The knights have asked it's players to consider taking out their wisdom teeth in the off season to reduce their risk of jaw fracture. Controversial? Proactive? interesting approach!
Newcastle Knights' timely wisdom in doubt ahead of NRL season
By David Riccio
February 08, 2009
NEWCASTLE have taken extraordinary steps to ensure a trouble-free season, advising players to have their wisdom teeth removed to limit the chance of suffering a broken jaw.
The controversial safeguard has resulted in Richard Fa'aoso, Matt Hilder, Chris Houston, Junior Sau, Cameron Ciraldo and Keith Lulia all undergoing the painful procedure.
At least two players, including new recruit Ben Rogers, have refused to undergo the surgery.
"I must admit, it is controversial,'' Knights medical advisor Dr Neil Halpin said.
"Because the evidence isn't hard and fast.
"Talking guys into getting perfectly fine wisdom teeth out ... they sort of give you a double look and question do I really need that?
"But there's good enough evidence that taking out wisdom teeth routinely reduces the rate of jaw fractures quite markedly.
"We've been doing that at the Knights for about two years and we've cut our jaw fracture rate down enormously.''
For the past two seasons, under head coach Brian Smith, the entire Knights playing roster have been counselled about the supposed benefits of having their wisdom teeth extracted.
Halpin and local Newcastle dentist Paul Coceancig began researching the idea following the loss of star half-back Andrew Johns with a fractured jaw in 2007.
"My recollection is that he had impacted wisdom teeth,'' Halpin said.
On the advice of his medical staff, Smith said he supported any safeguard that aided the welfare of his players.
"My attitude to it is always the player's health and that it's ultimately their decision, it's not a mandatory thing,'' Smith said.
Of greater concern to Smith is the weight loss to almost every player who has undergone the procedure.
"You initially lose a bit of weight, but I was able to put it back on pretty quickly,'' hooker Matt Hilder said.
"If it keeps me on the field, then it makes sense.''