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Jeweler's gold grill business to lose its luster

A maker of gold grills is closing his shop after his stepson is arrested for running his own.

Published December 17, 2005

TAMPA - Last week, Paul Faucette was king of gold grills.

From Largo to Sarasota, demands for his work at Paul's Gold Grills poured in.

Everyone wanted the ornamental gold teeth he made; the kind popularized by rappers like Nelly and Paul Wall.

But no more. This week, Faucette said he's done with grills.

On Tuesday, a day after the St. Petersburg Times published a story about Faucette, his stepson, Edward D. Wilcox, 33, of Plant City, was arrested at his own grills shop in Bradenton and charged with practicing dentistry without a license, a felony.

Faucette said he and Wilcox never touch a client's teeth.

"I'm a jeweler," Faucette said this week. "I don't get into anybody's mouth."

But according to Florida law, however, taking an impression of a person's teeth, even indirectly, constitutes "dentistry."

So does manufacturing something meant to be worn in the mouth, like a grill.

To make a grill, jewelers like Faucette and Wilcox first give their customers trays of a molding material to bite down on, taking an impression of their teeth.

Later they pour plaster into the hardened molds to make a copy of the customer's teeth and use that to fashion the gold grill that customers can snap over their teeth like a retainer.

Dentists say jewelers who make grills are putting their clients at risk of mouth disease and dental damage.

"A jeweler is a million miles away from a dental professional and could do some real damage by placing restorations over diseased teeth," said Gale Pittman, a St. Petersburg dental hygienist.

"What is the sterilization standard in the office?" she asked. "Is he using sterile techniques when he is giving out the grills to the patients? Is he spreading disease?"

Other jewelers have been arrested for making grills or gold caps. In 2003, St. Petersburg jewele r Farkat Khodhair was arrested on three felony counts of practicing dentistry without a license. The case was dismissed, court records show.

Faucette says he disagrees with the state law.

"They say I'm practicing dentistry," Faucette said. "I think it's just practicing jewelry."

But after his stepson's arrest, Faucette said he has shut down his grill business.

He had been swamped with callers who had read the Times story and wanted a grill of their own. Last week, he started turning them away.

He said he was worried about undercover deputies, like the one who ordered a grill from his stepson before arresting him.

"They obviously want to shut down everybody doing it," he said. "I'm not doing it anymore."

Jalisa Fitzgerald, 16, of Clearwater was disappointed.

She wanted the flash of gold on her teeth. After she read about Faucette, she was set to order a grill from him.

She said she didn't think the state law was fair.

"I don't think it's right," she said. "It's not like you're getting something done that a dentist would do, like cleaning your teeth or getting braces. You're just getting a gold grill."

[Last modified December 17, 2005, 01:00:13]

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