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J Oral Pathol. 1988 Mar;17(3):113-7.

Pathological sequelae of "neglected" impacted third molars.

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Department Oral Diagnostic Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610.


An NIH conference on "Removal of Third Molars" debated the need for removal of asymptomatic impacted teeth with no evidence of pathology but stressed the need for long-range studies. The assumption is that "neglected" impacted third molars (ITMs) will sometime cause serious pathology. Examination of panoramic radiographs of 11,598 patients revealed 1,756 patients with 3,702 impacted teeth; average age 47 years, and an average retention period approximately 27 years. Dentigerous cystic changes occurred in about 30 ITMs (0.81%), internal resorption in 16 (0.43%), periodontal ligament damage and bone loss distal to the 2nd molar 166 times (4.48%), and pressure resorption of the 2nd molar 113 times (3.05%). No great surge in pathology occurred with increasing age. Some type of pathological change can be expected eventually in approximately 12.0% of an impacted 3rd molar population and 1.82% of the general population. A reappraisal of routine removal of ITMs might be indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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