New evidence is suggesting that wisdom teeth are removed more often than they should be, while opponents of the study claim that it’s all just a money grab from the organizations that funded it.
“In Britain when they started to apply some evidence-based criteria, the number of teeth they needed to remove dropped, and has remained relatively low over the past 10 years or so,” said Marc Tennant, professor at the University of Western Australia.
The “evidence-based criteria” he is referring to suggests that dentists simply monitoring how a person’s mouth reacts to wisdom teeth has lowered removal rates, saving the country a great deal of money in health care expenses over the past decade.
Wisdom teeth typically come in between the ages of 17 to 21, and for years, the standard protocol was to have them removed as a precautionary measure. This recent report is aiming to put an end to what the authors see as “unnecessary wisdom teeth removal.”
However, according to ABC Science News, Dr. Rick Olive, president of the Australian Dental Association, argues the findings of the study and dismisses the report as a “cost-saving exercise.”
“This is the argument that is used by those who seek to ration health care,” says Dr. Olive, who also claims there is not enough research to support evidence-based guidelines of wisdom teeth removal.
Dr. Olive believes that it should be up to patients, with input from their dentists, to decide if and when they want their wisdom teeth removed.
He notes that waiting too long to remove your wisdom teeth could cause added complications from the surgery, and the constant radiation from dental x-rays is unsafe and superfluous.
While the debate is being sorted out across the world, patients would be “wise” to consult with their own dentist to see what is best for them.