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Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2006 Oct;102(4):448-52. Epub 2006 May 11.

Do pathologies associated with impacted lower third molars justify prophylactic removal? A critical review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria. lanreadeyemo@yahoo.com


Surgical removal of impacted lower third molars is widely carried out in general dental practice and in many institutional clinics. Despite the fact that there are well established indications for the removal of impacted lower third molars, prophylactic removal of these teeth is still being universally practiced. Some reports have estimated that the proportion of impacted third molars that are removed when no clinically sound justification for surgery is present is between 18% and 50.7%. Justifications for prophylactic surgery include the need to minimize the risk of disease (cysts and tumors) development, reduction of the risk of mandibular angle fracture, increased difficulty of surgery with age, and that third molars have no definite role in the mouth. This article critically examines the literature regarding the relationship between impacted lower wisdom teeth, cysts and tumor development, and mandibular fractures.

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