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Extraction of wisdom teeth subject of debate

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									C6    Wednesday, April 22, 2009                                                                                    Record-Courier                                                                                                                           www.recordpub.com




     Health & Fitness                                      KASHA LEGEZA-BURTON, HEALTH EDITOR • PHONE: (330) 673-3491 ext. 1448 • FAX: (330) 673-0722 • EMAIL: klegeza@recordpub.com




To pull or not to pull ...                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bit of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Health

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Manage concerns
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Extraction of wisdom teeth subject of debate                                                                                                                                                                                                   “A Matter of Balance” can
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            help people improve their
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            quality of life and remain in-
By Mary Powers                                               as cysts and tumors that can develop around                                             just as they brush and floss their 28 other teeth.                                     dependent.
Scripps Howard News Service                                  impacted wisdom teeth, which are teeth that re-                                            But Dr. Greg Kemp, a Memphis dentist, said                                             “A Matter of Balance” is
   Evolutionarily their days may be numbered,                main buried underneath the patient’s gums.                                              that doesn’t always happen.                                                            designed to reduce the fear
but the current debate about if and when wis-                  Weeda is a UT Health Science Center pro-                                                 “It is a difficult place to floss,” he said. “Food                                  of falling and increase activity
dom teeth should be removed suggests they                    fessor and chairman of the department of oral                                           gets packed between the molars and the wisdom                                          levels among older adults.
won’t go quietly.                                            and maxillofacial surgery. He oversees a clinic                                         tooth. It can erode the root of the 12-year molar                                         Participants learn to set re-
   This year, it is estimated that more than 4               where in a busy week 40 to 50 wisdom teeth are                                          (next to the wisdom tooth) or cause decay.”                                            alistic goals to increase activ-
million Americans, mostly teenagers, will have               removed.                                                                                   The two camps disagree even more dramati-                                           ity, change their environment
their wisdom teeth pulled in a rite of passage                                      Historic debate                                                  cally about whether wisdom teeth should be re-                                         to reduce fall risk factors, and
as American as braces or a first pair of contact                                                                                                     moved before they cause any problems or even                                           learn simple exercises to in-
                                                                This debate isn’t new. It heated up decades
lenses.                                                                                                                                              erupt through the gums.                                                                crease strength and balance.
                                                             ago when antibiotics arrived in the waning days                                            Friedman compared the practice of removing
   Members of the American Public Health As-                 of World War II and revolutionized treatment of                                                                                                                                   This program is sponsored
sociation (APHA) fear it has become a little too                                                                                                     symptom-free wisdom teeth to removing tonsils
                                                             infections, including dental infections. Suddenly,                                      in the false hope it will reduce the incidence of                                      by Family & Community Ser-
routine. Late last year, delegates to the group’s            teeth that once were routinely pulled to prevent                                                                                                                               vices Inc., Portage County
national meeting approved a measure calling                                                                                                          sore throats and other infections. He called on
                                                             an infection from spreading could be saved.                                             insurance companies to require pre-approval                                            Health Department, Robinson
for more research into when and why wisdom                      It also comes amid evidence that wisdom                                                                                                                                     Memorial Hospital and Area
teeth are pulled and an end to routine removal                                                                                                       before wisdom teeth are pulled and evidence of
                                                             teeth themselves are on their way out. Re-                                              necessity.                                                                             Agency on Aging 10B
of what dentists call third molars.                          searchers argue they just aren’t as vital as they                                                                                                                                 The following upcoming
   Backers argue implementation would reduce                                                                                                            The problem, Weeda explained, is that there
                                                             were eons ago when human ancestors spent                                                is currently no way to predict which wisdom                                            classes of “A Matter of Bal-
unnecessary surgeries, saving billions of dollars            their days grinding away on food — think roots                                                                                                                                 ance: Managing Concerns
and saving tens of thousands of patients from                                                                                                        teeth are destined to cause problems and are
                                                             and bark — that was tough on teeth. When hu-                                            best removed early, before they even start push-                                       About Falls” are now being
surgical injury.                                             mans started mastering fire and eating suddenly                                         ing their way through bone and gum.                                                    offered:
   They called on federal health officials to con-           got easier, the human jaw began to shorten.
vene an independent panel of experts to review                                                                                                                               Problematic teeth                                                 • June 10, 15, 17, 22, 24
                                                                Today Dr. Barrett Sexton, a Memphis, Tenn.,                                                                                                                                 and 29, July 1 and 6 from 2
