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The Future of Dentistry: Laser Away Wisdom Buds

April 7th, 2008 · No Comments

third molar

A diode laser might be able to stop the development of third molars, according to a paper published in 2007. If this procedure becomes available, it could save millions of people from having to undergo tooth extraction each year. Of all the 20 year olds in the world, and estimated 65% have one or more impacted wisdom teeth. About 80% of the entire population will experience problems with their wisdom teeth.

An article in US News and World Report (February 14 , 2008 by Lindsay Lyon), tells us that Dr. Anthonly Silvestri, the director of dental anatomy and occlusion for the dental school at Tufts University, foresees a day when lasers will prevent wisdom buds from developing. In another article, Silvestri stated that third molars may have been important for prehistoric humans, but no so much for us. A paper published by Silvestri, Mirko Mirkov, and RJ Connoly, cites experiments performed on newborn rats and beagle puppies in which a diode laser was used to effectively stop the development of wisdom tooth buds.

Children develop third molars around the age of five, so in theory, by treating third molar buds before this age, a dentist could eliminate wisdom teeth in the patient and potentially prevent problems later in life. Wisdom teeth can cause crowding and are difficult to clean, so they are prone to develop caries and promote gum disease. Impacted wisdom teeth can develop infection and cause pain. Because third molar roots continue to grow as we age, oral health professionals generally recommend that patients have third molars removed in late teen hood or early adulthood. Older patients can face a more traumatic experience.

Silvetstri, Mirkov, Connoly Paper, Sept. 2007
US News and World Report, Feb. 14, 2008

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