Is it ethical for dentists to wire jaws for weight loss?
Jaw wiring is traditionally used to treat fractures of the jaws but when jaw wiring is used for weight loss, it becomes an ethically questionable treatment modality. The ethics of jaw wiring for weight loss is normatively analysed using the philosophical theories of utilitarianism, principlism and deontology. Using utilitarianism, it is argued that the risks of jaw wiring for weight loss outweighs the benefits, concluding that it is unethical to wire jaws for weight loss. The principles of autonomy, beneficence, non maleficence, and justice are applied to the ethical dilemma of jaw wiring for weight loss. It is argued that autonomy is not absolute and that the principles of non maleficence, beneficence and justice trump the patient’s autonomous request when the request is not in the patient’s best interest. The scope of dental practice is critically analysed using the theory of deontology and it is argued that jaw wiring for weight loss falls out of the scope of dental practice when the dentist independently wires jaws for weight loss
A research report submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Masters of Science in Medicine (Bioethics and Health Law) to the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2021