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Dentists debate need to extract wisdom teeth

Last updated 2 years ago

Wisdom teeth or "third molars" are up to 4 hind teeth that usually come in during the late teens or early twenties (age 17-25). Removing them is often a regular part of growing up. But more and more people are starting to question if its always necessary. Wisdom teeth grow through the gums only partially, because there usually is not enough room in the jaw so they are considered "impacted" and can thus decay and cause plaque problems. Those who oppose sometimes say watching and waiting is best to see if the incoming teeth will cause a problem. Consulting a professional for x rays is also advised. As sometimes the wisdom teeth do no damage to the surrounding teeth and gum tissue. Americans spend about $3 billion a year removing wisdom teeth according to the American Public Health Association. The biggest predictability of having the procedure done is the "availability of insurance" says an APHA survey. "When dentists recommended removal, 55% of participants adhered to this recommendation during follow-up, and the main reason was availability of insurance (88%)," the survey states. To extract the wisdom teeth, depending on procedure complexity, position and where you live insured people might pay $300-600 on average per tooth according to to Jay Friedman a Dentist and consultant in Los Angeles who analyzed a survey of fees from the American Dental Association. "A person with good dental insurance might have to pay 20% of the fee out-of-pocket, as much as $320 to $500 for four wisdom tooth extractions," Friedman also added. Based on research from 2014 about 80% of dental extractions were for wisdom teeth. As in every surgery, including the most routine, there are risks. When doing the procedure you should know the benefits. If the tooth is not diseased it may be okay to leave it in. Most widom teeth extraction are done with a local anesthetic, with which the patient is awake and able to communicate with the doctor. A general anesthetic, leaves the patient unconscious is used too often and costs more, according to Friedman. "They [oral surgeons] like to give general anesthetic. It's a big money maker. You're making a lot of money giving general anesthesia or I-V sedation, even though you don't need it," says Friedman, adding that he has often removed wisdom teeth with a local anesthetic, such as Novocain. He adds most surgeons prefer local anesthetic as it is easier to work with. The one risk, he says, is if the mouth opens to wide, causing damage. As well as the possibility of nerve injury. For those who keep wisdom teeth, it is advised to be monitored closely by your dentist and yourself. So why did humans develop wisdom teeth? Scientists theorize early humans once put their wisdom teeth to good use, their diet being mainly roots, tough meat and raw food. The hard to eat food meant the human jaw had to work much harder to break down foods to swallow. And extra teeth helped complete this task. Scientists also believe at one time the human jaw was larger, allowing the wisdom teeth to grow in without problem. Source: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-wisdom-teeth-20150103-story.html

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