In about 1999 I had a wisdom tooth removed because the gum had gotten infected, inflamed, and painful. The dentist suggested I get all of my wisdom teeth out “because it would be better in the long run.” I declined, just getting the one tooth removed.
In about 2003 I had a new dentist after moving. I remember the intake form had this on it:
Do you still have your wisdom teeth?
Yes | No
If so, why?
The answer I wrote was “because I use my teeth to chew my food“. Of course, the intake form question lead to a discussion with the dentist. I had this crazy belief that nature wouldn’t create a system where every human was better off if they had four serious dental surgeries as a matter of course.
I was incensed. This question, delivered by a board certified professional dentist practically stated that it was wrong of me to have wisdom teeth. The follow-up is of course, “…and you know, we can fix that problem for you.” It’s like bringing your car in for an oil change and having the mechanic tell you that your confabulator needs realigning, and if you don’t get it done soon, well, who knows what will happen! I’m allergic to professionals using Fear, uncertainty, and doubt on me. I didn’t go back. I thought about blogging about it back then but who has time for that junk?
Well, I just came across this article more-or-less confirming my suspicions. It says about 2/3 of wisdom teeth shouldn’t be removed. But don’t believe the article, believe the links the author shows us…
- The Prophylactic Extraction of Third Molars: A Public Health Hazard, in the American Journal of Public Health. 2007 September; 97(9): 1554—1559. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.100271
- The British National Health Service saying, “Your wisdom teeth don’t usually need to be removed if they’re impacted but aren’t causing any problems. This is because there’s no proven benefit of doing this and it carries the risk of complications.”
And here is a VERY curious article I found in the Cochrane database (Cochrane is awesome, it’s like the Consumer Reports of research, they look for and help create systematic review research because it is so much better than individual studies).
- Surgical removal versus retention for the management of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth. – In brief, they couldn’t find any good research on whether it was better to leave wisdom teeth in or take them out preemptively. Something is very fishy there!
PS, Great thanks to the folks at The Daily Digg for putting the original article in my inbox, with the title of Wisdom Tooth Removal Is A Racket. The Daily Digg is one of my major sources of curated news right now. They practically hide the link to join their mailing list so… sign up here.