Dentist seizes defaulter's teeth

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The Independent Online
STOCKHOLM (AP) - Pizzeria owner Ridha Bouhlal has not been able to sample his wares for four months because a dentist is holding his false teeth in lieu of payment. "For four months I've been living on pasta and soup," Mr Bouhlal was yesterday quoted as saying by the Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet.

Mr Bouhlal, of Kungsoe, 75 miles west of Stockholm, decided in 1996 to have his removable dentures replaced with false teeth attached to screws implanted in the jaw. His restaurant was doing well and he foresaw no problem paying the bill of about pounds 3,125. However, his restaurant receipts began falling. When he went in for the final adjustment to the implants in the lower jaw, the dentist took out the teeth, fearing the bill might not be paid.

Mr Bouhlal is not eligible for help from social welfare because he is a private businessman and assistance could be considered by competing pizzerias as unfair, a social services official said. But Olof Edhag, an official at the national welfare board, disagreed. "Everybody should have functioning teeth in Sweden," he said.