Prevalence of missing and impacted third molars in adults aged 25 years and above

Imaging Sci Dent. 2013 Dec;43(4):219-25. doi: 10.5624/isd.2013.43.4.219. Epub 2013 Dec 12.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of missing and impacted third molars in people aged 25 years and above.

Materials and methods: The study sample of 3,799 patients was chosen randomly from patients who visited Pusan National University Dental Hospital and had panoramic radiographs taken. The data collected included presence and impaction state, angulation, and depth of impaction of third molars, and radiographically detected lesions of third molars and adjacent second molars.

Results: A greater percentage of men than women retained at least one third molar. The incidence of third molars decreased with increasing age. The incidence of partially impacted third molars greatly declined after the age of 30. Vertically impacted maxillary third molars and horizontally impacted mandibular third molars were most frequent in all age groups. Among the maxillary third molars, those impacted below the cervical line of the second molar were most frequent in all age groups, and among the mandibular third molars, deeply impacted third molars were most frequent in those aged over 40. Dental caries was the most common radiographic lesion of the third molars. Mesioangularly impacted third molars showed radiographic lesions in 13 (9.5%) adjacent maxillary second molars and 117 (27.4%) mandibular second molars.

Conclusion: The number of remaining third molars decreased and the percentage of Class C depth increased with age. Caries was the most frequent lesion in third molars. Partially impacted mesioangular third molars showed a high incidence of caries or periodontal bone loss of the adjacent second molar. Regular oral examination will be essential to keep asymptomatic third molars in good health.

Keywords: Dental Caries; Molar, Third; Radiography, Panoramic; Tooth, Impacted.