A new study published by the American Dental Association seems to have found a correlation between getting dental anaesthetic at an early age and the retardation of the growth of wisdom teeth. The study has a fairly large sample size, and evidence seems to be fairly conclusive.
The study was carried out at Tufts University in Boston. Two hundred and twenty children aged seven or older were studied, who had received dental anaesthetic between the ages of two and six. The researchers than took a bunch of dental x-rays of the children, to see if this had any effect on the development of their wisdom teeth. They found that in many cases, the wisdom teeth remained under developed, and in approximately 7.9% of cases no tooth buds were present at all, although when examined radiographically, only about 1.9% of all patients did not have any tooth buds present at all. It is yet unclear if this is a result of the amount of anaesthetic used, or if the absolute lack of tooth buds is a result of some genetic reaction to the anaesthetic.
These results do imply an arrested third molar development as a result of the use of dental anaesthetic, which is good news.
You may ask yourself why the retardation of otherwise normal development is good news, but if you have ever had wisdom tooth issues, you will know why this is an important development. Wisdom teeth are vestigial, and they become impacted and cause troubles that often require invasive surgery in 9 out of 10 people. Only 10% of the total population will develop wisdom teeth in a way that does not get in the way of the rest of their teeth. As we have no use for them, seeing as we can eat food quite well without them, it is a beneficial development if they can be stopped without any other side effects, especially as getting anaesthetic is much less invasive than having to get your wisdom teeth surgically removed.
All in all, this study needs to develop and a long term study needs to be published to see if any of these kids start to develop wisdom teeth, but if they do not, then this is excellent news, and may make the development, impaction and removal of wisdom teeth nothing more than an unpleasant memory, like lobotomies or the long lost “science” of frenectomy. That indeed will be a great day.
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