AUSTIN (KXAN) - Police are looking for Austin man who they say was practicing dentistry without a license.
According to the arrest warrant, Rigoberto Valasquez-Correa, 42, may have performed dental work on multiple people. In November 2012, a friend recommended Valasquez-Correa to a woman, saying he had done work for her.
The woman arranged a meeting with Valasquez-Correa at a small shed in North Austin. According to the affidavit, Valasquez-Correa injected the woman's gums using a needle, operated a dentist drill, and used some type of UV light on the fillings. He did this while the woman laid in a beach chair, the document says.
Valasquez-Correa charged the woman $160 for the services.
The homeowner said Valasquez-Correa used to rent the small shed on her property until last November. The owner said she was unaware of his activities.
The arrest warrant documents says that a few days after the initial operation, the woman began to feel pain. She contacted Valasquez-Correa, who brought her medication, the statement said. The pain stemmed from nerve damage, according to consultation she had with a licensed dentist.
"Dental problems for people who are underserved is a huge problem," said Dr. Thomas Richardson, director of Manos de Criston, a non-profit dental clinic in East Austin.
Because the woman could not afford the fees a licensed dentist would charge to fix the problem, she returned to Valasquez-Correa, who was now operating out of a Southeast Austin apartment.
The back-and-forth between Valasquez-Correa and the woman continued in March 2013. It including a stretch of three visits to remove the fillings and replace them with a new substance.
"Occasionally, I have treated patients who have been here after the person they've been to wasn't doing what they needed to do to be safe and effective," Richardson said. "It's not a pretty picture."
Richardson said his office gets between 10 and 20 walk-ins a day. Many of those people cannot afford regular dentist rates, and turn to clinics.
"We offer some emergency dental care and we offer some limited comprehensive care," Richardson said. "We do both of those types of things for a reduced price."
Richardson says patients should never seek unlicensed help. While it may look like a low-cost option initially, it could end up costing much more in the long run.
A judge has set Velasquez's bond at $15,000. He is charged with practicing dentistry without a license, a 3rd degree felony.
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