Unnecessarily removing perfectly good body parts

Rogue dentist’s 30-year crusade against wisdom teeth removal extracts results

Dr. Jay Friedman relishes his role as dental outcast. Like a pesky younger brother who enjoys watching his siblings squirm, the 86-year-old dentist and public health advocate has for decades been poking and prodding at the oral health community over his personal obsession: wisdom teeth.
Friedman has argued for more than 30 years that removing a young person’s healthy wisdom teeth — called “third molars” by professionals — is an unnecessary and irresponsible practice. While many dentists and oral surgeons have dismissed him as a traitor and a zealot, in 2007, people in the public health arena began to listen.
That’s when Friedman published an article in the American Journal of Public Health claiming at least two-thirds of the millions of wisdom teeth extracted each year at a cost of billions of dollars were removed for no good reason. In pointed terms, Friedman accused his colleagues of ignoring the lack of evidence supporting the need for such surgery in order to line their own pockets.
Friedman has compared the practice to prophylactic tonsillectomies, which were routinely performed on healthy children to prevent future throat problems in the first part of the 20th century, before the medical community denounced them as unnecessary.

Yes, reminds one of tonsillectomies, another now-discredited operation that removed perfectly good body parts. It also reminds one of circumcision, an operation performed by doctors who believe that they know what is better for the human body than evolution (or God). There are now reported operations in which women are having their breasts amputated just in case they might get breast cancer some day.


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Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! says December 5, 2012

Had my wisdoms out 25 years ago. At the time, I was SURE that there was NO good reason for it. At last I am vindicated!

Dave in Seattle says December 9, 2012

I’m the same as Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Had mine taken out so I could join the Peace Corps. I was 24 years old and the PC wouldn’t let me join with my wisdom teeth in-the teeth had never caused me a moment of pain, just sitting in my jaw harmlessly. Cost a lot of money even though I had a student oral surgeon do the operation with only local anesthesia. Days of excruciating pain afterwards. Didn’t think twice about it either. Typical SWPL thing to do, pay (what was then a small fortune for a recent college grad) for an unnecessary operation so I could be a volunteer in some central Asian hell hole for two years. Dumb as dirt back then.

Scott says December 10, 2012

I think proselytizing against blindly trusting dentists is a good idea. Four years ago I was told I had 2 cavities, but I delayed returning for the fillings. Then I moved and didn’t go to the dentist for 2+ years, all the time dreading that my cavities were getting deeper.

I’ve gone to a new dentist 3 times since then, no cavities. Go figure.

Suburban_elk says March 30, 2013

The wisdom teeth are not missed.

The foreskin, on the other hand.

M Braivo says December 14, 2015

Amazing how things like gall bladder removal are done without question. We evolved with these organs for very specific reasons that we simply have yet to discover.

    Cloudswrest says December 14, 2015

    “Amazing how things like gall bladder removal are done without question. We evolved with these organs for very specific reasons that we simply have yet to discover.”

    Your gall bladder is actually quite important for digestion. It is a bile cache. Bile is an emulsifier (think soap) used to digest fat (since it normally doesn’t mix with water). Your liver makes bile at a slow and steady rate. Your gall bladder stores it up for when you eat a fatty meal. If you’ve had your gall bladder removed then bile is just being dribbled into your gut at a steady rate and there is not enough stored up for when you eat a lot of fat, which can then lead to was is delicately called, “anal leakage”. Also I think low fat diets are bad for your gall bladder. Bile just sits around like old gasoline precipitating stones, while if you regularly eat fat old bile is always being replaced with fresh bile. And any precipitate is continually being flushed out.

      Cloudswrest says December 14, 2015

      Once you have stones though then eating fat can be an issue. Your gall bladder is a contractile organ just like a uterus, bladder or rectum. If a stone is plugging the exit then there is pain and damage when it tries to contract. Doctors in the US will refuse to operate just to remove the stones and leave the gall bladder. The “standard of care” is to remove it. You have to go to China if you want to keep your gall bladder: http://skepticalscalpel.blogspot.com/2014/02/gallbladder-surgery-goes-back-to-future.html

jimbo says December 16, 2015

Im 23 years old and i was recently considering removing one of my emerging wisdom teeth because its giving me bad breath. The tooth itself is slightly below the level of the molars which i believe is allowing food to get trapped in between. Whenever i floss back there the floss smells awful and it always returns even if i was fasting and only had a cup of coffee . Ill probably just wait it out until the tooth fully rises like the wisdom tooth on the other side which doesn’t give me any problems.

Tuba says December 29, 2015

Doctors don’t know best. They are a close shop, a guild, one must parrot the consensus even when it is wrong… and I still have everything I was born with…

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