A recent study in US has found that patients who have their wisdom tooth extracted had an improvement in tasting abilities after some years of extraction.
It has always been assumed that third molar extractions only have the potential to negatively impact taste sensations for the patient in future. This is the first ever study carried out to actually monitor long term effects of third molar extraction on taste.
“Prior studies have only pointed to adverse effects on taste after extraction and it has been generally believed that those effects dissipate over time,” said Dr Richard Doty, director of the Smell and Taste Centre at the University of Pennsylvania.
“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.”
· An Interesting survey: Whole-mouth identification
Data from around 1255 patients were evaluated who had undergone a chemosensory evaluation at Penn’s Smell and Taste centre. Amongst them, 891 patients had undergone third molar extraction.
The patients were evaluated on the basis of ‘Whole-mouth identification’ test which incorporates five different concentrations of sucrose, sodium chloride, citric acid and caffeine. They were asked to sip the solutions, swish them in the mouth and then spit out. Then they had to identify whether the solution tasted sweet, salty, sour or bitter.
The results were astonishing since the group that had undergone extraction outperformed the control group for each of the four tastes, and also women outperformed men in the study. According to the study, there was an increase in taste perception by three to ten percent in the people who had undergone extraction in the distant past.
“Further studies are needed to determine the mechanism or mechanisms behind the extraction-related improvement in taste function,” Dr Doty said. “The effects are subtle but may provide insight into how long-term improvement in neural function can result from altering the environment in which nerves propagate.”
Source: Chemical Senses