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Rosie Pittelli came to Natural Smiles Dentistry in Palm Beach Gardens in 2013 to straighten her teeth but now, she says she suffers from muscle inflammation and degeneration after wearing braces that were improperly placed.
"I couldn't believe this is happening," Rosie said through tears. "I trusted him."
Rosie can barely speak as she shares her story. Her jaw is so swollen and the nerve damage so severe, she can hardly open her mouth. She suffers from near constant muscle spasms on her face.
"I'm shocked and appalled that something like this could happen," said her husband, Joe Pattelli.
The Pattellis are in the middle of a civil lawsuit against Natural Smile Dentistry. They claim her dentist, Dr. Jose Alvarez, allowed his employee to work on her teeth without a license. That dental assistant, Luis Quintero, fitted Rosie with braces in 2015 but after a year it turned into a dental nightmare.
"I'm floored by this, not only for the pain in the suffering but that dentist would allow somebody that was previously arrested and not have a license to work with an individual such as my wife," said Joe.
Rosie went to Dr. Alvarez in 2013 to straighten her teeth using Invisilign. She was eventually switched to Quintero for treatment and he fitted her with traditional braces in 2015.
"But then she started to complain that her teeth were moving up...her jaw was hurting," said Joe.
Rosie says Quintero dismissed her repeated complaints.
In May 2016, after a year of wearing the braces, she was examined by Dr. Alvarez himself again -- the first time since Quintero fitted the braces. She says Alvarez was alarmed at Quintero's work and tried offering to pay the Pitellis to have it fixed at another dentist.
"I said, 'ask Alvarez if this guy has a license' and there was silence for 10 seconds. And then Alverez admitted that this individual did not have a license that he was working under Alvarez's license," said Joe.
Dr. Alvarez and Quintero were arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office this week.
Alvarez , 49, was arrested Wednesday and charged with employing a person to perform dental duties without a license. He is out of jail on a $3,000 bond. Quinterro, 52, was arrested at his Sunrise home on two charges of performing dental work without a license.
According to the police report, the Pittellis were told by Alvarez that Quintero is only licensed in his native Colombia.
According to Sunrise police, he was also arrested three years ago for doing dental work out of his own home in Broward County.
Dr. Alvarez told us by phone that he's innocent. He referred us to his attorney, Jack Goldberger for comment.
"We're very, very comfortable that everything that was done within his office was done properly and legally," Goldberger said.
He added that they expect to prove Alvarez's innocence when the case goes to court in January.
"Dr. Alvarez is just an extremely well respected dentist in town," he said. "Any treatment that was provided to patients was provided under his treatment plan, under his authorization and reviewed by him. And we really think these allegations are totally unfounded."
While investigators with the State Attorney's Office determine exactly how this could happen, Rosie said she hopes others like herself can speak out as well.
"Don't suffer the way I'm suffering right now," she said.
"Come forward come forward and do the right thing before someone else gets hurt," said Joe.
Natural Smiles Dentistry was still closed as of Friday during the day.
There is a helpful website by the Florida Department of Health that allows you to search for a doctor or dentist license. We were able to find Dr. Alvarez's license, but could not pull up anything on Quintero.
Scripps Only Content 2016