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Int Dent J. 2017 Dec;67(6):360-370. doi: 10.1111/idj.12321. Epub 2017 Aug 2.

Assessment of the referral system for surgical removal of third molars at the Dental Faculty, King Saud University.

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Oral and Maxillofacial Department, Dental Faculty, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



There is compelling evidence that prophylactic extraction of third molars is a health problem that needs to be addressed. In particular, the vast amount of evidence demonstrating complications after removal of third molars, rather than supporting the necessity of removal or the negative effects of retention, raise this concern.


The aim of this study was to investigate the referral system for third molar extraction at our institution by assessing patient opinions and the experience of the oral surgeons and the referring dentists. The main outcome measures of concern were the reasons for third molar extraction, patient awareness about the surgery and the comorbidities that may accompany the surgery.


Pilot cross-sectional survey questionnaires were distributed at the Dental Faculty Clinic at King Saud University, from 15 March 2015 to 30 June 2016 by the staff in charge of the patient waiting area, oral surgery clinic, primary care clinic and specialist clinic.


Of 400 potential respondents, 226 completed the survey (response rate: 54%). Of these patients, 91% knew why they had been referred to the oral surgery department, but 73.5% did not understand the surgical extraction procedure or its complications. In total, 45.2% of the patients referred had no signs or symptoms, and 36% were referred for prophylactic reasons. In conclusion, our system needs reassessment. To combat the subjective health practice of routinely referring patients for prophylactic extraction, the role of primary care should be emphasised by implementing a system for regular patient check-ups, and public awareness should be increased.


Wisdom tooth; removal; retention; surgery

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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