available evidence and develop a consensus                   oral surgeon, estimated 85 percent of patients                                             Even in symptom-free patients, the AAOMS
statement to help guide treatment. The associa-                                                                                                      reported that nearly 30 percent of wisdom                                              to 4 p.m. (except June 22,
                                                             simply don’t have room in their jaws to accom-                                                                                                                                 when class will be held from
tion bills itself as the world’s oldest and largest          modate wisdom teeth.                                                                    teeth have cavities and about 25 percent have
organization of public-health professionals.                                                                                                         inflammation that signals gum disease, which                                           10 a.m. to noon) at Family
                                                                In 1978, federal officials convened a national                                                                                                                              & Community Service Inc.,
   “I believe some wisdom teeth need to be                                                                                                           unchecked can lead to tooth and bone loss.
                                                             meeting with an eye to developing treatment                                                                                                                                    705 Oakwood St., No. 101,
taken out. But we are trying to eliminate unnec-                                                                                                        Even vigilant patients might simply be post-
                                                             guidelines. When the American Association of
essary extractions, which cost at least $4 billion                                                                                                   poning the inevitable, the group wrote in its                                          Ravenna.
                                                             Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS)                                                 response to the health association’s vote.
annually,” said Dr. Jay W. Friedman, a retired                                                                                                                                                                                                 • July 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27
                                                             formed a task force on issues related to wisdom                                            “A lot of times the problem is wisdom teeth
Los Angeles dentist who now works as a dental                teeth nearly 40 years later, the group faced                                                                                                                                   and 29 from 10 a.m. to noon
consultant.                                                                                                                                          don’t come in perfectly straight or they are par-                                      at Streetsboro Senior Center,
                                                             some of the same questions, including which                                             tially erupted,” Kemp said.
   Friedman has been writing and lecturing                                                                                                                                                                                                  9184 S.R. 43, Streetsboro.
                                                             teeth can safely remain in a person’s mouth and                                            The risk of complications is higher for older
on issues surrounding wisdom teeth since the                                                                                                                                                                                                   • July 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28
1970s. He wrote the APHA policy statement                    which should be pulled in adolescence to pre-                                           patients, and their recovery is more difficult, he
                                                             vent more serious problems later in life.                                                                                                                                      and 30 from 10 a.m. to noon
that called for renewed scrutiny of their re-                                                                                                        said.                                                                                  at the Robinson Memorial
moval.                                                                                 When to pull                                                     Friedman conceded the procedure might be a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hospital Community Room,
   Friedman contends that about two-thirds of                   There are areas of agreement regarding when                                          little tougher for adults. But he said that risk is
                                                             wisdom teeth should go. The two sides gener-                                            swamped by the number of patients who suffer                                           Ravenna.
wisdom-teeth extractions in the United States
                                                             ally agree that wisdom teeth should be pulled                                           surgical injuries. Citing the AAOMS and others,                                           There is no cost for this
today are unnecessary.
   Not so fast, say oral surgeons like Dr. Law-              if a cyst forms around their roots, if they are                                         he estimated that between 0.33 percent and 1                                           program. A workbook is pro-
rence Weeda of the University of Tennessee                   damaging an adjacent tooth or if they are a                                             percent of patients suffer permanent nerve dam-                                        vided and refreshments are
College of Dentistry.                                        persistent source of pain or subject to repeated                                        age that results in permanent numbness of the                                          served.
   “I’m not of the opinion that every single wis-            gum infections.                                                                         jaw, lip or tongue. He said that translates into                                          Early registration is recom-
dom tooth has to be removed, but we see every                   They don’t agree on whether wisdom teeth                                             between 11,000 and 34,000 Americans.                                                   mended as space is limited in
day the repercussions of leaving them in place,”             contribute to crowding the patient’s other teeth                                           Sexton said surgical complication rates are                                         each of these classes
Weeda said.                                                  or the advisability of leaving fully erupted                                            lower among younger patients.                                                             Call Claudette Rogers at
   His list included gum disease and bone loss,              wisdom teeth in place. Friedman argues that                                                Weeda and others argue it is a decision best                                        330-297-8770 to register or
as well as rarer and more serious problems such              patients can brush and floss their wisdom teeth                                         left to patients and parents.                                                          for more information.




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