A Texas dentist who is known for his brash, edgy humor on social media, where he has hundreds of thousands of followers, is being accused of bullying and sexual harassment by several women who say they received inappropriate messages from his official social media accounts.
Kenneth Wilstead, who goes by @DrKennySmiles on Instagram and @DrKennySmilesOfficial on TikTok, often shares his “smile makeovers” on social media. The videos typically show a person in his dentist chair discussing how their teeth got to the state they’re in, and then the video cuts to the patient gazing at their new, perfect smile. The videos rack up hundreds of thousands of views on platforms like TikTok, where Wilstead has more than 700,000 followers, and on Instagram, where he has more than half a million followers.
But on Aug. 31, when Wilstead shared a callout for a new reality show, some online started to raise their concerns about how he treats his female patients, as well as women who seek out his dental help.
NBC News spoke with four women about their experiences with Wilstead, who is 43. Two women who were prospective patients said they received sexually explicit messages sent from his account, but never met with him in person. Another woman said she received bullying messages from his account on social media. A fourth woman said she filed a complaint against him after he swore at her and told her that her dental problems were in her head.
Last year, a patient of Wilstead’s sued him for medical malpractice, claiming he touched her inappropriately. A jury trial is scheduled for the case, according to a 14th District Court docket.
Wilstead is the only dentist listed under the “About us” page on the website for his practice, Smile Again Dental. It’s unclear whether other dentists work there.
In a lengthy email statement to NBC News on Friday, Wilstead said, “I have staff who help handle my social media.”
“The character I play both online and in my office has been something I have used to break the tension of a stressful experience and unfortunately sometimes people who don’t have full context feel like I cross(ed) the line and it’s their right to have their own opinions,” he wrote. “I respect that right.”
However, he said he believes “The current situation stems from a blowup of a few written comments.”
In regards to the legal action being taken against him, he said “a woman is suing me and falsely accusing me of touching or grabbing her buttocks.” He wrote that he is “totally innocent of any inappropriate touching of that woman.”
A spokesperson for Meta said it removed two of Wilstead’s videos on Instagram after receiving a request for comment from NBC News, saying the videos violated the platform’s community guidelines. The spokesperson also said that, after reviewing Wilstead’s account, it has placed him on a short-term ban from using Instagram Live, citing repeated rule-breaking.
A spokesperson for TikTok did not provide NBC News with a comment about Wilstead’s content.
‘Clothing optional,’ read a message from Wilstead’s account
Taylyn Peaco was one of the first people to speak out on TikTok about Wilstead allegedly being sexually inappropriate in messages. Her video gained traction this week after it was shared by Ophelia Nichols, often referred to as “Mama Tot” on TikTok.
Nichols, who has more than 12 million followers on the platform, had previously elevated Wilstead’s content after the dentist offered to fix for free a tooth she’d broken. In her first video about him, which is no longer on the platform, she suggested Wilstead offer his services to someone more in need. He later fixed the teeth of three people for free.
Peaco, 27, told NBC News that she had jumped at the opportunity for a free smile makeover because in the past she had been quoted as needing $60,000 worth of dental work. She posted an audition video, then messaged Wilstead on Instagram.
You took my most vulnerable moment and one I would never post online, and that was that supposed to be funny?
At first, Peaco received a message that said Wilstead would respond to her shortly. Then she received a follow-up message that appeared to be from Wilstead himself, in which he explained he would be traveling to potential patient’s homes to decide if they were right for his show. NBC News has reviewed the messages.
“Please send me 10 more pictures of your size shape and stuff like that please. This show is about a lot of things beyond teeth. So that will help me,” the message read, adding, “Clothing optional,” along with a skull emoji.
“You took my most vulnerable moment and one I would never post online, and that was that supposed to be funny?” Peaco said, adding that she felt taken advantage of by Wilstead’s alleged remark.
Annely Timmerman, 32, said she was inspired to come forward after seeing others, including Peaco, share their experiences.
Timmerman was one of the makeover hopefuls who posted an audition to TikTok, seeking to become a patient of Wilstead. In the audition video, Timmerman cries as she describes the genetic condition she suffers from, called oligodontia, which results in missing teeth.
After posting her video, Timmerman realized that Wilstead followed her on Instagram. She sent him a direct message asking if he had seen her video and apologized for being an “ugly crier.” A response from Wilstead’s verified account, which has been viewed by NBC News, reads, “Just wanted to have sex with you. It’s fine.”
“My message from him had sat in my Instagram messages for a couple of days before I ever said anything about it, because it is intimidating,” she said. “Of course I wanted to be like, ‘Who the hell does this guy think he is?’ but he has such a huge platform.”
In response to the “clothing optional” message allegation, Wilstead referred to his staff.
