Sacrifice One Tooth to Benefit the Jaw

A recent study by Associate Professor Koray Halicioglu and his team have shone light on the martyr we know as our first molars.

People are petrified of the dentist, and there’s a nasty image painted of the rusty pliers, long needles and powerful drills used to tear out our perfectly good teeth.

my teeth attempt 2

X-ray of Human Teeth. Photo credit: K Redston

But this new study shows that taking out the first permanent molars allows for not only healthier teeth in the long term, but also helps wisdom teeth erupt faster.

Eruption doesn’t always involve volcanoes

We’ve all encountered the eruption of teeth even if you don’t remember it. Eruption is the term given when a tooth breaks out of the gum and is visible in the mouth. Teething in babies is eruption of first teeth, or milk teeth. These are the teeth we lose when our permanent ones come in.

Teething is not a fun experience. Ask any mother about it.

Erupt quickly and erupt well

The pain babies go through during teething is obvious, and for anyone who knows much about wisdom teeth coming through, it’s not necessarily a pain-free experience for all of us.

It makes sense then, that we would want those teeth erupting as fast as possible.

Koray’s study used x-rays of 945 adolescents in Turkey who had wisdom teeth that hadn’t erupted yet. The patients had their first molars removed from one side of the jaw and the researchers used the other side as a control.

The researchers noticed a huge difference in the eruption rate between the two sides.

To keep or not to keep?

The study also found that the first molar was the most common tooth to be removed by dentists.

I bet you are wondering why.

The first molar is the first permanent molar to erupt, therefore experiences the most wear.

It is the most likely to get cavities or experience hyperplasia, which is where the outside layer of the tooth becomes thin and creates holes in your teeth. And by taking it out, we also deal with the common problem of overcrowding.

Left – overcrowding Right – after braces. Photo credit: Jones Family Orthodonics

People care a lot about how their teeth look. Studies have shown the appearance of our own teeth strongly influence how we feel about ourselves, our confidence levels and could even play a role in how much we are paid.

It gets worse. If we believe everything we read, people might have us thinking keeping these cavity ridden teeth could give us coronary heart disease, dementia, poor breathing and infertility.

Making up your mind

Maybe it’s all speculation. Maybe keeping cavity ridden teeth won’t cause us heart attacks.

Let me ask the question you’re all thinking: is there really an option of making wisdom teeth eruption easier and quicker, stopping overcrowding, increasing overall health and helping build confidence?

This study suggests so.

I don’t know about you, but my first molar might be taking one for the team.

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