Fear of the Dentist, Wisdom Teeth and General Anesthesia; Is it Wise to Have a Wisdom Tooth Removed?
The Push for Removing Wisdom Teeth
Most dentists advise the extraction of wisdom teeth. Just this knowledge can keep people from seeing the dentist on a routine basis. Too much fear is involved with just hearing the words, "We need to get rid of those!" There seems to be little controversy on the subject of wisdom tooth extraction among the dental community. However, the patient population finds the subject very controversial.
If you have wisdom teeth and you go to the dentist for anything else, you will most likely be told that wisdom teeth are not necessary and can cause many problems, including dental infections, migraines and shifting of your teeth that will cause crowding, just to mention a few. While this is true, it does not happen in all cases. Many people have no problems with their wisdom teeth. They are not impacted and they even have room for them without causing misalignment of the other teeth.
I am never in favor of having a surgical procedure simply because the medical or dental professional says it is a good idea. This is a decision that should be based on your medical history, dental symptoms and the expense involved. All of these things and other things must be factored in to your decision and your decision should be respected.
How To Tell Your Dentist No
If your dentist has informed you that you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, ask why? If he responds by saying that wisdom teeth are unnecessary and that they can cause future problems, then you know that immediate extraction is not necessary. This is something that you can postpone. Simply say that you understand and respect his opinion, but that you are unable to do this right now. Tell him you will consider this in the future, just not at this point. If he persists, just say no. It is your mouth, not his. Do not be afraid of hurting the dentist's feelings. How many people do things every single day just because they are afraid to say no? Be assertive. It is okay!
If he starts to tell you that your wisdom teeth are impacted and actually damaging your other teeth or they are infected, ask if all 4 of the wisdom teeth are involved. You usually have two on each side of your mouth, one upper and one lower. Chances are, they are not all infected or all impacted. If one of your wisdom teeth is infected, then it may be wise to have that one removed, but there are things you must consider first. If you are insured, the first order of business is to find out if your dental insurance company covers the procedure and how much will be your responsibility. If the dentist suggests that all of your wisdom teeth can be removed at one sitting, think twice. It usually takes up to two weeks for this procedure to heal. How are you going to eat if you cannot chew on at least one side of your mouth? It is also important to inquire as to what type of pain medication will be prescribed for you after the procedure. If your dentist is the type who believes tylenol is adequate for any type of pain, think twice. Maybe you should find a practitioner that is not so afraid to prescribe something stronger.
Wisdom Teeth May Be More Than A Simple Tooth Extraction!
Many wisdom teeth extractions are simple procedures, according to the dentist. However, some extractions require dental surgery, not just pulling. In my opinion, wisdom teeth are best removed by an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons are, after all, highly trained, with many more years of education than a dentist. They have extensive knowledge and are equipped and credentialed to perform surgery not just in the mouth, but on the face and jaw. Even if you are not a medically compromised patient, seriously consider the use of an oral surgeon. Your dental health policy will usually allow you to see an oral surgeon for extractions of wisdom teeth. The insurance company doesn't typically charge you more to have an oral surgeon remove your wisdom teeth. If you must have your wisdom teeth removed, it makes sense to seek out the best qualified dental practitioner.
Anesthesia is another important aspect of the equation. Because dental insurance companies (and correctly so) believe that general anesthesia for the removal of wisdom teeth is unnecessary, they will cover very little of that cost. The price of general anesthesia can be high. But it is not just the financial side that should be considered.
So many dentists treat general anesthesia as if it is a very minor thing. They act as if anesthesia is routine and very safe. Know that it is not! There are risks associated with anesthesia. In May of this year, a 6 year old boy in Virginia died while under general anesthesia in a dentist's office. He was having his teeth capped. There are additional deaths reported every year and even though death is not common, if you or your family member is the victim, it becomes much more significant. The reasons for the deaths are varied. Many dentists are not properly trained or certified in the use of anesthesia. Check the requirements of your state and then ask to actually see the dentist's certification. Make sure the certification is current and also allows the dentist to provide the type of anesthesia that he recommends. Check with your physician to see if you are even a candidate for general anesthesia. If you have cardiac issues, high blood pressure or something as common as asthma, your physician may recommend that you have dental work done with novocaine only.
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