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Having wisdom teeth removed is one of the least popular dental procedures. Recovery can be slow and it often involves discomfort, bleeding, swelling, and inability to eat solid foods.

While removal is sometimes necessary, some dentists and researchers have challenged the removal of healthy wisdom teeth saying that like the appendix the third molars should be left alone unless there is a proven problem.

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars that typically emerge during the late teens or early twenties, are often removed when they don’t grow straight, when they cause chronic pain, when trapped beneath the gum line, when a cyst grows around the tooth, and when they threaten the development of the second molars.

A Dutch research team led by Dr. Dirk Mettes published a study in 2005 that argued “watchful monitoring” of impacted wisdom teeth might be a better approach than the immediate removal. A New York Times article listed other dissent against the current practices of removing impacted but healthy teeth:

  • Britain’s National Health Service stopped paying for the procedure after a scientific panel found no evidence to support the practice.
  • The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh commented that extraction is “not advisable.”
  • American Public Health Association warned that the risks of surgery were greater than those posed by impacted teeth or trapped bacteria.

If you or a family member is experiencing pain or discomfort in the molar area, schedule an appointment to with Carmel West Dentistry team. Sometimes the removal of third molars is necessary and we will be happy to discuss your options including removal or keeping your wisdom teeth.