So today was the day to take my oldest daughter to the oral surgeon. Our dentist said he didn’t necessarily see anything wrong with the teeth about to come in but thought it would be a good idea to see him. Since my D.D.S. diploma has not arrived in the mail yet, certifying me as a dentist (and I don’t think it ever will) I bowed to his wisdom and agreed to the free consultation. (By the way, it wasn’t free after all…go figure) This same daughter had perfectly fine looking teeth 4 years ago when we were told she needed braces. We kicked that one around and finally went with the orthodontist’s recommendation then as well. He said her back teeth would come in at an angle and wear down quickly if it was not fixed. Well no one wants that. So I agreed. Today the oral surgeon comes in and looks at the chart for about 30 seconds then he says to my daughter, “Do you want to be sedated completely during the surgery?” Wait a minute. Back up. “What surgery?” I asked. “To have your daughters wisdom teeth removed,” he said. Totally in shock I asked, “Which ones?” He responded, “All of them. All 4 have to come out.” Sitting back in my seat I exclaimed, “I can’t believe this. Our dentist never said there was a problem with the teeth. I thought at worst one or two had a problem but all 4 are bad? She hasn’t even complained about them.” “Well there isn’t a problem with them yet,” the surgeon said. “But when they come in they could become impacted or infected or (he gave like 6 other examples that all sounded dreadful). We don’t want to take the chance of those things happening so it’s easiest just to pull them all now.” Am I missing something here? We are removing healthy teeth just in case they become problems down the road? Good thing we don’t do that with people. So I said, “Look, I had all my wisdom teeth come in at the same time and it hurt but they are all in there just fine.” The oral surgeon said, “They may be alright now but they are probably decaying and one day you will have a hole through one. Then you’ll have to have it removed and it will be very painful. You’ll wish you had had them removed a long time ago.” There’s a comforting thought. So this wasn’t really an evaluation at all. It was simply a scare-session to make you set an appointment to have 4 healthy teeth pulled that haven’t even come in yet. Perhaps it’s the conspiracy theorist in me but I wonder how much of this has to do with the patient’s wellbeing and how much of it has to do with the fact that there are 2 dental schools in this smallish city churning out dentists who stay in the area. It seems every mini-mall has one. Are these procedures necessary or are they ulta-preventative to generate business. I know I’m probably off in left field on this one but removing healthy teeth on the off chance they cause problems down the road is like shooting people because you are afraid they may contract Ebola. The sad part is, in the end I’ll probably go along with it and have the teeth out. What is this world coming to?
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