By The Star Staff
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández confirmed Monday an ongoing investigation into people who engage in unlicensed orthodontic work.
“We confirm that the Puerto Rico Department of Justice is leading an investigation into people who allegedly perform orthodontic and aesthetic work illegally, without being duly authorized, exposing the health and integrity of residents on the island,” Emanuelli Hernández said in a written statement. “Anyone who is committing related crimes, exposes themselves to being criminally prosecuted.”
“We urge the injured persons or those who have evidence of the commission of this type of crime, to file a complaint with the Police Bureau,” he added. “You can also call 787.343.2020.”
Dental Surgeons Association President Raúl Ortiz Escalera warned citizens about the damage that can be caused by orthodontic work, such as braces, bleaching or veneers, known as “doggies,” performed by people without medical studies or licenses and which have become a trend on social networks.
“Offers of dental hooks and other orthodontic work by people with no medical training are a hoax,” Ortiz Escalera said. “They make promises of treatments for which they have neither a license nor the ability to deliver. They don’t follow infection control protocols, they don’t have medical equipment, such as a sterilizer and X-ray equipment, which are essential. In addition, they do not have the medical preparation to make an accurate diagnosis, nor provide a treatment that really meets the needs of the patient and, more importantly, that does not put their health at risk.”
He added that the professional association over which he presides has received information that illegal practices are carried out in houses, apartments and commercial spaces. However, social media ads do not tend to indicate the physical address of the people making the offers or who will be the health professional who will provide the service, until the interested parties make an appointment and give them a payment in advance.
Ortiz Escalera said oral interventions under such conditions can put people’s general health at risk, as they expose them to acquiring contagious diseases, such as hepatitis, AIDS and COVID, among others, as well as bone loss and even tooth loss. He gave the example of teeth whitening, which can cause inflammation, ulcers in the gums and damage to tooth enamel and nerves.
The physician noted that, in addition to the above, illegal “procedures” are performed without an examination, without X-rays or prior diagnosis by a professional doctor and can lead to cross-contamination of diseases, due to the lack of adequate sterilization of the instruments.
Ortiz Escalera added that dentists have at least eight years of studies and must obtain a license to practice the profession. He stressed that practicing dentistry without preparation is a serious offense and carries a fine and imprisonment. In view of this, he called on the Health Department to investigate the situations to which it has been alerted and accelerate the investigations that are already underway.
“In the past, cases have been brought at the local and federal level and those responsible have faced legal consequences for these practices, reaching convictions,” he added.
The dentist asked those who are interested in making a complaint to help in the investigation against the fake “orthodontists” to contact the Dental Surgeons Association through the Facebook page, at (787) 764-1969, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at the association’s office in San Juan, if they wish to file a complaint.