The findings, published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, suggest it might be possible to deliberately prevent the development of the often-troublesome teeth, the team at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine said.
"It is intriguing to think that something as routine as local anesthesia could stop wisdom teeth from developing," says Dr. Anthony Silvestri, who oversaw the study.
The team just looked at children being treated at Tufts, and they only have a few hundred records, so the findings would have to be repeated in a larger group of children to be sure. But they suggest it might be possible to apply an already widely used medication to prevent the development of a common tooth problem.
As many as 5 million Americans get their wisdom teeth pulled every year. Medically known as third molars, these very back teeth usually emerge in the late teens or early 20s and they can sometimes cause trouble, pushing against other teeth. They are also difficult to clean and can become decayed.
Image: Child at dentist, via Shutterstock