When I was growing up my dentist mentioned to be about the possibility of getting my wisdom teeth removed. However, he never said it was something I had to do until I was 20. At this point in my life I didn’t question him, as he showed me the panoramic x-ray. About a month later, I was walking outside and I noticed severe pain in my mouth. One of my wisdom teeth was coming in through the gum. It was at that time that I thought maybe my dentist was right. I made an appointment with an oral surgeon.
Looking back, I am not sure why I didn’t do more research and why I didn’t question my dentist and oral surgeon. Although many people choose extraction it might be a bad decision. Writing in the journal, Health Policy and Ethics, retired US dentist, Dr Jay Friedman is scathing about the unnecessary prophylactic removal of wisdom teeth, which he labels a public health hazard.”At least two thirds of these extractions, associated costs, and injuries are unnecessary, constituting a silent epidemic of iatrogenic injury that afflicts tens of thousands of people with lifelong discomfort and disability”, he writes.
According to Friedman, there just is no evidence to justify preventative surgery, although it does line the pockets of the dental profession, especially oral and maxillofacial surgeons who earn on average over half a million US dollars a year from the forty minute procedure. That is a lot of money and may be the reason why there is still such a push in the US for wisdom teeth extractions. According to Dr. Friedman, instead of evidence, misinformation and myths drive the multibillion-dollar industry, one of the most common being that wisdom teeth have a high level of pathology, whereas in reality no more than 12% of impacted teeth are affected. This is similar to the incidence of appendicitis yet we don’t routinely remove other organs just in case. Dr. Friedman also states neither is it true that the pressure of erupting wisdom teeth causes crowding of other teeth, saying it’s just not possible for one tooth which develops in spongy superficial bone with little firm support to push over 14 other well-implanted teeth.
In Europe, the madness has ended. In fact, the National Institute for Clinical Evidence has gone so far as to tell dentists and oral surgeons to stop removing healthy impacted wisdom teeth due to the risk of nerve damage. In addition, third molar extractions are far from harmless, with atleast sixteen known complications including infection, permanent paraesthesia, dry socket, trismus, and death.
Dr. Friedman states, far from the standard of care, prophylactic extraction is a silent epidemic. I agree and feel that it is time for something to be done in the US about this. The evidence to remove wisdom teeth just is not there and instead is causing people lifelong pain and suffering that never should have happened.