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Wisdom Teeth

Posted May 01 2010 12:03pm
Hi Dr. Ellie,

I have very tiny upper wisdom teeth - maybe half normal size - and my dentist says they are serving no purpose and should be taken out. I'm in my 50's and was wondering if I should leave them or extract them. I understand the older you are the more complications you can have in extracting them. A year ago the X-rays showed decay, but since I have been using your system they no longer hurt when I floss. Also, I've read that Novocaine can cause cancer. In general what are your thoughts regarding upper wisdom teeth for middle age folks? I had my lower ones removed when I was very young.

Thanks very much.


Dear LG
Hmmm.... this question is a lot more clinical - so it would really involve looking at the bite, the teeth etc to give you a good answer. I also do not want to sound as if I am giving different advice from the advice you have received from your dentist.

Upper wisdom teeth usually have a cone shaped root - and so if they do have to come out - it should not be a problem. Upper wisdom teeth usually give dentists the chance to impress patients with their extraction skills!

On the other hand, I believe far too many (unnecessary) wisdom teeth are removed. If there were no money in the venture - I bet many more would remain in people's mouths - sorry to be so cynical - but I wisdom teeth are good income vs time value!

I would probably wait a while if they were my teeth. Ensure that there is no decay or gum disease in or around them in about a year from now - that should give any decay time to heal up etc. If all is well - I have seen 100 year old patients with wisdom teeth who are perfectly happy.

Sorry not to be able to be more help - but I would not rush into any extraction unless it is an emergency!

Best Wishes,

26 Corporate Woods
Rochester, NY 14623
(585) 272-1270
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