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A Florida Man Faces Prison for Making Grills Without a License

Allen Turner didn't know his business was illegal until it was too late.

|||JaCrispy/Dreamstime.comJaCrispy/Dreamstime.comDental grills have been around for thousands of years—Vice reports that rich Etruscan women were fitting their teeth with gold as early as the seventh century B.C. The service was not carried out by a dentist but by a goldsmith. But in 2018, a Florida man faces charges for doing something similar without a dental license.

Allen Turner, 26, of Leesburg tells WFTV that he used to charge customers several hundred dollars to make custom grills. His business came to a screeching halt when he was visited by a Leesburg police officer and an investigator from the state Department of Health, who informed him that what he was doing was illegal. Florida's definition of dentistry practices includes the "taking of an impression of the human tooth, teeth, or jaws directly or indirectly and by any means or method," and so the molds Turner made to create his grills were unlicensed dentistry. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to stop.

He stopped, as ordered, but it was already too late. In September, the state attorney's office charged him with one felony count of practicing dentistry without a license and one misdemeanor count of public nuisance, saying that he turned his home into a "dental laboratory."

Turner says he was unaware that his actions were illegal: He had seen others doing the same thing and did not realize that a license was needed for the process. Police Lt. Joe Iozzi appeared to understand the confusion, saying, "I think people make assumptions when things are just cosmetic in nature—that it doesn't necessarily require licensing."

Turner was arrested and taken to the Lake County Jail, where he was later released on bail. He will have to appear in court October 22.

From the felony charge alone, Turner faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Ignorance of the law may be no excuse, as the saying goes, but it seems absurdly disproportionate that he might have to spend years among violent criminals for a nonviolent crime. And it's overzealous to punish him as though he had been attempting to diagnose patients or perform surgeries, cleanings, and other practices typical of a licensed dentist.

Civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate famously estimated that the average working professional unwittingly commits an average of three felonies a day. I'm sure Turner can relate.

Photo Credit: JaCrispy/Dreamstime.com

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  • Hugh Akston||

    To be fair, Florida is the sort of crime-free utopia where you can expect to see police resources wasted on petty code violations like this.

  • MSimon||

    I thought it was something serious - like BBQ grills.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Allen Turner, 26, of Leesburg tells WFTV that he used to charge customers several hundred dollars to make custom grills.

    You call them customers but I call them victims. Unwilling victims.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Gold grilles are a crime.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Florida's definition of dentistry practices includes the "taking of an impression of the human tooth, teeth, or jaws directly or indirectly and by any means or method..."

    Who knew all those years as a kid when I shoved a bunch of Bubble Yum in my mouth, bit into it and then pull it out to look at my teeth prints that I was being an unlicensed dentist.

  • ||

    Who knew all those years as a kid when I shoved a bunch of Bubble Yum in my mouth, bit into it and then pull it out to look at my teeth prints that I was being an unlicensed dentist.

    That was a terrible impression of a much funnier comment.

  • juris imprudent||

    That kind of thing can come back to bite you in the ass.

  • Untermensch||

    Paging Dr. West.

  • Don't look at me!||

    The judge won't be impressed.

  • OverWandersTelcon-tarian||

    saying that he turned his home into a "dental laboratory"

    Well, that, at least, seems like a legitimate charge. I mean, we all know how often those illicit teeth labs blow up. Can't even walk within 5 miles of a trailer park or disused grain silo in some parts of rural Florida without getting hit by a hurtling molar.

  • juris imprudent||

    Silly Florida Man, only meth labs are allowed to operate without a license.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    What state issues licenses for meth labs?

  • OverWandersTelcon-tarian||

    California, probably.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>doing something similar without a dental license

    ya. makes thimbles for teeth I can't believe this is a felony. what if i bring him my impressions from my dentist?

  • Don't look at me!||

    Now there is a law with some teeth in it.

  • Uncle Jay||

    How would like to buy a grill from someone who has been making grills all his life without a license?
    How do you know he doesn't know the boys from grills?

  • sharmota4zeb||

    You had to bring up the Pulse shooter, didn't you?

  • Uncle Jay||

    I hope he has a license.
    Otherwise I might think he doesn't know the difference between boys and grills.

  • newshutz||

    All those in FL convicted on bite mark evidence should appeal. If the forensic examiner was not a licensed dentist, then the evidence was illegally obtained.

  • Muzzled Woodchipper||

    I'm sure there's a loophole for agents of the state. Because reasons.

  • ||

    The term "dentistry" shall also include the following:
    (c) The placing of an appliance or structure in the human mouth or the adjusting or attempting to adjust the same.

    So using and fitting a mouthguard is illegal in Florida?

  • Rich||

    Florida's definition of dentistry practices includes the "taking of an impression of the human ... jaws directly or indirectly and by any means or method"

    So, when one makes a plaster/silicone/papier-mâché mask of a person's (dead, even) face one is practicing dentistry?

    Fuck these legislators who think they're so smart and precise.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    No, that would be embalming, and yes, that requires a license too.

  • Tony||

    Speaking of Florida, my parents' condo has a bulls-eye on it. Pray for the floral seat cushions!

  • Bart Drennon||

    You can get your own dental impression kit at walmart for > $10 with a do-it-yourself mouthguard. Same rubbery goop that dentists use.

  • wootendw||

    I hope the Institute for Justice will help this guy and put an end to this stupid law.

  • IceTrey||

    There's about 5 things in the law he falls under.

  • patskelley||

    He needs to adopt BillyBob tactics!

    http://www.billybobteeth.com/album.html

    Billy Bob Teeth are super realistic teeth made with the same acrylics used in making dentures. Designed by a dentist.
    One size fits all adults. HOW? Our teeth are held in place with putty you install yourself for a custom fit. This allows you to talk and fool anyone.

    Is Billy a dentist?

  • Toothfairy||

    This is the most ridiculous nonsense ever. Every single makeup or special effects artist in the state of Florida who has ever made any form of dental prosthetic for a movie or TV show would be guilty of practicing illegal dentistry under this statute. Practicing illegal dentistry involves doing something PERMANENT to the wearers teeth (cutting, grinding, filling removing etc.) This is no more than special effects dentistry which you see EVERY WEEK on shows like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead.

    The Florida State Dental Board should be ashamed of themselves for bringing this sort of crap to the courts.

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