“We were running a contest and one of them made the comment ‘clothing optional,’ knowing how I sometimes joke with my patients,” he wrote. “The same is true of the comment that I wanted to have sex with the woman who called herself ‘ugly.’ It was a misjudgment of my staff trying to impersonate the way they thought I might speak. I don’t defend either of the statements which were in poor taste.”
He also said his patients know that he makes videos and use their photos before and after to show results “because they sign off on my right to do so. Again, this is no problem for almost all of my patients.”
In the aftermath of Timmerman and Peaco’s videos, many began resurfacing some of Wilstead’s previous content and saying how his behavior in some of his videos is problematic.
In an Aug. 17 video on his Instagram page, Wilstead is heard making a joke about his sex life to a 90-year-old patient and the people who came in with her. In a Sept. 11 video on Instagram, he calls a patient’s teeth “disgusting.” A spokesperson for Meta said that it removed the Sept. 11 video after a request for comment made by NBC News.
Formal disciplinary actions have been issued to Wilstead in the past
The Texas Board of Dental Examiners lists three disciplinary actions on Wilstead’s license page. The discipline took place in 2015, 2019 and 2021.
The 2015 action stemmed from Wilstead prescribing controlled substances for nondental reasons, according to an agreed settlement order. Wilstead was required to pay a fine, take continued education courses and surrender his Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Safety permits for controlled substances, among other punishments.
The 2019 disciplinary action stemmed from an incident in which Wilstead was found to have not provided the minimum standard of dental care, which included failing to do periodontal probing as well as failing to take cementation radiographs while fitting crowns on two teeth. The board also found Wilstead failed to keep and maintain proper records and abandoned a patient, according to an agreed settlement order.
The final disciplinary action states again that Wilstead failed to provide the minimum standard of care, failed to maintain proper records and failed to provide the board with a business record affidavit, according to an agreed settlement order.
The Texas Board of Dental Examiners declined to comment on the allegations against Wilstead or the nature of his content. The Texas Board of Dental Examiners, which oversees disciplinary action as well as licensing, said it could not disclose the number of complaints. It’s unclear how many complaints have been filed against Wilstead in total.
However, the board referred NBC News to the public license search portion of its website, where disciplinary action is viewable.
Amanda Moore, 43, was a complainant behind the 2019 agreed settlement order. Her complaint stemmed from a Feb. 1, 2017 appointment. Moore, who says she suffers from debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder, said she had begun visiting a practice in which Wilstead worked at the time, for care she could not afford at her regular dentist.
In a complaint dated Feb. 25, 2017, which was sent via email to the Texas Board of Dental Examiners in an email dated March 5, 2017, Moore claims Wilstead exploded at her after she came to his office worried about a dark spot on her teeth.
In her complaint, Moore says Wilstead told her, “I can’t believe you’re here wasting my f—— time” and told her the dark spot on her teeth was “in your f—— head.”
The 2019 agreed settlement order states that part of the disciplinary action is being sanctioned because Wilstead “abandoned” a patient on Feb. 1, 2017 — the date Moore included in her complaint as the day of her appointment with Wilstead.
“Who would find this ethical? I mean, doctors and dentists have to take the Hippocratic Oath,” Moore said. “This is despicable.”
Wilstead said all three disciplinary actions “were for minor situations” and “have been expunged.”
“I learned from each situation,” he wrote in his statement.
Last year, Wilstead was sued for medical malpractice by a woman who alleged that he made inappropriate comments and groped her buttocks. She also alleged in the lawsuit that she saw photos taken of a different patient’s cleavage, according to the lawsuit. That case is ongoing. The plaintiff in the case declined to comment to NBC News.
In addition to generally denying the woman’s allegations, regarding the inappropriate photos of her chest, Wilstead said “this is the first time I have heard that false accusation.”
Woman previously seeking dental work calls Wilstead ‘vile’
Lauren Spaulding, 30, said she felt bullied by Wilstead when she reached out seeking dental treatment in February, after losing teeth during two pregnancies.
In their exchange, which was viewed by NBC News, Spaulding sent him images of her teeth and asked for an estimate. When she misunderstood a message about the quote, he allegedly called her a “dips—.”
Spaulding said she later fell into a depression after her interaction with Wilstead, lost her job, began taking antidepressants and struggled with suicidal ideation.
“It just takes one harsh word to make someone go over the line,” Spaulding said. “It could just take someone as vile as him pushing someone over the edge, you know?”
She and the other women said they hope that by speaking out others won’t be subjected to the misbehavior they’ve experienced.
“What if I was like a little 19-year-old and more brittle and more vulnerable?” she said. “That’s the part that gets me.”
In his email statement, Wilstead said he doesn’t “recall” the incident Spaulding alluded to.
“If someone wants to complain now to be part of the vocal minority on social media to make them feel like they are part of something, I get it,” he wrote. “That is the nature of the society we live in. It seems like a feeding frenzy of people wanting to join the Hate Dr. Kenny Club & that is their right.”
However, he said he is “disheartened by this situation.”
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