Judge awards plaintiffs $35 million in root canal case

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SEATTLE -- Getting a root canal can hurt the pocketbook and the mouth.

Performing thousands of unnecessary root canals on unsuspecting patients' mouths just hurts the pocket book as one former area dentist found out.

A judge recently awarded 29 former patients a total of $35 million after former Shoreline Dentist Henri Duyzend was found guilty of performing nearly 2,200 unnecessary root canals and crowns for more than 500 patients in the years before he retired in 2007, the Seattle Times reported.

In 2012, a judge determined that Duyzend gave his patients an average of four root canals each, much higher than a normal person would receive in their lifetime. Some patients spent close to $100,000 on various root canals and procedures that were deemed unneeded by other dentists.

"I was afraid to tell him anything was wrong with my teeth, because I was afraid he would say I needed a root canal," patient Laurel Stuart told the Times.

Many of the improper procedures were noticed by Dr. David To, who purchased Duyzend's practice in 2008. The dentist noticed a high number of patients coming in complaining of bad root canals or infections caused by shoddy work, the Times reported.

Duyzend opened his Shoreline practice in 1977. He surrendered his license in 2010 following initial investigations.