A Close Look at Richard T. Hansen, D.M.D.

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
February 28, 2015

Richard T. Hansen, D.M.D. and Andrew S. Yoon, D.M.D. operate the Laser Dental Wellness Cancer (previously called Comprehensive Dental Center Associates) in Fullerton, California. A biographical sketch on the clinic’s Web site includes these details about Hansen :

For over 35 years, Richard T. Hansen, DMD, has been been practicing dentistry at the same location in Fullerton, California. He has been a pioneer in improving the present state of dentistry and finding better, more patient-friendly ways of delivering advanced dental care and improving whole-body health. . . .

Dr. Hansen received his BS degree in Biological Sciences from USC in 1972 and his dental degree in dentistry from Washington University in 1976. After graduation, he received training in acupuncture, eastern medicine, and nutrition. Dr. Hansen has helped pioneer many advanced techniques for lasers in dentistry including FDA clinical trials for the use of lasers in hard tissue applications. He is currently working on research that will help prevent root canals using laser treatments and biocompatible compounds. Dr. Hansen is also focused on the electrical currents generated by the mixed metals in the mouth and their effects on brain rhythms and the sympathetic nervous system. His work in psycho-neuroimmunology and behavioral electroencephalography has led him to help establish the Society for Advancement of Brain Analysis. He is a member of over 16 professional societies, both dental and medical, and has authored several papers on lasers, high-tech dentistry, dentistry and health, and has given many presentations nationally and internationally dealing with these subjects.

Dr. Hansen is also a past faculty member of UCLA’s School of Dentistry, Department of Fixed Prosthodontics, and maintains a private practice in Fullerton, California, utilizing the most advanced dental techniques and equipment including 14 different lasers, ozone therapy, CAD/CAM, air abrasives, computerized treatment rooms, microscopes, cosmetic imaging, intra-oral cameras, laser diagnostics, and digital x-rays. He also serves as the Director of the Advanced Health Research Institute, a 501c3 non-profit organization, dedicated to research and education of the root causes of illness and the dysfunction of functional systems leading to a predictable process of disease.

Along with attorney Ellen Brown, he co-wrote the critically acclaimed book The Key to Ultimate Health, and was the host of a radio talk show on KIEV radio called “Dentistry and Health.” Dr. Hansen is the developer of the Laser-Assisted Bacterial Reduction Program, a teeth-cleaning protocol for eliminating bacteria and toxins from the mouth, which have been shown to be a significant risk factor to patients, contributing to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other disease processes. . . .

He has been on the advisory board of Fitness and Health Magazine and is frequently consulted in many national magazine articles. Dr. Hansen has also appeared on many television programs including The Phil Donahue Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Good Day L.A [1].

Strange Ideas

Hansen advocates “functional dentistry,” which he created and defines as “an approach to dental care that recognizes the complete integration of the mouth with all the functioning systems of the human body, identifying and treating any oral stressor that may adversely affect a patient’s overall health.” A Laser Dental Association pamphlet [2] includes the following unsupportable claims:

  • Mercury and other chemicals used in traditional dental treatments may be very harmful and toxic to the body in general, the mouth in particular, and interfere with many bodily functions. [This statement, primarily an attack on dental amalgam, is false. There is no scientific evidence or logical reason to believe that the mercury in amalgam fillings, which is strongly bonded to the other substances in the amalgam, has any toxic effect.]
  • The mixed metals used in fillings, crowns and bridges produce voltage and electromagnetic fields which may influence brain function and brain rhythm patterns. A Vegatest readout showing high voltage levels from metal fillings and crowns in the mouth. [The Vegatest is a quack device that has no valid use in detecting or diagnosing anything.]
  • TMJ issues may negatively affect body structure, alignment, muscles, and our nervous system and can influence the whole body’s well-being. [There is no scientific evidence or logical reason to believe that problems in the temporomandibular joints (jaw joints) cause ailments in distant parts of the body.]
  • Many root canal procedures may cause tooth loss, bone death and necrosis (gangrene). [Root canal procedures generally save teeth.]
  • Standard, traditional dentistry may lead to more dental treatments being needed later, as almost all adult dentistry performed today is working on teeth that dentists have drilled and filled early in life. [This appears to say that standard dentistry is all wrong.]
  • Routine dental procedures, done “The Laser Way,” may have the potential to change all of this.

