Houston father and son charged with practicing dentistry without a license and treating patients in filthy office

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

Byron Alberto Zelaya, 58, and his son, Bryant Jesus Zelaya, 31, 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 from the Houston Police Department’s Major Offenders Division said the father and son performed 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 in Bingle’s office for about a year. The victim paid $2,000 for cleaning and brackets in preparation for braces, but was alarmed by the unsanitary conditions and the lack of diplomas or licenses on the walls, documents show.

Dr. Thomas O’Brien said it is dangerous to have dental procedures performed by people without proper training and licensing.

“The results could be life-threatening,” O’Brien told ABC13. “You can end up with some kind of deformity in the mouth. The teeth don’t grow back. If you fracture someone’s tooth, it has to come out. Not only can it kill you, but it can also change your way of life. Proper sterilization of equipment is critical and I’d bet money they don’t sterilize instruments properly.”

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

Since their arrest, the Zelayas have been released from prison. Attempts to contact them were unsuccessful.

Houston police are urging others who believe they may have been victimized to contact the Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100.

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Milton S. Rodgers