Can Science Solve Our Problems?

An interesting article titled “Science and Conscience” appears in the 2015 Journal of Oral and Maxilofacial Surgery written by Thomas Dodson (vol. 73, pp. 2255-2256). The article opens by discussing a study by the NIH seeking to explore the differences in people with a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg versus that of 120 mm Hg. The study was aborted with a year left in its duration. The study concluded achieving a target systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg reduced cardiovascular events by almost 33% and death by almost 25% compared with a group with a target systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg. The authors question why such a study was ever needed to be done because it seems so intuitive but later explains that our society today relies on science to achieve it’s high standards.

The author then goes on to discuss how there is a growing anti vaccination movement to not give kids the vaccines against diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough. He then goes on to discuss how there is also a movement to no longer fluoridate the water in communities. He states that cavities can help be minimized by adding a small amount of fluoride to drinking water. In both the cases of vaccination and fluoridation the author implies that the choice is obvious: one should vaccinate young kids against disease and one should add a small amount of flouride to drinking water.

The author then tries to tie in the above examples into what should be done about treating asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth. He states

“We recommend that third molars be evaluated by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon by the time a patient is a young adult to assess the presence of third molars and disease status and to discuss management options to ensure optimal patient-specific outcomes. Impacted teeth that demonstrate pathologic features should be managed operatively. In the absence of disease, patients can be offered the choice between extraction to prevent future problems and active clinical and radiographic surveillance.”

The author feels that by not following the above regarding wisdom teeth then it is denying the scientific evidence that exists.

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