The truthiness of extracting wisdom teeth: James R. Carey

An excellent article was written yesterday October 3, 2011, titled “The truthiness of extracting wisdom teeth” by James R. Carey who is a Professor of Entomology at UC Davis

The article is located at and I think it is well worth a read for anyone considering wisdom teeth removal.

He opens the article with

In this age of evidence-based health care, I was astonished to discover that the oral surgeon’s recommendation for removal of my 21-year-old daughter’s impacted wisdom teeth was not based on evidence, theory, logic or facts but rather on truthiness — the quality of being considered to be true because of what he wished.

He goes on to say

“Yet it is considered by dentists, oral surgeons and the majority of the public as “standard of care.” Neither I nor any family members or friends were aware that evidence is lacking on the benefits of wisdom tooth extraction in young adults.”

I discovered this after leaving the oral surgeon’s office and researching the topic online. One of the most insightful articles I read was by Los Angeles dentist Jay W. Friedman, recipient of the 2009 Author of the Year award from the American Journal of Public Health, in which he noted that all of the arguments used by dentists for extraction of wisdom teeth are myths.”

He then goes on to say

So why was I not only oblivious of the lack of benefits from wisdom teeth extraction, but also unaware of the potential health risks? Probably for two reasons. The first is that there is a substantial financial incentive for my daughter’s oral surgeon and others in his profession to recommend extraction to their patients by telling us their “truthiness” story as though it is deep principle. …The second is that early extraction resonates as a prevention concept in the same way that tonsillectomies resonated with my parents in the 1960s as preventative.”

Dr. Carey goes on to suggest that medical and veterinary schools should make changes to their curriculum to educate their patients and evaluate research literature evidence.

He concludes

“A new concept of health care can then begin to emerge in which caregivers and their patients create a close, mutually beneficial partnership of information sharing and decision-making.”

I am not sure if Dr. Carey visited my website, but I echo many of his thoughts and observations.

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