Am J Public Health. 2014 Feb 13. [Epub ahead of print]
Objectives. We investigated outcomes of third molar removal or retention in adolescents and young adults. Methods. We recruited patients aged 16 to 22 years from a dental practice-based research network in the Pacific Northwest from May 2009 through September 2010 who had at least 1 third molar present and had never undergone third molar removal. Data were acquired via questionnaire and clinical examination at baseline, periodic online questionnaires, and clinical examination at 24 months. Results. A total of 801 patients participated. Among patients undergoing third molar removal, rates of paresthesia and jaw joint symptoms lasting more than 1 month were 6.3 and 34.3 per 100 person-years, respectively. Among patients not undergoing removal, corresponding rates were 0.7 and 8.8. Periodontal attachment loss at distal sites of second molars did not significantly differ by third molar removal status. Incident caries at the distal surfaces of second molars occurred in fewer than 1% of all sites. Conclusions. Rates of paresthesia and temporomandibular joint disorder were higher after third molar removal. Periodontal attachment loss and incident caries at the distal sites of second molars were not affected by extraction status. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print February 13, 2014: e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301649).