Impacted Wisdom Teeth Subject of Masters Research
The incidence of people in Durban who have impacted third molar teeth was the focus of research by UKZN Department of Clinical Anatomy masters student, Ms Sundika Ishwarkumar.
The study is titled: “Prevalence of impacted third molar teeth in the Great Durban Metropolitan population”.
Ishwarkumar said tooth impaction was a pathological condition in which a tooth was completely or partially unerupted and positioned against another tooth, bone or soft tissue, thus preventing it erupting.
‘We classified third molars according to Winter’s and Pell and Gregory’s classification scheme. We also looked at the morphometric analysis of the mandible.’
She said impacted teeth were often associated with pericoronitis, incisor crowding, resorption of the adjacent tooth roots and temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction.
The study aims to assist orthodontists in surgical procedures in areas of early prediction, evaluation and possible treatment of impacted third molar teeth and in future prevention with the use of gene therapy.
According to Ishwarkumar, the development of the third molar is used as a tool by many forensic dentists to assign age to young adults who have been victims of violent crimes, fires and accidents.
The study found: ‘A 77.9% prevalence of impacted third molars was recorded, with a male to female ratio of 1: 1.1. Impacted third molars were more prevalent in the mandible than maxilla. Mesio-angulation was most prevalent in the mandible while vertical angulation was most frequent in the maxilla. Class IIB and class A were most prevalent in the mandible and maxilla, respectively. The 20-25 year age group showed the highest prevalence of impacted third molars.’
Ishwarkumar said all the morphometric parameters of the male mandible were greater than female. ‘The length of the mandibular ramus can be considered as an indispensible tool in sex determination,’ she added.
The findings of this study may assist maxillofacial and dental surgeons, dentist, anthropologist, anatomist and forensic investigators.
According to Ishwarkumar, her study is the first of its kind conducted in the Durban area.
Ishwarkumar is currently doing her Masters in Medical Science Anatomy. She is at the editing stages of her thesis and is preparing her articles for publication.She plans to pursue a PhD in anatomy next year.
‘I’m also engaged in additional research projects with the Department of Clinical Anatomy. My passion lies in forensic anthropology.’