Hansen’s book,
The Key to Ultimate Health—which I bought for 2 cents plus shipping on Amazon—is even stranger. Although I looked carefully, I was unable to find any words that could be construed as a supposed “key.” Instead, I found a general trashing of established medical care and endorsements of dozens of “alternative” theories and methods that I regard as worthless. Regarding teeth, for example, he claims on page 25 that “many diseases, once thought to be irreversible, may be alleviated by eliminating energy blocks. toxins, and ‘focal infections’ arising in the mouth.”

Research Activity

Hansen states that he “helped pioneer many advanced techniques for lasers in dentistry including FDA clinical trials for the use of lasers in hard tissue applications.” Searching PubMed, I found that he is one of five co-authors of a study of 120 patients done at five clinics, including his. Half of the patients were treated with the laser, the others with a high-speed drill. The authors reported that the dental laser was equal or better than the drill in caries removal, cavity preparation, and etching prior to acid etching [2]. Other researchers conducted trial in which more than 500 teeth were treated with no reported adverse events. In 1997, based on these studies, the FDA cleared the first laser for treating tooth decay, the Centauri Erbium Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (Er:YAG) laser system, marketed by Premier Laser Systems Inc. of Irvine, California) [3].

The Advanced Health Research Institute (AHRI), which Hansen founded, describes its mission as:

To engage in, and fund, Scientific Research in the field of human health based on natural principles of wellness; elevate the public and professional awareness in the field of natural health and healing; provide reports, pamphlets, books, and/or audio and video materials to educate the public and healthcare professionals; and provide funding for natural healthcare for people in need [4].

Since at least 2007, AHRI’s Web site has described five studies that Hansen would like to perform. However, I was unable to find any online evidence that these studies were carried out, and AHRI’s income does not appear to be sufficient to fund any of them. AHRI’s tax returns reported gross income of $29,203 for 2000, $40,886 for 2001, and $45,362 for 2002. The 2005 return reported contributions, gifts, and grants totaling $63,896 and a net loss of $49,046 from purchases and sales of “inventory”; but the report does not indicate the nature of the “inventory.” The 2006 return lists $76,212 in contributions, gifts, and grants and a $19,874 loss related to inventory sales [5] The major Web sites that archive tax returns do not have any others, and GuideStar states that AHRI’s exempt status was revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. The second (2002) edition of Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide (2002), to which Hansen contributed, states that Hansen established the AHRI “to help individuals locate laser dentistry practitioners nationwide.” [6].

Legal and Financial Trouble

Online records from the Orange County Superior Court indicate that since 1993, Hansen has sued about 20 times, including 10 suits for malpractice. Seven of the malpractice suits were filed between 1998 and 2002. One of these ended with a judgment against Hansen., but records from the rest are not available online.

  • In 2007, Hansen was sued by a 54-year-old woman who alleged that he had improperly fit veneers for which he had charged her $40,000 and had committed fraud by exaggerating his ability to do the work and improperly reassuring her that they had been properly fitted [7].
  • In 2010, Hansen and Yoon were sued for negligence by a former patient who alleged that they had failed to properly perform root canals, failed to treat infections that developed thereafter, improperly advised the patient about the nature and degree of the problems, and provided false assurance that his
    condition would improve with the care they were providing [8]. The suit was voluntarily dismissed shortly before a scheduled trial.
  • In 2011, Hansen and Yoon were sued by a woman who alleged that she was disfigured because they had improperly applied 10 veneers and had improperly failed to diagnose a tooth infection [9]. At trial, the jury awarded $17,163 against Hansen and $12,872.85 against Yoon plus costs of $5,289 [10].

In 2005, Hansen filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing assets of $389,871and liabilities of $852,581, including $465,940 owed for federal and $51,253 owed for state income taxes from 1996 through 1999 [11]. The bankruptcy trustee’s final report said that during the proceedings Hansen tried to conceal additional assets and use forged documents to bolster certain claims and that Hansen’s conduct was “the most egregious case of bankruptcy fraud” the trustee had ever encountered [12]. In 2012, Hansen was listed as 241st among California’s Top 500 Delinquent Taxpayers with $242,451 owed [13]. A California law gives the State the right to revoke professional and driver’s licenses unless the debtor enters into a satisfactory payment plan. Hansen’s dental license, which was up for renewal in February 2013, is now listed as “denied” on the California Dental Board site.

