June 03, 2014

Should All Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

Third Molars Present

When trained in dental school, the idea that all wisdom teeth (third molars) needed to be prophylactically removed was just accepted.  But, of course, millions of patients live their entire lives with their third molars present, even though orthodontists seem to want them out of the way, and having your wisdom teeth removed seems like it is a high school rite of passage.

Now that dentistry is relying on evidence-based (relying on facts, statistics) decisions in diagnosis and treatment, there are studies regarding whether to remove wisdom teeth.  A current article in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) offers a guide to systematically classify the presence of symptoms or disease attributable to the third molar and can be used as an indicator for extraction.

The guide cautions, however, that an asymptomatic third molar does not mean the absence of disease.  It recommends active surveillance, a prescribed program of followup, and reassessment at regular intervals rather than waiting for the onset of symptoms.

Source:  JADA, vol. 145, no. 6, 570-573

Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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