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Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2010 Dec;138(6):700.e1-8; discussion 700-1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2010.06.013.

Recovery after third-molar surgery: the effects of age and sex.

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  • 1Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7450, USA. Ceib_phillips@dentistry.unc.edu



In this study, we assessed the effects of age and sex on quality-of-life recovery after third-molar surgery.


Healthy subjects scheduled for removal of third molars were recruited at multiple sites for this study. Each patient was given a condition-specific instrument to be completed each postsurgery day for 14 days. Lifestyle and oral-function recovery were assessed by using a 5-point Likert-type scale. Recovery was defined as the number of days until the patient reported no or little trouble. Recovery from pain was defined as the number of days until no medications were taken. For each quality-of-life item, a Cox regression analysis was performed to assess the effects of age and sex on recovery after controlling for surgical-procedure variables.


Nine hundred fifty-eight subjects treated at 9 academic centers and 12 community practices were enrolled. Except for ability to open the mouth, recovery for all quality-of-life items for those 21 years or older significantly (P < 0.02) lagged behind recovery for younger subjects. Recovery for female subjects was significantly longer than for male subjects for all outcomes (P < 0.01).


Patients older than 21 and those who are female should be informed before removal of all 4 third molars that their oral function, lifestyle, and pain recovery will be prolonged compared with those who are younger and male.

Copyright © 2010 American Association of Orthodontists. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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