In 2000, Hansen registered an unincorporated nonprofit association called the Comprehensive Health Association (CHA). During the past few years, patients who wish to be treated by him or Yoon must join CHA and agree to its bylaws. And instead of paying Hansen and Yoon for their services, patients pay CHA, which, in turn, pays Hansen and Yoon. The by-laws state that no member can sue any member or the association without filing a grievance and going through an informal hearing, an administrative mediation, and a formal administrative hearing that would cost $750—all of which would be controlled by CHS’s (unidentified) leaders [14]. The obvious intent of these provisions is to discourage patients from suing Hansen and Yoon and any other providers who happen to be members. I don’t believe the contract is enforceable, but it might intimidate patients who are naive.

Disciplinary Actions

In 1994, Hansen was disciplined for failing to provide patient records. In 2012, the Dental Board of California charged Hansen and Yoon with negligently managing a patient who consulted them in 2007 and 2008 about problems with two teeth. The board’s complaint states:

  • After about a year of unsuccessful treatment, the patient obtained a periodontal consultation at Loma Linda University, was found to have obvious and severe periodontal disease, and had both teeth pulled.
  • Hansen and Yoon negligently failed to diagnose and treat the severe periodontal problem, failed to inform him that the probability of saving the teeth was small, and used “laser ozone disinfection” without informing the patient that it was experimental [15].

In April 2014, the Board amended its complaint to add Hansen’s treatment of another patient [16]. In September 2014, Hansen signed a stipulated agreement related to his management of this patient and agreed to pay $12,471.50 for investigative and prosecution costs and to serve on probation for three years. He was also prohibited from working for or contracting with his Comprehensive Health Association to provide sevices to California consumers [17].

The Bottom Line

Hansen is critical of standard medical and dental care and advocates a wide variety of methods that I believe are irrational and unsubstantiated. In my opinion, his professional and personal history cast doubt on both his character and professional competence.

  1. Richard T. Hansen, DMD, FACAD. Laser Dental Wellness Center Web site, accessed December 31, 2012.
  2. Pelagalli J, Gimbel CB, Hansen RT, Swett A, Winn DW 2nd. Investigational study of the use of Er:YAG laser versus dental drill for caries removal and cavity preparation—phase I. Journal of Clinical Laser Medicine and Surgery 15:109-115, 1997.
  3. FDA clears first laser for treating tooth decay. FDA news release, May 7, 1997.
  4. Our research projects. AHRI Web site, accessed Jan 7, 2013.
  5. Advanced Health Research Institute. Form 990 tax returns, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006.
  6. Laser dentistry: The healthy alternative to root canals. In Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. p 105.
  7. Complaint. Wendy A. Walker vs. Richard Hansen. Orange County Superior Court Case No. 07CC05147, filed April 20, 2007.
  8. Complaint. Ron Castillo vs. Richard Hansen, Andrew Yoon, et al. Orange County Superior Court Case No.30-2010-00374749, filed May 21, 2010.
  9. First amended complaint for damages. Shay Barton vs. Richard Hansen, D.D.S. et al. Orange County Superior Court Case No.30-2011-00504127, filed Jan 23, 2012.
  10. Judgment on jury verdict. Shay Barton vs. Richard Hansen, D.D.S. et al. Orange County Superior Court Case No.30-2011-00504127, filed March 22, 2013.
  11. Hansen RH. Voluntary petition. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California,Case No. 8:05-19595-RK, filed, Oct 11, 2005.
  12. Marshack RA. Trustee’s final report; application for fees and expenses; and report of proposed distribution. In re Richard T. Hansen, Debtor. U.S. Bankruptcy Court , Central District of California, Case No. 8:05-19595-RK, filed, Oct 2, 2008.
  13. Top 500 delinquent taxpayers. California Franchise Tax Board Web site, updated Dec 21, 2012.
  14. Comprehensive Health Association By-Laws, accessed January 8, 2013.
  15. Accusation. In the matter of the accusation against Richard Thomas Hansen, Jr. and Andy Sang Yoon. Before the Dental Board of California. Case No. DBC 2012-47, filed Nov 21, 2012.
  16. Amended complaint. the matter of the accusation against Richard Thomas Hansen, Jr. and Andy Sang Yoon. Before the Dental Board of California. Case No. DBC 2012-47, f
  17. Stipulated order. In the matter of the accusation against Richard Thomas Hansen, Jr. and Andy Sang Yoon. Before the Dental Board of California. Case No. DBC 2012-47, f

This article was revised on February 28, 2015.