Researchers Question the Need for Wisdom Tooth Extraction

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Researchers writing in the British Dental Journal have questioned whether dentists are removing wisdom teeth more frequently than required.

The researchers argue that there is not always a need to extract impacted teeth and evidence-based measures have reduced the incidence of extraction in the UK. According to the report, dentists in the UK are leaving impacted teeth that are not causing any problems alone. This is saving a significant amount of money.

Professor Marc Tennant from the University of Western Australia said that the British model, which uses evidence-based decision-making, has contributed to a significant reduction in the number of extraction procedures carried out and this could be adopted in Australia to save money.

The decision-making process is based on guidelines released by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), which state that wisdom teeth should only be removed if they are causing pain or pose a risk of infection, damage or injury to surrounding teeth. The guidelines are based on the notion that there is no evidence to suggest removing asymptomatic teeth as a preventative measure has any benefits to the individual.

Professor Tennant and his research team analysed data in Australia and the UK and found that the rate of extraction is seven times higher in Australia. The team calculated the amount of money that would be saved by adopting an approach similar to that in place in the UK. However, the process was more stringent and involved a more thorough assessment process, including an X-ray every two years. In total, the researchers believe the introduction of evidence-based treatment could save between $420,000 and $513,000 per year.

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