This Scam Dentists Employ to Get Easy Money, But It Has Nothing to Do With Your Teeth
Having your wisdom teeth removed is like a final rite of passage into true adulthood. Many people have it done in their late teens to mid-twenties, and many more experience complications during what is usually written off as a simple outpatient procedure; strange reactions to anesthesia, overdoses, choking and, in the worst cases, even death. Not to mention the painful recovery period that condemns people to a liquid diet for a week or more. If the removal of wisdom teeth poses so many dangers and leaves patients in pain for weeks, why do so many dentists recommend it?
The Truth About Wisdom Teeth Removal
Roughly 5 million Americans undergo wisdom teeth extraction surgery every year. That’s approximately 10 million teeth annually and according to WebMD, about 60 percent of those removals aren’t even necessary.
Many teenagers are told that they need their wisdom teeth removed to avoid complications and pain in early adulthood, but there are plenty of young adults who can attest that they’ve never had any pain from their wisdom teeth, yet their dentists were still adamant that they should be removed. Why is this?
Our wisdom teeth are a third set of final molars that many adults receive. When properly aligned, they are a valuable asset to the mouth and can assist in more thorough chewing, leading to smoother digestion. Many people never experience any pain from their wisdom teeth, but find that their dentists insist they need a surgery due to misalignment. What’s the real story behind wisdom teeth? Do they need removed at all, or is this just a scam dentists employ to get easy money?
Why Wisdom Teeth Need Removed
In some cases, wisdom teeth can cause pain and discomfort to the patient. If they truly grow in misaligned, they can place stress on the nerves, jawbone and cause crowding in the mouth, which can lead to pain and even damage of other teeth.
In other cases, patients have impacted wisdom teeth. When this happens, the third molars rest beneath the soft tissue of the mouth and/or jawbone. They may only partially break through the gums, and this exposure allows for bacteria to easily enter the tooth and cause infection. Patients with impacted wisdom teeth will also suffer from pain, swelling, stiffness and be susceptible to tooth decay and infection.
In these cases, wisdom teeth are removed to ensure a patient’s health and alleviate discomfort. But what about the 60 percent that don’t require extraction?
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The Wisdom Teeth Scam
Many dentists will see wisdom teeth during an X-Ray and tell patients that if they don’t have them removed, they will experience pain and be putting their other teeth at risk. Asymptomatic wisdom teeth – wisdom teeth that present no painful symptoms – are removed from millions of people every year without any true medical necessity. This is an expensive dental operation that costs thousands of dollars and poses dangerous health risks, yet dentists still call for it.
The greatest risk of wisdom teeth extraction is anesthesia complications. In a case in Maryland, the parents of 17-year-old Jenny Olenick sued both her dentist and his anesthesiologist for medical malpractice after she died during her outpatient procedure. According to details found in the civil suit, Olenick died after Dr. Domenick Coletti and anesthesiologist Dr. Krista Michelle Isaacs failed to resuscitate the teenager after her heart rate dropped and the oxygen levels in her blood depleted.
A spokesperson for the family said that they hope the case will shed light on the risks of this surgery as well as help bring attention to the need for oral surgeons and anesthesiologists to undergo emergency medical training before they can perform the procedure. The medical examiner revealed the cause of death to be hypoxia – a lack of oxygen in the blood that occurred while the patient was anesthetized. The blatant lack of monitoring and care on the dental staff’s behalf took a young girl’s life and cost her family a lifetime of grief. The worst part is that Jenny Olenick is just one of many people who have suffered grave consequences from having this unnecessary procedure.
The Bottom Line
In some cases, such as misalignment and impaction, a wisdom teeth extraction is necessary. In many others, however, dentists insist on patients undergoing this risky surgery solely for monetary gain. When it comes down to it, oral surgeons shouldn’t be placing profit over patients, and those who are being told to have a procedure when they experience no pain or symptoms should eagerly take their business elsewhere.
Although not everyone will be able to escape the dreadful act of having their wisdom teeth removed, many of us have a choice in the matter, despite what our dentists say.