Jewish Perspectives on Dentistry versus Medicine
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Senior honors thesis / Open Access
Through the exploration of topics pertaining to potential differences between dentists and doctors in Jewish Law, overwhelming support favored their similarity to each other. Regarding the license to heal, both were not only permitted, but encouraged. Regarding treating emergencies on Shabbat and treating patients on Yom Tov, the Halacha did not differentiate. There were slight variations in perspectives with the interpretations of the phrase, “The best physicians are destined for hell,” some accordingly favoring dentistry over medicine, and others, vice versa. Regarding improving a patient’s aesthetics, if the cosmetic treatment contains a therapeutic component, whether physical or mental, Halacha approved dental treatment, as for plastic surgery. Regarding purely cosmetic treatments there was more uncertainty, but most likely a person qualifies for treatment according to Halacha and a dentist would be permitted to operate. The high suicide statistic has not yet been supported by significant compelling evidence, and while dentists are surrounded by suicide-inducing stresses, they are not necessarily more prone to suicide than are physicians. If physicians and dentists alike are God-fearing healers, who help treat patients professionally and in accordance with Jewish laws and ideals, Halacha encourages their work.
Kahn, T.R. (2021, April) Jewish Perspectives on Dentistry versus Medicine [Bachelor's honors thesis, Yeshiva University].
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