More patients accuse dental office worker of improper care

More patients accuse Morristown dental office worker of improper care

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"She put the top one in. She first did it easy. Then she took her finger and rammed it up into the roof of my mouth," Tracie Hopson said. "She put the top one in. She first did it easy. Then she took her finger and rammed it up into the roof of my mouth," Tracie Hopson said.
"I tried to tell her (Jennifer Harrison) they were too big. She wouldn't listen, just said you'll have to learn to live with it.," Annie Norwood said. "I tried to tell her (Jennifer Harrison) they were too big. She wouldn't listen, just said you'll have to learn to live with it.," Annie Norwood said.
Jennifer Harrison Jennifer Harrison

By DON DARE
6 News Reporter

MORRISTOWN (WATE) - More patients are raising concerns about a discount dental office in Morristown.

One patient says her problems started two years ago. Another claims she was subjected to inappropriate procedures.

These new patients say they can't wear their dentures after being treated by an unlicensed employee at the office.

The accusations by two more women are regarding Jennifer Harrison, the office manager at Affordable Dentures. She tells patients she's a dental assistant. She's also the wife of David Harrison, the dentist who runs the discount clinic.

6 News first reported on Affordable Dentures on July 16.

Several times a day, Tracie Hopson fills a cup with warm salt water and swishes it through her mouth, hoping it heals her gums and eases her pain.

At the end of May, she went to Affordable Dentures to have impressions made. However, her teeth were pulled at Cherokee Health Systems in Maynardville.

The day after her extractions, Tracie visited the Affordable Dentures office to get her temporary teeth.

Her scheduled appointment indicated she would only pick up her dentures. But Tracie says Jennifer Harrison told her that would not be the procedure.

"They informed me that they had to deliver them to me, which meant they had to put them in my mouth. I said, can I see Dr. Harrison and talk to him? She said, 'He's unavailable. He's making other people's teeth,'" Tracie said.

She says when she got the dentures, because her teeth had been extracted the day before, her gums hurt. Nevertheless, the plate was put in Tracie's mouth.

"She put the top one in. She first did it easy. Then she took her finger and rammed it up into the roof of my mouth," Tracie said.

She says a moment later, the process was repeated. "She waited till it eased off, then she rammed it again. I said stop right now. Give me my teeth."

During that time Tracie says, "I asked her right then to see Dr. Harrison. She said he's unavailable. That was the second time in one day that I asked to see him."

Tracie says she wears her dentures sparingly. They don't fit. She claims her gums are still sore from when the dentures were roughly inserted.

Last week, 6 News reported that June McClary has been banned from Dr. Harrison's office after she complained about Jennifer Harrison. She showed us pictures of burns to the roof of her mouth. She says the injury happened within hours after Jennifer had relined her dentures.

Also, Teresa Underwood told us last week that Jennifer Harrison cleaned out bone spurs in her mouth last March and even pulled a tooth.

Jennifer Harrison claims she's a dental assistant with years of experience working in the office. However, a check of state records shows she's not a licensed dental assistant.

A check of David Harrison's record shows he did report to the Tennessee Dental Board that in 2004, he voluntarily surrendered his license in Louisiana for alleged fraud, abandonment of patient and improper prescribing.

Another one of Dr. Harrison's patients is Annie Norwood. When she bites into food like a hamburger, she has to gum it.

Annie can't wear her upper plate anymore. She had it made at Affordable Dentures two years ago.

The last time Annie visited was in January of this year for an adjustment. "I tried to tell her (Jennifer Harrison) they were too big. She wouldn't listen, just said you'll have to learn to live with it."

She's asked to see Dr. Harrison about her ill-fitting teeth. "I haven't seen him the last four or five times I've been down there. He hasn't come in."

In Norris, Dr. Michael Beeler, a dentist for 36 years, showed us what adjusting a denture is like. He says under state rules, dental assistants are not allowed to make adjustments, fittings or placements of dentures even though a few are capable.

"But we have to go by the rules," Dr. Beeler said. "If we go by the rules, dental assistants aren't allowed to do this."

He says the dentists assume overall responsibility for patient care in their office. "The dentist is the ultimate one responsible for patient care."

Dr. Beeler doesn't know any of the people involved in our investigation. However, he says the board of dentistry rules are clear on who can and who can't work on patients and what the role of the dentist should be.

"So the dentist needs to be involved. He needs to talk to the patient. He needs to come in and ask the patient questions to observe and see what's going on," he explained.

Tracie Hopson says someday she'd like to wear her teeth. "The only time I use them is when I go out because I don't want to be toothless," she said.

Despite efforts to reach the Harrisons for comment, our calls were not answered.

The corporate office for Affordable Dentures says it has no comment.

The people 6 News interviewed have either called the state dental board or talked directly with investigators who are looking into allegations at Affordable Dentures in Morristown.


If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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