Former Massachusetts dentist Dr. Michael Clair was sentenced to one year in jail yesterday for substituting paper clips for stainless steel posts in root canals.

Besides the misuse of office supplies, Clair pleaded guilty to charges of assault and battery, illegally prescribing medication, witness intimidation and defrauding Medicare of $130,000.

To save money Clair fraudulently billed Medicare for stainless steel posts that were instead substituted by paper clips.  He put my kids in pain for months, said Brenda Almeida of Clair's malpractice.  I hope he rots there, Almeida said after Judge Richard Moses sentenced the doctor.

Due to having an empty criminal record besides what he was accused, as well as certain mental health issues and his acceptance of responsibility, Judge Moses gave Clair two-and-a-half years, with all but one year suspended, along with five years probation.  Prosecutors had originally asked Judge Moses for five to seven years behind bars. 

With his sentence Clair has also been ordered to stay away from not only his victims, but seven people who worked in his office, after former staff members expressed concern for their safety.  The request was granted by Judge Moses.

So what exactly does substituting a paper clip for stainless steel posts in a root canal do to your mouth?

Dr. Robert Gold who practices dentistry in Croton-On-Hudson, New York stated that the primary risk in using a paper clip during a root canal is that it is soft and bendable.  Normal materials would be titanium and cast gold.  It [the paper clip] is so weak that it would fracture, said Dr. Gold. The dental work on top will fail. 

Dr. Gold went on to say that as the paper clip weakens and bends it would allow food and other bacteria inside which would cause infection.  An infection would ultimately lead to the loss of the tooth.