French dentists jailed for mutilating hundreds of patients

The father and son pair carried out 3,900 botched and unnecessary root canal operations, leaving many patients disfigured and in constant pain

A father and son dentist team have both been jailed for having mutilated and defrauded hundreds of their patients
Published Last updated

A father and son dentist team have been jailed by a Marseille court for removing teeth from hundreds of patients who did not need such work and fitting dental bridges leaving many disfigured and in pain.

The son, Lionel Guedj, 42, ran a surgery in an impoverished area of Marseille, operating with help from his father Carnot Guedj, 70, before being charged with deliberately causing mutilations in 2012. They have both been struck off the dental register.

Read more: Trial of French dentists accused of ‘deliberate violence’ begins today

The son has now been sentenced to eight years in prison, and his father five, and the judge made the unusual move to order both men directly to prison, regardless of whether or not they appeal.

Prosecutors said that Lionel Guedj performed around 3,900 root canal operations on 327 patients who did not need them, requiring their teeth to be removed and replaced with bridges.

He would see up to 70 patients a day, promising “celebrity smiles”.

By fitting 28 times the number of bridges an average dentist would fit, he is said to have become France’s highest paid dentist in 2010, earning €2.9million.

With his money, he bought luxury cars, a 15-metre-long yacht and property worth €9.5million, much of which has now been confiscated.

‘Pain 24 hours a day’

Lionel Guedj told the court: “Never, but really never did I intend to injure or cause pain.”

However, the judge, Céline Ballerini said that he and his father had established a “systematic” scheme which “destroyed” the lives of patients who found themselves in “intolerable pain”.

One of the pair’s victims, Ouassila, said before the trial that: “I had lost half my teeth by the time I was 45, and at 55 I no longer had any, only implants.”

During the trial, the Guedjs’ former patients spoke of unbearable pain, abscesses, cysts and other recurring issues caused by the dentists’ practices.

Some said that they felt they had been “violated” by them.

One woman, who was 18 at the time, went to Lionel Guedj for a minor enamel issue, but he pulled out 24 of her healthy teeth without disinfecting the roots.

Since then she has had “pain 24 hours a day… My life is on standby.

“You want to crawl into a hole and never come out again, even to work.”

The judge’s sentencing was met with applause from the 100 or so victims who were present for the trial.

Ms Ballerini said that her sentence was justified because of the “number of victims”, the exploitation of the state social security system, the added costs incurred by the mutilated patients and the length of time over which the father and son carried out their scheme – six years.

She said that during the trial, the two dentists had appeared “cold, inaccessible, removed from all remorse” and that she had not been able to “perceive a sincere empathy”.

Both had denied the charges, but their lawyers had said that they would plead guilty to the lesser offence of involuntary wounding, which comes with a maximum prison sentence of three years.

Related articles

French dental service is ‘fundamentally flawed’, says ex NHS dentist

Can you consult a medical specialist without seeing your GP in France?