Helping to protect the long-term health of our patients’ teeth remains the top concern at our Erie family dentistry. However, not all teeth work to equally protect and improve a patient’s smile.
Wisdom teeth play a unique role in your oral health development. Unlike your primary teeth, which form after baby teeth fall out, wisdom teeth form during the late teens, early 20s.
Located at the back of the mouth near the molars, wisdom teeth don’t always form without causing problems. Since they develop late, wisdom teeth can form crooked, crowded, or misaligned. In some cases, wisdom teeth can become impacted, meaning they grow without ever breaking through the gum line. This can cause patients a great deal of discomfort, which is one of the reasons why wisdom teeth are removed.
The hard to reach nature of wisdom teeth also make them difficult to properly clean. Food particles and oral bacteria can accumulate around wisdom teeth, making these teeth a primary source of dental decay and disease in the mouth.
While some patients can live with their wisdom teeth, most need to have their teeth removed to keep their other teeth healthy and their smile intact.
Patients who have their wisdom teeth removed can also enjoy an improved ability to taste, even decades following their surgery, finds the results of a recent new study.
Published in the journal Chemical Senses, the study marks one of the first time researchers have analyzed the long-term effects wisdom tooth extraction has on taste.
While earlier studies have suggested that wisdom tooth removal may have a negative impact on a patient’s ability to taste, this new study shows that taste function can actually improve in the years following the procedure.
Further Benefits to Wisdom Tooth Removal
As part of the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine examined data collected from over 1,200 patients who’d undergone an evaluation of their smell and taste over a 20-year period. Among individuals in that group, 891 patients had undergone wisdom tooth removal and 364 had not.
The sensory test includes five different concentrations of citric acid, salt, caffeine, and sugar. Participants swished each solution around in their mouths and were asked if they tasted bitter, sour, salty, or sweet.
The participants who’d undergone wisdom tooth removal outperformed the control group for each of the four tastes, and in all cases, women were able to outperform men. The results of the study suggest that people who undergone an extraction experienced an improvement – between three to 10 percent – in their ability to taste.
Researchers hypothesized two possible explanations for this phenomenon.
First, wisdom tooth removal may cause some damage to the nerves that trigger taste buds located at the front of the mouth. But this may also lead to the nerves at the back of the mouth becoming more sensitive, thereby increasing the mouth’s ability to taste overall.
Second, wisdom tooth removal may lead to the development of hypersensitivity in the mouth. This leads to improved taste bud performance and a greater ability to taste overall.
Ultimately, researchers concluded that any concerns over wisdom tooth removal leading to poor taste bud function over the long term are greatly overblown. Rather, wisdom tooth removal may actually improve taste function while also lowering a patient’s risk for dental decay and disease.
At Our Erie Family Dentistry, Your Care is Our Primary Concern
Wisdom teeth can cause a variety of problems if allowed to develop incorrectly. While earlier concerns over impaired taste may have contributed to some patients delaying treatment, the results of this latest study help to alleviate that concern.
If your wisdom teeth cause you any discomfort, you need to visit our Erie family dentistry. Our doctors can examine the development of your wisdom teeth and recommend whether removal is necessary.
Don’t let your wisdom teeth ruin your smile. Contact the team at Impression Dental today for your wisdom tooth consultation.