Assess the association between the visible presence of 3rd molars and the severity of periodontal pathology on teeth more anterior in the mouth.
Subjects and Methods
This analysis included dentate participants 52 to 74 years old from the Dental Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (DARIC) Study who underwent an oral examination which included periodontal probing depths (PD) on all visible teeth including 3rd molars.
PD ≥4mm and clinical attachment level (CAL) ≥3mm were indicator variables for periodontal pathology. Explanatory variables were the presence or absence of visible 3rd molars. Covariates included: gender, ethnicity, age, income level, education, and smoking status.
Outcome variables for periodontal pathology were: mean PD, the extent (% probing sites) PD≥4mm, and the extent (% probing sites) CAL>3mm. Outcomes between subjects with visible 3rd molars and no visible 3rd molars were compared by descriptive statistics and Chi-square tests with significance set at 0.05. Multivariable modeling was performed using SAS Proc GLM to calculate least squared means adjusting for study outcome variables and covariates.
The DARIC sample consisted of 6,793 subjects; 80% were Caucasian and 19% African American. Most subjects (53%) were 62 to 74 years old and female (54%). Thirty percent of ARIC subjects, 2,035, had at least one visible 3rd molar. Having a visible 3rd molar was significantly associated with being: male, African American, less than the mean age of 62.4 years, and higher income or never smoking (all P<0.01).
Greater mean PD on 1st/2nd molars, the extent PD≥4mm on 1st/2nd molars, and the extent CAL≥3mm on 1st/2nd molars, were all significantly associated with having a visible 3rd molar in unadjusted and adjusted models.
In these middle-aged and older Americans, having a visible 3rd molar was significantly associated with more severe periodontal disease on teeth more anterior in the mouth as compared to subjects with no visible 3rd molars