Monday Miscellany: Dentists, DID, Moon Disasters

  1. Dentist argues that the removal of wisdom teeth is a public health hazard, compares danger of wisdom teeth to danger of having an appendix.

Ten million third molars (wisdom teeth) are extracted from approximately 5 million people in the United States each year at an annual cost of over $3 billion.

In addition, more than 11 million patient days of “standard discomfort or disability”—pain, swelling, bruising, and malaise—result postoperatively, and more than 11000 people suffer permanent paresthesia—numbness of the lip, tongue, and cheek—as a consequence of nerve injury during the surgery. At least two thirds of these extractions, associated costs, and injuries are unnecessary, constituting a silent epidemic of iatrogenic injury that afflicts tens of thousands of people with lifelong discomfort and disability.

Avoidance of prophylactic extraction of third molars can prevent this public health hazard.
Not more than 12% of impacted teeth have associated pathology (Table 1). This incidence is the same as for appendicitis (10%) and cholecystitis (12%), yet prophylactic appendectomies and cholecystectomies are not the standard of care.4 Why then prophylactic third-molar extractions?

2. I knew about Lawrence v. Texas, the case that overturned sodomy laws in the U.S. (plug for a fascinating book on the topic), but I did not know about its precursor, Bowers v. Hardwick:

Hardwick then sued Michael Bowers, the attorney general of Georgia, in federal court for a declaratory judgment that the state’s sodomy law was invalid. He charged that as an active homosexual, he was liable to eventually be prosecuted for his activities. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had been searching for a “perfect test case” to challenge anti-sodomy laws, and Hardwick’s cause presented the one they were looking for. They approached Hardwick, who agreed to be represented by ACLU attorneys.


Hardwick was represented before the Supreme Court by Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe. Michael Hobbs, assistant attorney general, argued the case for the State. The legality of the officer’s entry into Hardwick’s home was not contested; only the constitutionality of the sodomy statute was challenged.

A heterosexual married couple was initially named in the suit as plaintiffs John and Mary Doe, alleging that they wished to engage in sodomy but were prevented from doing so by the Georgia anti-sodomy law. However, they failed to obtain standing and were dropped from the suit

3. A common refrain is that language is a left-brained thing. It’s more likely to be something your left hemisphere is doing, but how much more likely depends on handedness!

4. Longform on investigating a rape case.

5. More rape: ignoring sexual violence in juvenile offender facilities.

The Justice Department survey — covering both secure juvenile detention facilities and group homes, the less restrictive settings into which troubled youngsters are often ordered — involved more than 8,500 boys and girls. In all, 1,720 of those surveyed reported being sexually assaulted.

Allen Beck, the author of the report, said that the rates of staff-on-inmate abuse among juveniles are “about three times higher than what we find in the adult arena.”

The highest incidence of staff sexual misconduct occurred in Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia and Illinois, while other states like New York, Massachusetts and Delaware, reported no abuse. At the Paulding Regional Youth Detention Center in Georgia and the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility in Ohio, one in three youngsters surveyed said they’d suffered sexual abuse at the hands of staff members.

6. My Mom Is Different,[pdf] a book for children of people with Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder.

7. Presidential statement in case of a moon disaster.


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