Author(s): Willershausen B, Lffler N, Schulze R
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Abstract A total of 1202 orthopantograms of young dental patients were analyzed to assess the correlation of third molar root development with chronological age. The investigated patients were treated at a university dental clinic on an outpatient basis, included a variety of demographic characteristics (600 males and 602 females, 28\% of other than central European background), and were 15-24 years old when the radiographs were obtained. Radiographs in which more than one third molar were either missing due to agenesia or extraction, or not evaluable because of deep destruction or marked tilting, were not included in the analysis. Our findings show that the growth patterns of third molars, based on seven defined stages of root development, did correlate with chronological age; age estimation when applied to a specific individual would involve a margin of error of +/- 2-4 years. There were no significant differences between the left and right jaw segments, but the stage of root development was generally more advanced in the upper than in the lower third molars. Root development was also more advanced among boys than among girls of the same age. There were no apparent differences in growth patterns based on national/ethnic background. While only 2.5\% of 18-year-olds revealed fully developed third molars in all four quadrants, this percentage leaped to 38.4\% among the 21-year-olds. To summarize, while the developmental stage of third molars is not per se a highly useful indicator of chronological age in juveniles and young adults, it is nevertheless a valuable supplementary parameter given the scarcity of other available age indicators.
This article was published in Eur J Med Res
and referenced in Dentistry