Monday, April 8, 2013

A must-read from the National Institutes of Health

After my own lingual nerve injury, my life has changed. As a mother, I am torn on whether to allow my children to get their wisdom teeth extracted. My daughter's dentist has been saying for 2 years now that it "must" be daughter seen what I have gone through, but still feels obligated by what her Dentist has instructed her. I mean, aren't we all supposed to follow doctor's orders?
Now, read this:

The evidence is compelling that prophylactic extraction of third molars is a significant public health hazard. It is a silent epidemic of iatrogenic injury that warrants avoidance of the extraction of any third molar in the absence of a pathologic condition or a specific problem.

...When fully formed, the roots frequently lie close to the right and left mandibular nerves, which run along the jaw beneath or between the roots. The risk of permanent paresthesia following extraction of a mesioangular impaction is as high as 6.8%, much higher than for other types of unerupted or impacted teeth. More than 95% of these teeth will never cause any problem. ...would continue to erupt into normal position in the mouth if left alone. There can be no excuse for tolerating so many unnecessary extractions on millions of unsuspecting and misled people and putting them at risk of so much iatrogenic nerve injury.

Quote: The British National Institute for Clinical Excellence is unequivocal in its recommendation, adopted by the National Health Service: “The practice of prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted third molars should be discontinued. . . . There is no reliable evidence to support a health benefit to patients from the prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted teeth. The conditions for which extraction is justified include nonrestorable dental caries, pulpal infection, cellulitis, recurrent pericoronitis, abscesses, cysts, and fractures.

As you know, my injury was not caused by wisdom teeth extraction, but by simple need stick during a cavity filling procedure. However, most LND is done during wisdom teeth removal. The dental industry is using procedures that put the public at risk, and no one is holding them accountable. The article even mentions that lawsuits are rarely won, because the patient supposedly "knows the risks" before work is started. I didn't know of any risk before I was injured. Did you? 

And even if you were fully informed, you take a risk doing lots of things - it's not like I signed a waiver and went bungee jumping...I was told I needed a filling done. That's it. Yet, I would lose in court if any lawyer would take my case (which they won't, I've been turned down by 6 of them).

If a patient takes all reasonable care, then trusts a medical practitioner who forces an unnecessary procedure or rushes the job, resulting in injury, someone should be responsible for permanently injuring a patient.
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Feel free to cite this article in your emails and letters. (Note - citations were moved for this summary; full article, with citations, is available at