A lot of the patients who require emergency dentists in our Perth office visit us because of problems with their wisdom teeth. There is a bit of controversy in our profession at the moment about removing wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth usually erupt around 17 years of age. They can often become impacted. This means they are blocked by other teeth and can’t fully erupt into the mouth. They are often removed to eliminate the risk of gum inflammation, pain and decay.
The British Solution
In Great Britain, a group from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, is pushing their dentists to not remove wisdom teeth unless they become diseased. Their rationale is that the surgery can cause pain, bleeding, swelling, infection, damage to other teeth or nerve damage, affecting the patient’s ability to fully open their mouth.
In Australia, impacted wisdom teeth are still removed, at a rate of 527 per 100,000 people in 2008-2009. Professor Marc Tennant of the University of Western Australia and his research team calculated that Australians could save $420-513 million a year in direct and indirect costs by using the British system of “watchful monitoring,” which includes x-rays every two years.
What the Australian Dental Association (ADA) Recommends
The President of the ADA, Dr Rick Olive, doesn’t agree with Professor Tennant. Dr Olive believes that the British solution is just an exercise in cost-cutting and can have negative effects on dental health.
Dr Olive is now conducting his own research into wisdom teeth removal. He doesn’t believe that either “side” has enough research to produce what he calls “evidence-based guidelines.” His solution is to allow the patient to decide whether or not to keep the impacted wisdom teeth.
Dr Olive doesn’t like the practice of putting off wisdom teeth surgery because statistics show that an older person is more likely to suffer side effects from wisdom teeth removal than a younger person.
Call eDental Today
If you have any questions or you want to schedule a dental appointment, call eDental today: (08) 9361 1728.