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Health News Florida

'Polliwog' Dentist Keeps License

Saying “My heart is broken,” controversial Ocala pediatric dentist Michael Tarver told the Florida Board of Dentistry that he will leave the profession, even though he doesn’t have to, the Ocala Star-Banner reported (paywall alert).

 The dental  board, which met Friday in Gainesville, adopted a settlement allowing Tarver to keep his license and to resume practice if he had a dentist to monitor him -- someone other than his wife Rebecca, who is also a dentist and shared the Polliwog Dental practice.

But Tarver said he’d rather do something else; he said he had a license as a pilot and as a CPA. Meanwhile, Rebecca Tarver has changed the name of the practice to Churchill Dentistry.

The Florida Department of Health  issued an emergency suspension  of Tarver’s license   in September based on several reports of children being harmed. Tarver’s attorney Edwin Bayo said the charges were trumped up by a disgruntled employee.

But a majority of board members raised their eyebrows at the number of patients Tarver was seeing  -- according to the investigation, 120 a day, with as many as half of them being sedated. The Star-Banner reports that Tarver claimed that was an exaggeration, and that while he may have scheduled too many, he claimed he did it because most of his patients were insured through the state Medicaid program. He claimed that he and his wife were the only local dentists taking Medicaid. (A number of people who added comments to the Star-Banner article said that isn’t true, that their children on Medicaid go to other dentists in town. )

Another Polliwog rule that the DOH investigator had  questioned was that parents were not allowed to accompany their children into the treatment rooms. Michael Tarver said that was based on advice from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.  (Michael W. Davis, a dentist from Santa Fe, N.M., commented at the bottom of the Star-Banner article that in fact the academy encourages the opposite.)