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The Wisdom of Removing Wisdom Teeth

Oct 04, 2016

By Dean George

Here’s a nugget of wisdom recently announced: little research exists that confirms any benefit from extracting wisdom teeth that are not causing pain or other problems.

In other words, of the thousands of symptom-free wisdom teeth pulled each year, it is unclear whether the benefits outweigh the risks, according to a new review of existing research.


Wisdom teeth, or third molars, generally emerge between ages 17 and 26 and often wedge against second molars due to limited space. This overcrowding can often cause tooth decay, root damage, tooth decay or periodontal issues.

Of the limited studies available on the subject, researchers focused their pearlies of wisdom on comparable outcomes such as the probability of dental problems after disease-free wisdom teeth were removed or retained.

In two studies conducted by U.S. and United Kingdom (U.K.) researchers, the two teams arrived at different results.

A U.S. study involving 416 healthy men found that those retaining their impacted wisdom teeth may have a higher risk for gum disease in the long-term compared to those who had them removed, or had no wisdom teeth at all.

Conversely, a similar study in the U.K. found no evidence among 164 participants of notable differences of dental problems between those who retained their wisdom teeth or those that had them removed. Neither study accounted for cyst or tumor formation, bleeding, nerve damage or infection.

Common risks involved with wisdom teeth surgery include infection, bleeding for around 24 hours, tooth socket inflammation called dry socket, and temporary nerve injury due to injury or inflammation that may affect the lip and chin.

More studies are needed in order to examine the potential risks of retaining wisdom teeth, but it is likely that dentists and oral surgeons will continue recommending the procedure for young adults until studies convince them otherwise.

Bonus fact full of worldly wisdom: Dental fee schedules often refer to wisdom teeth as impacted teeth. Wisdom teeth surgery is covered under the standard dental codes D7220, D7230, D7240 and D7241.  

All of the dental plans at Dental Insurance Store cover wisdom tooth extractions. To see plans available in your area, click here.

Sources: Reuters, foxnews.com, WedMD.com
Photo source: kosovalive360.com


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