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Is local dental anesthesia eliminating wisdom teeth?
Updated: 4/4/2013 6:15:00 PM
 

Could dental anesthesia keep wisdom teeth from developing?

Wisdom teeth develop for most people during their late teens or in early adulthood, but it would certainly be better if they didn't. These teeth pose a threat to the dental health of the individuals who have them, and can require extensive and expensive dental work to remove. In the past, researchers have been unsure why certain people have these teeth descend while others do not. Recently, researchers discovered that one thing that may be keeping these teeth at bay is local dental anesthesia.

Scientists from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine found that children who received local dental anesthesia between the ages of 2 and 6 appeared to be less likely to have lower wisdom teeth develop than those who did not

A simple solution
Anthony Silvestri, D.M.D., clinical professor in the department of prosthodontics and operative dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, said in a statement that it is exciting to think that such a simple procedure could potentially keep lower wisdom teeth from growing. Not only is giving a shot of local anesthesia easy, but it's also minimally invasive and cost-effective compared to the work required to remove these teeth once they have descended and caused crowding in the mouth. 

Unlike other teeth, wisdom teeth do not begin developing until later in life. Between the ages of 2 and 6, wisdom teeth buds develop, and they will descend in the late teens or slightly later. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons states that nine out of every 10 people will have an impacted wisdom tooth, which can cause pain and may easily become infected. This is why many dentists remove these teeth for the health of their patients. 

To come to their conclusions, researchers examined the dental records of patients who had received treatment in the Tufts pediatric dental clinic between ages 2 and 6. 

"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 said in a statement. "Dentists have been giving local anesthesia to children for nearly 100 years and may have been preventing wisdom teeth from forming without even knowing it."

More on wisdom teeth 
Just as not everyone gets wisdom teeth, not everyone who does has to have them removed. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist will likely recommend that wisdom teeth be removed if they are painful, infected or cause gum disease and damage to the adjacent teeth. A dentist may also want to remove these teeth as part of an orthodontic treatment plan. If people do not have their wisdom teeth removed, they will have to have them monitored to make sure that no issues develop, since the mouth is constantly changing. 

Checking for the development of wisdom teeth is one of the many things that the dentist will do at a patient's bi-annual appointment. The earlier wisdom teeth are removed, the less likely they are to cause damage to the mouth, which is why it's important for people to keep their regular dental appointments. 

Oral surgery to remove wisdom teeth can be expensive if people don't have dental insurance. This is why individuals without coverage should purchase a discount dental plan to help them afford the necessary care they need before these unnecessary teeth become a serious oral health issue. 

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