The thought of needing a root canal (or really any dental work) is frightening enough that it makes most people nervous. But the recent hijinks of an exceptionally cheap dentist are just plain disturbing and cruel.

From The Associated Press:

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 week. He has pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicaid of $130,000, assault and battery, illegally prescribing prescription drugs and witness intimidation charges.

Insurance fraud is clearly criminal, and this dentist really pushed the envelope by prescribing drugs illegally and intimidating witnesses (I can only wonder what that entailed…you’re going to yank out my tooth and then threaten me later?). Critics of the insurance system are already blaming Medicaid itself for controlling the eligible fees for dental services and making it harder for dentists to make a living. But boo hoo! In spite of the fact that paper clips can be used as a temporary fix for root canals, they are never supposed to be used permanently — doing so can lead to infection and — surprise — blinding pain. Also, um…paper clips are office supplies, not dental supplies. It’s nonsense like this that keep people afraid of rogue dentists with cruel streaks and content risking yuckmouth to avoid negligence and pain.

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