A comparative pan-oral radiographic survey of third molars in black and in Indian South Africans

Perumal, C J
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Although third molar removal is one of the most frequently undertaken surgical procedures, there is little information on the causes and patterns of impacted third molars in various population groups. Prophylactic removal of disease free third molars (M3s) is highly controversial, as is the risk of post-operative complications. Aims and Objectives The aims and objectives of this study were: To determine and compare the frequency, angulations, depth and distance of impacted M3s in black and Indian South Africans. Materials and methods One thousand and six hundred panoral radiographs of black and Indian South Africans were collected from a private Maxillo-facial practice in Durban. The frequency, angulations, depth and distance of impactions was determined. The impacted M3s (third molars) were classified according to these parameters. xiv Results The study consisted of a balanced sample of 564 Indians and 564 black patients. There was no difference in racial and gender frequency between the two racial groups. There were a total of 2483 impacted teeth giving a frequency of 67. 8%. In the black patients, the frequency of impactions was 37. 8%. In Indian patients the frequency of impacted M3s was 31. 4%. This difference was highly significant. There was a significant difference in the numbers of impacted, non-impacted and missing M3s between the two groups. No significance in angle of impactions was noted. However, there was an extremely significant difference in the depth and distance of impactions between the two groups (Table 5 and 6). Conclusion The frequency of M3 impaction has been determined and using a standardized system the impacted M3s have been classified according to the angle of impaction, the vertical depths and to their antero-posterior distance between the mesial surface of the M3 and the anterior border of the ramus of the mandible. These parameters were statistically compared in the Indians and black groups. It is now possible to adequately define the severity of the impactions and should together with the variables such as the patient’s age and association of the tooth roots with the inferior dental canal, allow the maxillofacial and oral surgeon to determine the degree of difficulty of removal of the M3s, and to advise patients accordingly