When her daughter fell and broke a front tooth, Claribel Agramonte looked for an inexpensive dentist.
A friend introduced her to Humberto Francisco Pérez, who offered to do the work in a back room of his Little Havana house for $500.
However, instead of fixing the tooth, Pérez filed all four front teeth all the way down to the gums.
“I asked him why he was doing that, but he insisted that he had been a dentist decades ago in Cuba and that he knew what he was doing, that my daughter would come out beautiful in her quinceañera photos,” Agramonte said.
Wednesday, police arrested Pérez, 81, and two members of his family, saying they disfigured the 14-year-old girl in February in the illegal dentist’s office at 1039 SW 11th St. in Little Havana.
According the arrest report, Pérez applied anesthesia to the girl and, without waiting for her to become fully numb, began filing down her teeth while she bled through the mouth. During the six-hour ordeal the girl screamed, cried, and turned and twisted in the dental chair.
After inserting a temporary bridge, Pérez gave the girl an appointment for a follow-up visit at which he would fit her with a permanent bridge. The girl came back for the next appointment despite her fears.
“What he placed in my daughter’s mouth was an iron bridge painted white with the form of teeth,” Agramonte said. “She looked as if she had four pieces of chewing gum instead of teeth.”
The teenager is now under the care of a dentist at the University of Miami.
“The professional dentist said he had never seen anything so horrid in his 30 years of experience,” said Miami police Maj. David Magnusson.
Pérez and his wife, María, who witnessed the procedure, face charges of child abuse, child negligence, and providing dentistry services without a license.
The couple’s daughter, Odalis Hernández-Pérez, faces a charge of child negligence. According to the arrest report, Hernández-Pérez was present during the procedure but ignored the girl’s screams.
Instead of helping the young patient, Hernández-Pérez complained about her, the girl’s grandmother told police.
“Daddy, that’s why I don’t like it when you work on children, because they always put on a show, crying,” said Hernández-Pérez, according to authorities.
For weeks after the appointment, the teenager complained of pain and sensitivity to anything cold or hot.
“The victim did not want to eat, and cried of pain,” the arrest report states. “Her gums were blackened and swollen.”
Police investigated the case with the Florida Department of Health and a Miami-Dade County team that fights pharmaceutical crime.
Detectives suspect there are more victims. To report cases of persons providing professional medical services without a license, call the Department of Health at 800-425-8852.