under the NHS in UK.

    2. george says:

      It’s almost possible to identify the exact nationality of total strangers you see on the street simply by getting a glimpse of their teeth. The folks who are visiting from countries with socialized medicine nearly always display yellow and/or seriously crooked teeth. For example, my wife and I ran into a couple from Australia a year or so ago while vacationing in Arizona. Super-nice people . . . but OH those teeth.. .

  16. robinhunter says:

    It might be considered cruel punishment, but in this case, it would seem fitting that each victim be allowed to pull one of Clair’s teeth. And to all those who think placing a paper clip that will rust inside someone’s body makes good sense, I can only wish you surgery with a rusty knife — because using your logic, a rusty knife can cut too, and is so much cheaper than a surgical steel knife.

  17. Dave says:

    paperclips work perefectly well, as due toothpicks.

    1. MagnaCarta says:

      As “due” toothpicks? I don’t think that bolsters your argument.

  18. jack says:

    Dentists are worse than mechanics.

    1. Dave says:

      whatever jack, dentists are actually doctors who specialze in oral health. It’s always a few dishonest people in each profession who make a bad name. And by the ay, what profession are you in? (if you actually work for a living) Have there ever been dishonest people in your profession ?

      1. single-payer says:

        Dear Dave, the ADA has assured that all dentists are corrupt; just like the AMA with non-orals. You can blame yourself.

      2. single-payer says:

        Excuse me, “en-sured” not “as-sured”.

  19. Htos1 says:

    Deep cover operative,for the obamanauts,he’ll get a pardon in 2017.

  20. aubreyfarmer says:

    Fraud in dentistry cannot be overstated. Mercury, one of the most toxic substances know to man is mixed with other metals and put into your mouth as dental fillings. Does anyone see the potential health threat? After having my mercury amalgam fillings taken out my sensitivity to allergens decreased dramatically. This is a fact. And fluoride is a poison, yet at every opportunity dentists want to give you a fluoride treatment. My own dentist suffered from leukemia. Could it have been from all of the mercury vapor?

    1. a dentist says:

      Just about all of medicine is a compromise. I think sounds better to not have amalgam exposed to the oral environment. But, I’m in the trenches. And sometimes resin won’t work. Sometimes amalgam is the best option for the tooth. I prefer resin in most cases. Sometimes it’s a tough choice to make.
      I quit giving flouride to patients. I think it prevents cavities to a degree, but the problem is that are bodies aren’t all teeth. Flourine is the most electronegative element on the periodic table. So I’ve heard it competes with other elements in the body. I worry about what it does to the thyroid cause Iodine is in the picture there. Bottom line, if you eat a good diet like our ancestors, and you have good genetics, you will not get cavities.

    2. sarcastic dentist says:

      aubreyfarmer: As an evil greedy dentist, I agree with you. Mercury fillings should be outlawed, there by removing an inexpensive treatment option from the population & forcing everyone to pay much more for tooth colored fillings. I also think it’s a fantastic idea to ban Fluoride; my office is kind of slow right now due to the economy, I sure could use a sudden increase in tooth decay to help me ride out the bad economy….. I have my eye on a very cool Mercedes and its not going to happen unless you help me ban fluoride. And while you are it, just wanted to let you know that the government has found a way to bypass your tin foil hat, and it is reading your mind at this very moment….

    3. Ubiquitous says:

      Hydrogen is a explosive gas, oxygen is an accelerant. So mixing them together should make something that really blows up! Oh, it makes water? So mixing mercury with something else may change its properties? Take chemistry… it helps.

      1. Incredulous OMS says:

        Ubiquitous you are correct sir. What bout Sodium? Powdered sodium may combust spontaneously in air or oxygen . Chlorine, highly poisonous gas that can kill. Guess we should mix those two either…whoops, thats table salt? Dolts, America is an idiocracy.

    4. Another Dentist says:

      Yeah lets get rid of fluoride so I can do more root canals and crowns. I use fiber posts by the way. I agree with you about the mercury in amalgam, but you are totally wrong about the benfits of fluoride.

    5. Another Dentist says:

      By the way you probably exposed yourself to more mercury when the fillings were removed than you would ever have been exposed to by leaving them in place. I only do resin fillings because the amalgams weaken the surrounding tooth structure and are the wrong color.

  21. Thunderclapnewman says:

    Everybody, check your teeth with a magnet!

  22. Al G. Funguy says:

    How much do these stainless steel posts cost?

    Surely it’s negligible compared to the cost of an orthodontist’s labor!

    Penny wise, pound foolish.

  23. Incredulous OMS says:

    I love reading these stories about medical or dental malpractice because of all the quacks and idiots that come on here and make assertions like they have the slightest clue what the hell they are talking about. These are the same morons who sue when they dont follow instructions and get infections or ruin dental work by not following doctors orders. A Dentist and Aerospace Eng dont waste your time trying to explain med/dent facts and methods to these people. Its like trying to solve a math with bubble gum…wont work! lol

  24. Dennis says:

    the truth about Obamacare. Everyone should watch ! See what happens when Congress doesn’t read the bill. It should be repealed

  25. Princess Pelosi says:

    Obamacare = Making up socialized medicine as you go

  26. thomasandy says:

    this article is giving information about root canal procedure and some laws associated with this treatment. Dentist in Massachusetts has pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud for using paper clips instead of stainless steel posts in root canals. good post. good information.

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