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Imagine you are in entered in a golf tournament to win over a million dollars and you get a toothache. It can happen to anyone, even the world’s #1 golfer in the world. At last weeks PGA golf tournament, Rory McIlroy withdrew from the Honda Classic golf tournament. He was not playing that well in the second round, but had a respectable 70 in the first round.
About an hour after he withdrew, he released a statement through his management team, claiming extreme pain with his wisdom teeth that affected his concentration. “It was a reactive decision,” McIlroy told Sports Illustrated of his decision to withdraw Friday at the PGA National. “What I should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a 5 and play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85. What I did was not good for the tournament, not good for the kids and the fans who were out there watching me – it was not the right thing to do.”
The point, from a dentist’s view, is that this was, and is, completely avoidable. One of the most important x-rays that should be done for a teenager is a Panoramic x-ray. Most children will have this completed upon the completion of orthodontics. This x-ray shows the dentist and the oral surgeon the location, eruption direction, and time frame of eruption of the wisdom teeth. Oral surgeons will inform the minor patient and the parents their recommendation. Rory’s dentist released a statement, as if to prove Rory’s condition. This was ill conceived. Would I go to a dentist who did not inform me of the consequences of not being proactive when it comes to the eruption of wisdom teeth?
The reason for wisdom teeth not erupting into the oral cavity in a consistent pathway and without incidence is simple – evolution. As we as humans continue to evolve, our jaws are decreasing in size since we are eating more “processed” food and less “tough” food off the bone etc. Even though we are still carnivorousness, we do cut our portions to be smaller. Less bone stimulation leads to smaller jaw bone, especially the mandible. Therefore there is just not enough room for wisdom teeth. Some kids are presenting today with 3, 2, 1 and even zero wisdom teeth. Another sign that we are still evolving.
So my advice to all parents of teenage kids is to get a Panoramic x-ray done by the time the child is 15 years old. Have your dentist evaluate it for you and inform you of the recommendation. And most importantly, see you oral surgeon if advised to do so. Every month we are presented with a young teenager suffering from an infected wisdom tooth because the patient and the parents did not take the recommendation of their dentist. Again, this is avoidable.
Don’t end up like Rory McIlroy, he lost a chance at a million dollars. Who knows what you will miss out on!
Born and raised in San Diego, Dr. James Tasto attended University of San Diego where he lettered in both golf and wrestling. After earning a Bachelors in Science from Loyola Marymount University, Dr. Tasto graduated from University of Southern California Dental School with an emphasis on cosmetics and sports dentistry. Dr. James Tasto was selected by his peers to be included in the List of Top Dentists in San Diego for 2007 – 2011. He appeared in the May issue of San Diego Magazine. Dr. Tasto is also a member of D.O.C.S. (Doctors Offering Charitable Services), a local organization that offers medical services such as plastic surgery, vision and dental to the less fortunate patients in San Diego. Dr. Tasto currently resides in San Diego with his lovely wife Traci and their 3 children. He enjoys golf, beach volleyball and playing with his kids.