Cheryl Laing and Jessica Gullickson, both of Broomall, Pa., were arrested after an investigation into the unauthorized practice of dentistry at the “Smilz 4 Life” dental office located on Old Lancaster Avenue in the Bryn Mawr section of Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael J. McGrath announced on Monday.
Laing and Gullickson are charged with Corrupt Organizations, Criminal Conspiracy, multiple counts of Theft by Deception, Unauthorized Practice of Dentistry and Recklessly Endangering Another Person.
The investigation, which was assisted by the Montgomery County Investigative Grand Jury, revealed that during regular office hours, Laing was employed as a dental assistant at Smilz 4 Life. The practice was operated by a licensed dentist. After business hours, Laing set up her own dental practice at Smilz 4 Life while holding herself out to patients as a licensed dentist.
Gullickson, a receptionist at Smilz 4 Life during regular business hours, acted as Laing’s dental assistant. The dentist and owner of Smilz 4 Life was unaware of Laing and Gullickson’s illegal activities and has cooperated with authorities in this investigation.
Laing advertised through word of mouth in Bryn Mawr that she could perform virtually all dental procedures for uninsured patients at a drastically reduced price. Laing and Gullickson only accepted cash payments and kept no patient records of their activities.
Laing and Gullickson did not take patient histories, such as past dental procedures and did not check whether the patients had drug allergies before performing treatment.
Laing and Gullickson performed the gamut of dental procedures including but not limited to: the taking of X-rays, injection of numbing agents, root canals, tooth extractions, the installation of both crowns and braces, and the dispensing of medications.
One patient indicated that he was in excruciating pain for the 45 minutes it took Laing to extract his tooth. Another patient indicated that during her root canal, Laing left the room and told Gullickson, who had no medical or dental training whatsoever, to “find the root.”
The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney John Gradel, who is the Captain of the Grand Jury Unit.
Police and prosecutors are asking for the public’s assistance in this continuing investigation. To date, police have positively identified three patients that Laing and Gullickson treated after regular business hours of the dental practice. Analysis of the computer logs for the X-ray machines used by Laing and Gullickson after hours show the existence of dozens of as yet-unknown patients.
The police are asking for the public’s assistance in the ongoing investigation. If the defendants, Cheryl Laing and/or Jessica Gullickson performed a dental procedure on anyone in the community at the Smilz 4 Life Dentistry Office outside of regular business hours, please contact Detective John Mick of Lower Merion Township Police at (610) 645-6229.