Thursday, December 07, 2006
Omaha defense attorney James Martin Davis: "We will fight 'tooth and nail' against charges that Westroads grill installer was practicing dentistry without a license."Omaha.com If all you want for Christmas is to gild your front teeth, you may have to buy the bling-bling somewhere other than the Gold Plaza II kiosk at Crossroads Mall. That's because an employee of that shop, Bhavin Dalal, faces a felony charge of practicing dentistry without a license. He's accused of helping customers fit their teeth for glittering mouthpieces known as grills. It's the first such case in Nebraska involving the hot hip-hop fashion accessory. And Dalal and his attorney, James Martin Davis, plan to fight it tooth and nail. Dalal entered a not guilty plea Friday in Douglas County Court. Davis blasted the Nebraska Health and Human Services System for its investigation of Dalal and the charge that resulted. "It's overzealousness on the part of a bunch of bureaucrats" who don't want people to wear grills, Davis said. An HHS spokeswoman said officials acted out of concern for public health, because ill-fitted grills cause problems. "We're not against bling-bling," said spokeswoman Marla Augustine. "It's just when it's applied to the mouth and teeth and causes damage, that's where we're opposed to it." Bling-bling, for the record, is hip-hop slang for jewelry and other accessories. Grills, also known as fronts, are custom-fitted mouthpieces made of gold or platinum, sometimes with diamond inlays. They can be removable or permanent. They can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. A mold is made of the buyer's teeth, and then the jewelry is manufactured to fit. The state alleges that Dalal did something that only dentists can do in Nebraska - help make an impression of people's teeth, then sell them dental appliances. In May 2005, the Nebraska Board of Dentistry ordered Dalal and another Crossroads kiosk, Treasure Box, to stop their "activities surrounding the sale of gold grills" without a Nebraska dental license. In a letter, the state told Dalal that taking impressions and selling grills was the unlicensed practice of dentistry. Dalal said Friday that he stopped selling grills for a while after receiving the order. But he started selling them again after another lawyer advised him that he could do so as long as he didn't make the dental impressions himself. Then came a bling-bling sting. An undercover operative, working with a state investigator, went to Gold Plaza II last August. Dalal offered to sell him a gold custom grill for $260. Dalal is accused of giving the operative a kit - a dental tray packed with a puttylike substance - to make an impression of his teeth. Dalal told the operative how to make the impression, HHS Investigator Jeff Newman said in an affidavit for an arrest warrant. The warrant was issued after the gold grill came back from Gold II's out-of-state factory. Dalal turned himself in. He is free without bail. Davis said the state is misapplying the law under which his client is charged. He said he'll push for an acquittal. If state officials think grills are unsafe or have a problem with the way they were sold at the kiosk, Davis said, they should make grills illegal or take less severe remedies than a felony criminal charge, such as filing a civil lawsuit. Augustine said the Board of Dentistry interprets the statute differently from Davis - that only a dentist can make an impression of teeth and sell a dental appliance. "The reason (for the case) is that grills, when not properly applied, can cause irreparable damage to the teeth and gums," she said.
Posted by stan_sipple at 1:09 PM