Getting your wisdom teeth out, it's one of the most common surgical procedures for teens. But it's also a hotly debated topic as some are starting to question whether they really need to go.
When Tara Kwilecki's dentist originally suggested she remove her wisdom teeth, she resisted.
She says, "I didn't really want to have them taken out because they weren't hurting me."
She's not alone. More and more health advocates are abandoning the idea that wisdom teeth have routinely got to go.
The logic? "We don't remove everyone's appendix so 'why not wait till there's a
problem?' is a question that's often asked," says Dr. Louis Rafetto, with the American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
Dr. Rafetto led a task force on the topic. He says by leaving your teeth in you're risking issues later in life. “Waiting until they notice that there's a problem is really waiting until the problem has already caused some damage. This would be like
saying if we know somebody has high blood pressure should we wait until they start to have symptoms?"
Dr. Rafetto claims the vast majority of people will run into problems with their wisdom teeth.
He says, "The longest term study which was done in Finland would indicate that 80% of people over an 18 year period had to have their wisdom teeth removed because they had developed problems."
Other research indicates the numbers are actually much lower. One review shows the number of extractions could be cut by 60% if only done when patients were in pain or developed a condition.
Dr. Raffato says the technology has improved so much doctors can now predict who will have damage. Putting off the inevitable will only make things worse, just ask Tara.
She says, "I started getting headaches, I started feeling a lot of pressure around my jaw and in my head."
So she did have them taken out. It took a few days to heal, but she is glad to have it over with.
She says, “I have a great peace of mind that my wisdom teeth are out and I never have to deal with them again."
If your dentist suggests removing your wisdom teeth, find out why. Ot's an easier decision to make if there is a visible problem or you are in pain.
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