Over the last four fiscal years, the Unlicensed Activity (ULA) Unit of the Department of Health has received 209 complaints against unlicensed dentists. These complaints have resulted in 42 cease and desist notices, 113 referrals to law enforcement and 41 arrests. Many of these type cases are headliners, some even getting national attention.
There was the recent case of the 14 year old girl whose mother took her to the 81 year old “backyard dentist,” Humberto Perez, who police said disfigured the girl when she needed a tooth repaired. Another case, “Operation Tooth Fairy,” involved a Davie man, John Collazos, who practiced dentistry in a warehouse. He was the third person since June who had been arrested on charges of practicing dentistry without a license. In June, Jorge Romero-Paredes, 57, of Hollywood was arrested after he performed oral surgery at a woman’s trailer home causing the woman to undergo further surgery after her mouth became severely infected. The unlicensed practice of a health care profession or the performance or delivery of health care services to residents and visitors in Florida without a valid, active license to practice is strictly prohibited.
The ULA protects Florida residents and visitors from the potentially serious and dangerous consequences of receiving dental care from an unlicensed person. Anonymous complaints can be investigated if the complaint is in writing and if detailed information is supplied. If a violation is confirmed, the law states that this is a third degree felony as provided in s. 775.082, F.S., and a fine of $5000 per incident cited can be assessed. If you suspect unlicensed practice of dentistry, call the ULA hotline at 1-877-HALT-ULA (1-877-425-8852) or visit the ULA Web Page. You can verify licensure status online through the Health Professionals License Lookup at www.FLHealthsource.gov. A search can be performed by last name, business name, profession, county, or license number.