According to the American Association for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, having wisdom teeth removed during the teenage years not only improves dental and oral health, but may also reduce the chance of illness later in life.
In the latest The Wealthy Dentist Survey on wisdom teeth removal, a Massachusetts dentist responded, “I am constantly amazed at how often I encounter problems due to wisdom teeth that were not extracted. These include periodontal and restorative issues which often compromise the second molar. And surgery in the 40 to 60-year-old is not the same as for a young patient.”
When asked if impacted wisdom teeth automatically should be removed, 60% of the dentists surveyed felt they should usually be removed, but not always. Many expressed concern that this is a skilled procedure where dentists need to have experience in the removal of wisdom teeth.
“The decision to remove wisdom teeth depends on the GP’s surgical experience, training and skill level,” advised one dentist.
21% of the dentist respondents believe impacted wisdom teeth need to always be removed, while 19% thought impacted wisdom teeth should not be removed.
But when asked if GPs can handle the removal of impacted wisdom teeth, 30% of the dentists acknowledged that general practitioners are generally not qualified to remove most impacted wisdom teeth cases. 51% believe GPS are more than qualified to removed impacted wisdom teeth, while 19% think GP’s can handle most cases.
“Any GP CAN be qualified to remove any impacted wisdom teeth through training and experience. The question of sedation techniques should be brought into the qualification considerations for the positive experience of the patient,” one dentist wrote.
Many doctors wrote that the ability of a GP to remove impacted wisdom teeth involves a combination of sedation expertise, formal training and a dentist’s experience.
Here are some dentist comments from the survey:
“It depends on the GP’s experience and comfort level. I am a GP and have extracted over 20,000 impacted wisdom teeth in my 30 year career so far. There really no impactions that I come across that I don’t feel qualified to tackle. That being said, if I see teeth that are close to the IAN that are potential parasthesia risks, I will recommend a cone beam scan (which I have in my office) to properly inform the patient of surgical risks, and if the risks are too high, will recommend not extracting those teeth if they do not absolutely need to be removed due to other complications. Many GP’s like myself, do implants, sinus lifts, advanced bone grafting and other advanced surgical procedures, so impactions are no big deal to those with those skills and experience.” (Alabama dentist)
“If you have any doubt of your capability to handle that specific extraction DON’T DO IT!” (Texas dentist)
“Qualification to remove wisdom teeth is determined by training and experience as well as desire to perform the procedure.” (Nevada dentist)
“I would much rather remove impacted teeth when a person is young and when there are no cysts or other pathology involved. They may never become symptomatic, but when they do, it is a very serious problem requiring more extensive surgery than the simpler surgical extraction that can be done at a young, healthy age. GP’s can get the training necessary to remove any impacted wisdom teeth, but that is not usually included in a regular dental school curriculum.” (Texas dentist)
“Each case needs to be evaluated on merit, looking at long term benefit and potential risk, both of the teeth remaining and the surgical procedure.” (General dentist)
“The decision to remove third molars must take many factors into consideration. A complete evaluation of tooth position, age of patient, root development, apical configuration, space consideration, local periodontal health, and medical history is essential. This will allow both the doctor and the patient to weigh the “benefits to risks” of removing wisdom teeth in each specific situation. Not every third molar should be removed, but it is essential in practicing good preventive dentistry to know the status of wisdom teeth, presence of pathology, and make a conscientious decision as to whether it best to remove or retain them.” (Utah oral surgeon)
“Sure, I think GPs are qualified, but I think an honest self-appraisal should guide whether it is worth it for the patient and GP. Never mind the money!” (Minnesota dentist)
“Stop Obamacare from indirectly letting non-dentist, ‘oral clinicians’ (such as in Alaska) extract teeth! This is a travesty!” (General dentist)
174 dentists participated in this survey from across the U.S. suburban dentists lead the survey in their willingness to perform impacted wisdom teeth removals.
How do you handle impacted wisdom teeth cases? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!