Panoramic and periapical radiographies are widely used in maxillofacial surgery in the preoperative planning for the extraction of third molars. In this study the accuracy of these two radiographic techniques in evaluating the root morphology of third molars in a sample of patients operated at the School of Dentistry, UFPel/Brazil was investigated. One hundred third molars were analyzed before extraction through periapical and panoramic radiographic exams, and clinically examined right after extraction (gold standard). The number of roots, root morphology and presence of radicular dilacerations were evaluated. Independent calibrated examiners evaluated the radiographies and the teeth after extraction. Data were compared using t tests ( p < 0.05). A predominance of third molars with one root or fused roots was verified both in the radiographic and clinical evaluations. In the clinical evaluation, 40% of the teeth showed radicular dilacerations, whereas 29% and 36% of radicular dilacerations were observed in the panoramic and periapical exams, respectively. For most of the conditions, statistically significant differences between the gold standard and the image exams were detected. No significant differences between the panoramic and periapical radiographies were observed. In conclusion, both the panoramic and periapical radiographic exams were generally found to not be accurate in the diagnosis of root morphology of third molars compared to the clinical analysis.
Conflict of interest: None declared.