The purpose of this investigation was to assess the frequency of complications of
third molar surgery, both intraoperatively and postoperatively, specifically for patients
25 years of age or older.
Materials and Methods
This prospective study evaluated 3,760 patients, 25 years of age or older, who were
to undergo third molar surgery by oral and maxillofacial surgeon’s practicing in the
United States. The predictor variables were categorized as demographic (age, gender),
American Society of Anesthesiologists’ classification, chronic conditions and medical
risk factors, and preoperative description of third molars (present or absent, type
of impaction, abnormalities or association with pathology). Outcome variables were
intraoperative and postoperative complications, as well as quality of life issues
(days of work missed or normal activity curtailed). Frequencies for data collected
The sample was provided by 63 surgeons, and was composed of 3,760 patients with 9,845
third molars who were 25 years of age or older, of which 8,333 third molars were removed.
Alveolar osteitis was the most frequently encountered postoperative problem (0.2%
to 12.7%). Postoperative inferior alveolar nerve anesthesia/paresthesia occurred with
a frequency of 1.1% to 1.7%, while lingual nerve anesthesia/paresthesia was calculated
as 0.3%. All other complications also occurred with a frequency of less than 1%.
The findings of this study indicate that third molar surgery in patients 25 years
of age or older is associated with minimal morbidity, a low incidence of postoperative
complications, and minimal impact on the patient’s quality of life.