Third molar agenesis in modern humans with and without agenesis of other teeth.

Scheiwiller, Maya; Oeschger, Elias S.; Gkantidis, Nikolaos (2020). Third molar agenesis in modern humans with and without agenesis of other teeth. PeerJ, 8, e10367. PeerJ, Ltd 10.7717/peerj.10367

peerj-10367.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (1MB) | Preview


The number of teeth in the human dentition is of interest both from developmental and evolutionary aspects. The present case-control study focused on the formation of third molars in modern humans aiming to shed more light on the most variable tooth class in the dentition.

Materials and Methods

For this reason, we investigated third molar formation in a sample of 303 individuals with agenesis of teeth other than third molars (agenesis group) and compared it to a sex and age matched control group of 303 individuals without agenesis of teeth other than third molars.


The prevalence of third molar agenesis in the agenesis group was 50.8%, which is significantly higher than the 20.5% in the control group (p < 0.001). The chance of a missing third molar in the agenesis group was increased by 38.3% (p < 0.001), after controlling for the agenesis in other teeth factor. When considering the amount of missing third molars per individual, a clear tendency towards more missing third molars was evident in the agenesis group compared to the control group. The frequency of bilaterally missing third molars in the agenesis group was 29% in the maxilla, as well as in the mandible, which is about three times higher than the frequency of unilaterally missing third molars (p < 0.001). In the control group, bilaterally missing third molars occurred in 8.6% in the maxilla and 8.9% in the mandible.


The present results indicate that genetic factors involved in tooth agenesis affect also the dentition as a whole. Furthermore, the third molars are more vulnerable to factors involved in agenesis of other teeth and they are more often affected as a whole. These findings seem to be associated with the evolutionary trend in humans towards reduced molar number.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > School of Dental Medicine > Department of Orthodontics

UniBE Contributor:

Oeschger, Elias Sebastian and Gkantidis, Nikolaos


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




PeerJ, Ltd




Renate Imhof-Etter

Date Deposited:

24 Dec 2020 08:34

Last Modified:

11 Mar 2021 08:55

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Congenital abnormalities Development Evolution Hypodontia Non-syndromic Permanent dentition Third molars Tooth agenesis




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback