Who wouldn’t want to do away with wisdom teeth? They are almost always impacted, turned sideways, or causing silent damage in the farthest corners of your mouth. For most patients, these teeth tend to be non-functional, if they even grow in at all. Whether these teeth manage to grow in or not, there’s always the strong chance that they will require oral surgery in the future.

Although most of us are born with all four wisdom teeth (third molars), some people seem to only develop two or three of them, and some never even get one! Dental researchers at Tuft University investigated that claims that some people never develop wisdom teeth, and they uncovered an interesting pattern:

A large percentage of children who received local dental anesthesia (complete nerve block of the inferior alveolar nerve) in the lower jaw younger than the age of 6 failed to develop their lower set of third molars.

The results of the study suggest that the development of the third molars might be interrupted by the use of local dental anesthesia in the rear of the lower jaw. Between the ages of 2 and 6, these teeth start off as tiny buds in the jawbone that will eventually mature into full-grown molars. The buds are located very close to the nerve pathway that must be numbed in order to perform dental treatment on the lower teeth.

When a child requires a dental filling during these years, there is the possibility that the growth of these delicate tooth buds can be stopped if they are damaged by the dental injection. Although this cause-and-effect relationship has not been fully proven, it certainly opens the door to more research on the subject. It also presents an intriguing and valid question: Is it possible to develop a clinical technique that would prevent the growth and development of unwanted third molars?

Preventing the growth of third molars and reducing the need for the related oral surgery procedures could revolutionize the dental experience. If you still have your wisdom teeth, or for more information about the future of this theory, contact our dual degree oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Chicago’s premiere dental surgery clinic, ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio.