Sixth Session - Dentistry - Halachic Questions


Question posed by:       Representative from the Audience

Response by:                Rav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg

                                    Author of the Tzitz Eliezer (responsa)

                                    Winner of the Israel Prize and of the First                                                             International Prize for        Medicine and Halacha

1.    Until what age may orthodontic treatment be forced on children?

       When, and from what age, may the child refuse?

2.    Today there are dental implants made of artificial substances. The cost of such treatment is high (approximately twice the cost of a regular crown), and the chances of survival of the implant for longer than 10 years is around 20%.

       Question: Is it obligatory to inform the patient in advance of the low success rate?

       What level of detail must be provided when obtaining informed consent from the patient before commencing surgical orthodontic procedures which may be harmful?

3.    Urgent dental treatment on Shabbat

       A dento-alveolar abscess is dangerous. An infection of the nerve inside the pulp (pulpitis), on the other hand, which is a very painful condition requiring root treatment, causes severe and unbearable pain but presents no danger to life according to dentists.

       - May such a tooth be treated on Shabbat by performing an activity prohibited on Shabbat by the Torah?

4.    A tooth which has been damaged and dislodged on Shabbat may be rinsed and immediately reinserted,  or soaked in cold milk for a few hours and then inserted.

       - Is it permissible to reinsert the tooth on Shabbat, with the permanent fixture performed by the dentist after Shabbat?

- Is it also permissible to affix the tooth in its place on Shabbat? (Dentists affix the tooth using a filling substance made of "composite material.")