Third molars, also called wisdom teeth, usually appear between the ages of 17 and 26. Since these teeth grow in a confined space, they can often rest against the second molars, which, in turn, can lead to the development of a number of diseases – from damage to the roots of the teeth to periodontitis. Therefore, dentists, including Russian ones, recommend proactively removing wisdom teeth, while they have not yet begun to cause inconvenience to their owner.
However, in the scientific community there is still no consensus about the advisability of this procedure: as you know, there is nothing superfluous in the human body. For example, one study showed that dental health does not depend on the removal of third molars. In addition, it is believed that this procedure can negatively affect the perception of taste. A new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has at least allayed these concerns.
Experts studied data from 1,255 patients who underwent chemosensory testing of smell and taste for 20 years. 891 people had their third molars removed, the rest did not. The taste functions of all participants were tested using solutions of sucrose, sodium chloride, citric acid and caffeine at various concentrations. Patients were required to rinse the solution through their mouth, spit it out, and then report whether the liquid tasted sweet, salty, sour, or bitter.
All participants with wisdom teeth extracted had an average of 3-10% better perception of all four tastes than those who did not undergo this procedure. It is noteworthy that the highest rates were observed in women.
According to scientists, this phenomenon can be explained by two reasons. First, removing the third molars can weaken the nerves that supply receptors in the back of the mouth, and this leads to an increase in the sensitivity of the entire cavity. In addition, it is well known that after damage to peripheral nerves, their sensitivity can increase.
“Our study provides strong evidence that removal of the third molar has long-term, albeit marginal, positive effects on taste in some people,” the researchers said, noting that larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.