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J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2013 Oct;71(10):1639-46. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2013.06.190. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

Removal of symptomatic third molars may improve periodontal status of remaining dentition.

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  • 1Chief Resident, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.



To assess the impact of third molar removal on the periodontal status of adjacent second molars and teeth more anterior in the mouth in patients with mild symptoms of pericoronitis.


Healthy patients with mild symptoms of pericoronitis affecting at least 1 mandibular third molar were recruited for a study approved by the institutional review board. The subset analyzed in this study had all 4 third molars removed. Data were collected at enrollment and at least 3 months after surgery. Full-mouth periodontal probing was conducted at 6 sites per tooth. A probing depth of at least 4 mm (PD4+) was considered an indicator for periodontal pathology. The presence of a PD4+ on the distal of second molars (D2Ms) or anterior to the D2Ms, the number of PD4+s, and extent scores (percentage of PD4+s of all possible probing sites) were assessed at the patient and jaw levels. The association between patients' pre- and postsurgical periodontal status was assessed using the McNemar exact test. The level of significance was set at .05.


The median age of the 69 patients was 21.8 years (interquartile range, 20.2 to 25.2 yr). Forty-five percent were men, and 57% were Caucasian. Significantly more patients (88%) had at least 1 D2M PD4+ at enrollment compared with after surgery (46%; P < .01). D2M extent scores decreased from 31.5 at enrollment to 11 after surgery. Significantly more patients (61%) had at least 1 PD4+ anterior to the D2M at enrollment compared with after surgery (29%; P < .01). Extent scores anterior to the D2M decreased from 2.0 at enrollment to 0.6 after surgery.


Removal of third molars in patients with mild pericoronitis symptoms improved the periodontal status of the D2Ms and teeth more anterior in the mouth.

Copyright © 2013 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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