Father and son practiced dentistry without license, treated patients in filthy office, HPD says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A father and son have been arrested and charged with practicing dentistry without a license in an office in northwest Houston.

Byron Alberto Zelaya, 58, and his son, 31-year-old Bryant Jesus Zelaya, are charged with felony unlawful practice of dentistry. Zelaya's nephew, Omar Navarrete-Sevilla, 29, faces the same charge but at a misdemeanor level.

All three were arrested at 6401 Bingle on Monday. Officers with the Houston police Major Offenders Division said the father and son did dental procedures inside the filthy office and the nephew made mouth molds and worked with tools.

According to court documents, Byron Zelaya told police he was self-taught, had previously worked in a dental lab and had been practicing at the Bingle office for about a year. The victim paid $2,000 for a cleaning and brackets in preparation for braces but was alarmed by the unsanitary conditions and the absence of diplomas or licenses on the walls, documents say.

Dr. Thomas O'Brien said it's dangerous to have dental procedures done by people without the proper training and licensing.

"The results could be life-threatening," O'Brien told ABC13. "You can end up with a mouth deformity of sorts. Teeth don't grow back. If you fracture someone's tooth, it's got to come out. Not only can it kill you, but it can also alter your lifestyle. Proper sterilization of equipment is critical and I would bet money they're not properly sterilizing instruments."

O'Brien adds there are low-cost dental clinics available for the uninsured. Patients can check to see if someone is licensed on the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners website.

Since their arrests, the Zelayas have bonded out of jail. Attempts to reach them were not successful.

Houston police urge others who think they were victims to contact the Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100.

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