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A systematic review of second molar distal surface caries incidence in the context of third molar absence and emergence


Objective The aim of this systematic review was to gain a greater insight into the incidence rates of distal surface caries (DSC) on second permanent molars.

Data sources A literature search using the Cochrane Library, Lilacs, Embase and Medline via Ovid retrieved English and non-English language articles from inception to June 2016. The electronic searches were supplemented with reference searching and citation tracking. Reviewers independently and in duplicate performed data extraction and completed structured quality assessments using a validated risk of bias tool for observational studies and categorised the summary scores.

Data selection The search yielded 81 records and, after application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, two incidence studies were included in this systematic review.

Data extraction The DSC incidence was reported in one study as relative risk (RR = 2.53; 95% CI, 1.55 to 4.14) adjacent to erupted, (RR = 0.83; 95% CI, 0.11 to 6.04) soft tissue impacted and (RR = 1.44; 95% CI, 0.55 to 3.72) bony impacted third molars in comparison to when the third molar was absent with a 25-year follow-up. The second study reported a DSC incidence of 100 surface-years (1% of all sites) with an 18-month follow-up period.

Conclusions Both cohort studies indicated that DSC incidence was higher when third molars were erupted in the intermediate term, but greater over the long term for an ageing male population. However, further high-quality research is required to improve the accuracy of these findings.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Ingrid Zollinger from the University of Manchester Library Systematic Review Team for her advice on the search strategy.

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Correspondence to Verena Toedtling.

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The authors have no competing interest to declare. All authors have viewed and agreed to the submission. The research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Toedtling, V., Devlin, H., O’Malley, L. et al. A systematic review of second molar distal surface caries incidence in the context of third molar absence and emergence. Br Dent J 228, 261–266 (2020).

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