10/19/2013 08:24 EDT | Updated 12/19/2013 05:12 EST

Rogue dentists operating in affordability gap, says clinic

The B.C. College of Dental Surgeons can't say how many rogue dentists are practising in B.C., but the head of a subsidized dental clinic in Vancouver says there are more people seeking low-cost or free dental care than his service can help.

Stephen Learey, executive director of the non-profit Strathcona Community Dental Clinic in Vancouver, says the need for affordable dental care always outstrips the supply.

"Patients are always looking for something more affordable. It's just plain expensive to get your teeth fixed," he said.

Families are coming in to the downtown Vancouver clinic from as far as Abbotsford, if they can get an appointment.

"We get calls on a daily basis, up to five calls from people who need dental care, who are looking for free dental care," he said.

Learey says he can understand why low-income people and immigrants are looking for cheaper dental care and he's not surprised that the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. are finding more illegal dentists.

This past week, the college investigated two more alleged illegal in-home dental clinics: On Wednesday, a raid was conducted at a home in East Vancouver and last Friday, a Coquitlam home was also raided.

Neighbour thought it was a grow-op

CBC News has found that the owner of the Coquitlam home has the same last name as a dentist the college in 2006 ordered to stop operating. At that time, the college found that Vladimir Shapoval was practising illegal dentistry.

Neighbour Robert Krully told CBC News he had no idea that just down the block was an illegal dentist practice.

"Initially, we thought it was a grow-op. At least now we're hearing it's dental. Now if I had known, I would have gotten cheap dental," he joked.

'Bedroom dentist' still missing

The investigations follow the high-profile prosecution of David Wu, an alleged illegal dentist who was sentenced to three months in jailin absentia for contempt of court by the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

- Read more about the case of David Wu

The college has spent more than $100,000 trying to find Wu, who was operating out of Burnaby.

His home practice so concerned the Fraser Health Authority that it urged Wu's patients to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis C, but after more than 500 tests were done, none of Wu's former patients have tested positive for any infections.

Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal health authorities say they are waiting for the college to determine whether public health alerts needs to be issued in relation to the most recent raids.

The college says its investigations are in the preliminary stages, and no further comment on the cases will be made at this time.