At Tufts University for Dental Medicine in Boston, dentists discovered a statistical link between local anesthesia injections given to kids aged two to six and inhibited growth of the bottom wisdom teeth. The study, titled Inferior Alveolar Nerve Block and Third-Molar Agenesis, was published in full, in April’s issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Anthony R. Silvestri Jr., DMD, headed the study, and explains the findings.
“The incidence of missing wisdom teeth was significantly higher in the group that had received dental anesthesia; statistical evidence suggests that this did not happen by chance alone. We hope our findings stimulate research using larger sample sizes and longer periods of observation to confirm our findings and help better understand how wisdom teeth can be stopped from developing,” Silvestri stated. “It is intriguing to think that something as routine as local anesthesia could stop wisdom teeth from developing. This is the first study in humans showing an association between a routinely- administered, minimally-invasive clinical procedure and arrested third molar growth,”
Silvestri is a department of prosthodontics and operative dentistry professor at Tufts. He and an accomplished team of dentists worked on this study, hoping to set a precedent and encourage more research to come. The ultimate goal in something like this, would be to develop a procedure that eventually stopped the need for wisdom teeth removal altogether. As Silvestri said, this is the first study done, showing such a normal, easy procedure like local anesthesia helping stop the growth of wisdom teeth.
As anyone over a certain age knows, wisdom teeth can be problematic for a number of reasons. They can become impacted, which is uncomfortable and has a number of potential health complications. Their growth can cause crooked teeth, and affect your bite. They nearly always need to be removed, to avoid complications. Unlike all other teeth, wisdom teeth begin growing after birth, making the potential for a procedure that arrests their development, appear possible.
There’s no current preventative procedure the need for wisdom teeth removal. As a result, having your wisdom teeth removed is viewed as a necessary procedure for nearly every adult. The procedure can be expensive, problematic, and painful but not having it done, is potentially much worse. This makes the idea of a preventative procedure all the more ideal. Hopefully this study helps encourage other dentists to explore the possibility of a procedure that prevents the need for wisdom teeth removal.
Emily Manke is a health and lifestyle blogger in Portland, OR. Her interests include biking, hiking, cooking, gardening. She is a bit of a health-nut, and loves learning about all things health-related. She sometimes contributes to the blog for this dentist in Portland, OR.