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Fear of the Dentist, Wisdom Teeth and General Anesthesia; Is it Wise to Have a Wisdom Tooth Removed?

Updated on November 27, 2010

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.

General Anesthesia

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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  • sweetie1 profile image

    sweetie1 5 years ago from India

    I have a dentist friend who never advise extraction of third molars unless required . Yes he tells me that they are of no use but to keep dentist being out of job but he only takes them out when they are carious beyond repair or causing food lodgement. So I guess not all dentist advise extraction of third molars for no reason.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 7 years ago from California, USA

    Hi, Golam 11, See you are new to HubPages! Can't wait to start reading your articles! Thank you for reading my hub, and Dr. Kazemi's site is great! Answers to so many questions in an easy to understand way.

  • profile image

    golam11 7 years ago


    very interesting site--pl. try to visit

    UK Dentist

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 7 years ago from California, USA

    Thank you, Dr. Kazemi, for reading my hub and commenting! Thank you for pointing out that Oral Surgeons are the best qualified to perform wisdom tooth extraction. I firmly agree! Consumers so often do not check to see if their practitioner has the skill, experience or credentials necessary to administer anesthesia, and each state has its own criteria for just who is allowed to administer anesthesia,who is allowed to monitor patients when surgery is performed, and what steps are to be taken in case of a medical emergency. Patients often leave out pertinent information regarding their medical history, which can contribute to any potential risks.

    I have had wisdom teeth removed, but due to serious medical issues, have always opted for local anesthesia. Consumer knowledge promotes consumer safety.

    I did read your e-book and I think it is wonderful! You provide comprehensive information in an easy to read format and if you were in California instead of Maryland, I would not hesitate to become your patient! Thank you again!

  • Dr. kazemi profile image

    Dr. kazemi 7 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

    There is a lot of misconception about wisdom teeth. In short, there is extensive literature and experiences to show that early removal before problems occur is the best practice as majority of impacted or even erupted third molars develop problems and potential damage to adjacent teeth. Anesthesia (IV sedation) is a great and safe way to have it done, as long as it is provided by a trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The surgery itself is also best performed by oral surgeons who are skilled and experienced in this procedure. For lot more information on wisdom teeth, please check out this ebook which you can download for free. It has all the relevant information about wisdom teeth, anesthesia, and more.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 7 years ago from California, USA

    I have heard the same thing, and that is why in my hub I state that death is not common, but it does happen and it can be from many reasons, including untrained personnel. I can also assure you that when you sign the informed consent at your dentist's office or medical practitioner's office, the statement reads in part, "I understand that there are risks associated with general anesthesia, including death..." I would hope that you agree that people need to be informed of the dangers involved with any procedure and again, the risk may be small, but if you are the one that has a bad outcome, then the risk becomes far more significant.

  • Ingenira profile image

    Ingenira 7 years ago

    a dentist used to tell me that the risk of anasthetic is much less than the risk of having a car accident on the road...

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 7 years ago from California, USA

    Cathylynn, Wow! I would love to meet your dentist! Sounds ethical and honest. I am so glad! In my field, I guess I just hear the nightmare stories. I am so happy to know that not all the stories are nightmares. Thank you!

  • cathylynn99 profile image

    cathylynn99 7 years ago from northeastern US

    no dentist (i've seen 6)ever suggested that i have my wisdom teeth removed. i have 'em all.

  • Deni Edwards profile image

    Deni Edwards 7 years ago from california

    My wisdom teeth are impacted--they have been since I was 16. Everytime I go to the dentist for something, and unrelated, I am told they need to come out. They say it like they are saying, "It's a nice day today."

    They tell me that it has to hurt. I tell them that no, they don't. It is always quite an argument. Ridiculous!