Gainesville dentist receives award for work with special needs patients.

Health Equity Hero Ward
Health Equity Hero Ward(wcjb)
Published: Sep. 26, 2020 at 9:47 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A Gainesville dentist and UF professor of Dentistry has received an award for his more than 30 years of dealing with the industry’s most difficult patients, those with special needs.

It’s called a Health Equity Hero award and comes with a $5000 dollar donation to a charity of the winner’s choice. Dr. Timothy Garvey won for his work with disabled and underprivileged patients.

“Most of the people we take care of they can’t communicate with you easily,” said Dr. Garvey. “Most won’t do things like sit in a dental chair or allow you to perform the things you would do in a regular dental setting easily.”

“He gets the ones that are thrashing, biting down and can’t follow instructions,” said Douglas Manning who presented the award on behalf of Dentaquest. “The patients that need anesthesia sedation and extra time. They need a caring touch to treat them so he gets the most difficult patients anyone will see in the profession.”

Dr. Garvey chose to donate to freeDOM Clinic USA which offers free dentist clinics for people who can’t afford basic procedures.

“He does all this work with special needs populations as his job but then he takes his Saturday and volunteers in the community on top of it,” said Manning.

The newest challenge for Dr. Garvey is learning to navigate a pandemic which shut down all but emergency procedures for months.

“I don’t know if there’s a profession that has been impacted more severely by the COVID crisis than dentistry because the things we do could potentially spread the virus. In six months' time, it has changed so radically that if I had someone tell me this a year ago I’d say you’re crazy.”

Manning says they have made strides to make the entire industry safer, especially at reducing drilling which causes potentially harmful particles to be released into the air.

“Ones called silver diamine fluoride that you paint on the tooth and it stops decay and you don’t have to drill. There’s also non-traumatic types of fillings that don’t require a lot of drilling and then teledentistry and telehealth in general.”

Dr. Garvey says during COVID he has been working closely with UF Health to get access to operating rooms he must-have for his patients with special needs because most need to be sedated to receive care.

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