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Question
Hi Dr. Tieg,

I was wondering if it was possible for 3rd molar extractions to change the face? A dentist told me you lose 2-4mm in facial height/width for any tooth extraction and I am completely despondent over this..I think my face has gotten narrower/less full as well..I think I'm going to through with getting dental implants to regenerate the bone/restore my normal face. (Though I know it's not usually done) What are your thoughts on this? Thanks so much for your time and expertise.

Answer
Victoria -it is true that certain teeth that are removed can alter facial dimensions and appearance.  There are only eight teeth that are considered the foundation for the bite and face.  These teeth are the four first molars (also called the twelve year molars) and the four eye teeth.

The 3rd molars are definitely known not to be part of foundation.  The dentist who told you this is either very stupid or not honest and reliable.  First molar implants might be necessary to support the facial structure, but not the wisdom teeth.  So forget the implants for facial changes.

Please feel free to get back to me if you have any further questions.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired

Expertise

I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.

Experience

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

Organizations
American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Education/Credentials
BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

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