Single wisdom tooth extraction - and pushy NHS referral


Joined
Jan 24, 2023
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About 6 weeks ago a lost a chunk of my upper right wisdom tooth. It cracked a few years ago and my dentist did their best to repair it but always expected it to go again. They attempted to repair it again but after drilling away all the decay there wasn't much of the top of the tooth left. They applied what they described as as a "temporary dressing" and took an xray to decide whether to refer me to a specialist for extraction. The dentist told me it may be a difficult extraction due to the roots and there may be complications with my sinuses.

Next I know is I get a rather pushy letter from a dental surgeon offering to extract the tooth for free on the NHS (not sure how UK-focused this forum is so realise not everyone will be able to help with the NHS bit). I say pushy because the letter says that normal NHS referrals can take up to a year but they can see me in 2 weeks and it's completely free of charge. I can't help but find this a bit suspicious because why doesn't the NHS refer more people their way if they 're so quiet?

So general dental question is whether extraction is the best/only option? I've had absolutely no trouble with it in the last 6 weeks and do I need to subject myself to the potentially difficult extraction and risk of sinus implications? I don't mind paying more money if there's a better option available.

And UK-specific question is whether there's anything dodgy going on with this referral? I always like a bargain but I'm not short of money. I'd rather pay a private dentist myself if it will result in a better result. It occurred to me that maybe they use trainees or something? Or perhaps they just think it's an easy job but might not end well if things get complicated.

Many thanks in advance for any help with either of the above questions.
 
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MattKW

Verified Dentist
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Mar 18, 2018
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Most upper wisdom teeth are surprisingly quite easy, and the risk of sinus complications small. But some dentists don't like to do them because it is hard to see what you're doing - it is largely by feel. If you have an Xray or two, put them up and I'll be more sure.
  • It is very rare that I advise people keep their wisdom teeth. Usually they are hard to clean, and patients either get decay or infections.
  • It's easier to remove a fairly intact wisdom than a rotted one.
  • Even worse is that plaque buildup between the wisdom and the next molar in front will cause decay in the adjacent tooth - now you have 2 damaged teeth, and maybe 2 extractions.
  • In the attached image this has occurred to both upper and lower 2nd molar teeth next to the wisdoms (yellow arrows). So, both wisdoms have to be removed PLUS the lower 2nd molar; the upper 2nd molar can be filled but it's going to be very difficult.
 

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