Pulling wisdom teeth can improve long-term taste function, research finds
Patients who had their wisdom teeth extracted had improved tasting abilities decades after having the surgery, a new Penn Medicine, USA study published in the journal Chemical Senses found. The findings challenge the notion that removal of wisdom teeth, only has the potential for negative effects on taste, and represent one of the first studies to analyse the long-term effects of extraction on taste.
Senior author Richard L. Doty, PhD, director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania said: “Prior studies have only pointed to adverse effects on taste after extraction and it has been generally believed that those effects dissipate over time. This new study shows us that taste function can actually slightly improve between the time patients have surgery and up to 20 years later. It’s a surprising but fascinating finding that deserves further investigation to better understand why it’s enhanced and what it may mean clinically”.
Doty and co-author Dane Kim evaluated data from 1,255 patients who had undergone a chemosensory evaluation at Penn’s Smell and Taste Center over the course of 20 years. Among that group, 891 patients had received wisdom tooth extractions and 364 had not.
The “whole-mouth identification” test incorporates five different concentrations of sucrose, sodium chloride, citric acid, and caffeine. The extraction group outperformed the control group for each of the four tastes. The study suggests that people who have received extractions in the distant past experience, on average, an enhancement (typically a 3-10% improvement) in their ability to taste.