Contrary to popular belief, most people don’t need their wisdom teeth removed. In fact, wisdom teeth clearly serve a purpose when you study them from an anthropological point of view.
In previous Daily Dispatches, I have mentioned my science background in anthropology. In my experience, we know a lot about human biology from anthropology. That’s especially true when it comes to bones and teeth.
By contrast, in my medical school training, we learned nothing about bone or dental anatomy, physiology or pathology. The bones to study sat over in a box in the corner — if anyone had the time or interest to find them.
As a consequence, mainstream doctors suffer from widespread ignorance of basic bone biology. Their ignorance, in turn, leads to a willingness to “build bones” by prescribing dangerous drugs that are toxic and kill key bone cells. (See the January 2015 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter for more information about these toxic drugs.) They also push expensive orthopedic procedures that are nothing more than high-cost carpentry.
The ignorance when it comes to teeth is even more shocking.
Two-thirds of wisdom tooth extractions are completely unnecessary
Modern dentistry continues to present the ill-informed impression you don’t need your third molars (wisdom teeth).
Ever wonder why?
General dentists and oral surgeons make a good practice routinely removing “wisdom teeth.” It results in about 10 million extractions from about five million people per year — at an annual cost of over $3 billion in the U.S. alone.
Patients endure more than 11 million days of discomfort and disability from this brutal procedure that causes bruising, malaise, pain, swelling, and temporary incapacity. And more than 11,000 people suffer permanent nerve injury resulting in long-term, or life-long, numbness in the cheek, lip and tongue.
What’s worse — more than two-thirds of these terrible procedures are completely unnecessary.
Almost all dentists, maxillofacial surgeons, and oral surgeons advocate this brutal, dangerous and usually useless procedure. They claim all third molars that haven’t fully erupted are “impacted.” They say they must be removed from healthy young people to prevent third-molar disease, infection, or pathology. But no evidence suggests the third molars typically cause these problems if left untouched.
Vast majority of impacted wisdom teeth never cause problems
First, half of upper third molars classified prematurely as “impacted” are simply normally developing teeth that will eventually erupt if a surgeon doesn’t rip them out of the mouth before they’re ready. Furthermore, evidence indicates only 12 percent of molars considered “impacted” will ever show any pathological condition, or ever cause any damage to adjacent teeth.
When I was a young adult and had “impacted” third molars, I had already learned a lot about teeth from my studies in anthropology. But my dentist lectured and hectored me about having my wisdom teeth removed. I didn’t have the time, money, or inclination to undergo such a wasteful procedure. I asked the dentist for the science. But all he had was myth, superstition and his own economic interest. He lost a patient and I lost a dentist.
When dentists subject their poor, young patients to this torture, they practice some form of superstitious belief system — not science.
In fact, a classic review published in the American Journal of Public Health actually argues the “preventative” extraction of third molars is a public health hazard.
This classic review article demonstrated the many myths “embedded” in this needless, widespread procedure:
Myth #1: Third molars are typically “diseased”
As I mentioned earlier, evidence links just 12 percent of third molars with any pathological outcomes. But even a single occurrence of one of these pathological conditions is no reason to have the molar extracted right away. Often — with some patience — the problem safely resolves itself…which brings us to the second myth.
Myth # 2: Extracting third molars sooner, rather than later is better
Turns out, research shows early removal of third molars in adolescents and young adults is more painful and traumatic than simply leaving the teeth alone — especially if they don’t show any problems, pathologies or symptoms. In fact, common complications, such as dry socket, infection, and numbness are more likely to occur in persons 12 to 24 years compared to persons 35 to 83 years old. And people aged 25 to 34 years old have the highest complication risk of anyone.
Myth #3: Un-erupted third molars cause “crowding” of other teeth
It’s physically impossible for un-erupted teeth to crowd other teeth.
Myth # 4: Wisdom tooth removal carries little risk
As I mentioned above, wisdom tooth extractions do cause plenty of complications. Common complications include dry socket, infection and numbness.
Tell your dentist or oral surgeon to leave their myths about teeth for the “tooth fairy,” and to leave our wisdom teeth alone too. That would show some real wisdom.
- “The Prophylactic Extraction of Third Molars: A Public Health Hazard,” Am. J. Public Health, 2007 September 97 (7): 1554-1559