Morphologic and Demographic Predictors of Third Molar Agenesis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

J Dent Res. 2015 Jul;94(7):886-94. doi: 10.1177/0022034515581644. Epub 2015 Apr 16.


We aimed to consolidate all available data on worldwide third molar agenesis frequencies, with a particular emphasis on exploring the factors leading authors to find contradictory results for the demographic and morphologic predictors of this anomaly. A total of 12,376 studies were originally identified, then narrowed down to 1,312 for title/abstract screening. On the basis of our inclusion and exclusion criteria, we selected 92 studies, containing 100 effect sizes and 63,314 subjects, for systematic review and metaregression. The worldwide rate of agenesis was found to be 22.63% (95% confidence interval = 20.64% to 24.76%), although the estimates ranged from 5.32% to 56.0%. Our subgroup analyses revealed that women are 14% more likely than men to have agenesis of ≥1 third molars and that maxillary agenesis was 36% more likely than mandibular agenesis in both sexes. Furthermore, we found that having agenesis of 1 or 2 molars was most common, while agenesis of 3 or 4 molars was least common. Finally, we found large differences among agenesis frequency depending on geographic region. This information is expected to be of use not only to clinicians and patients but also to policy makers, given the implications for third molar extraction protocols.

Keywords: anatomy; continental population groups; growth and development; hypodontia; oral pathology; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anodontia / epidemiology*
  • Anodontia / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mandible / pathology
  • Maxilla / pathology
  • Molar, Third / abnormalities*
  • Publication Bias
  • Sex Factors