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British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 46 (2008) 133–135

Short communication
Routine antibiotic prophylaxis is not necessary during
operations to remove third molars
Hanife Ataoğlu ∗ , Gülsün Yildirim Öz, Celal Çandirli, Dilek Kiziloğlu
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Selçuk, Konya, Turkiye

Accepted 8 November 2006

Available online 22 December 2006


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of antibiotic prophylaxis during removal of impacted third molars. We studied 150
patients with impacted mandibular or maxillary third molars who were divided randomly into three groups. The first was given amoxicillin
2 g combined with clavulanic acid, orally daily for 5 days postoperatively; starting at the end of the operation. The second group was given
the same drugs but the regimen started 5 days before the operation. The third was given no antibiotics. Pain, infection, swelling, alveolar
osteitis, and interincisal mouth opening (mm) were evaluated. There were no significant differences among the groups in the incidence of
these complications. We cannot recommend routine oral antibiotic prophylaxis in third molar surgery.
© 2006 The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Impacted third molars; Antibiotic prophylaxis; Postoperative complication

Patients and methods All operations were done under local anaesthesia (2% arti-
caine with adrenaline 1:100000) in the same operating theatre
A total of 150 healthy patients who had taken no antibiotics with the same type of instruments by two oral surgeons with
or anti-inflammatory drugs within 30 days before opera- more than 2 years’ experience, and under similar conditions.
tion were selected for extraction of impacted maxillary or Immediately before operation all patients rinsed for 1 min
mandibular third molars. They were divided randomly into with a 0.12% clorhexidine mouthwash. The technique was
three groups (n = 50 in each). The first group was given standardised. All wounds were closed primarily using 3.0
amoxicillin 1 g with clavulanic acid orally twice daily start- silk sutures, and no dressings or haemostatic agents were
ing directly after operation for 5 days. The second group used. The postoperative course was checked clinically on
had the same regimen but starting 5 days before operation. the second and seventh days postoperatively by the surgeon
The third group (controls) was given no prophylaxis. Each who had done the operation, and the postoperative symptoms
patient was given naproxen sodium 275 mg (Kapnax Fort, were scored according to the evaluation criteria. Sutures were
İlsan Hexal, Turkey), and clorhexidine gluconate with ben- removed on day 7.
zydamine hydrochloride as a mouth rinse (Andorex, Delta The following details were recorded on the second and
Vital, Turkey) orally twice a day for 5 days starting at the end seventh postoperative days: swelling, infection, alveolar
of the operation. osteitis scores using two grades (presence or absence), and
interincisal mouth opening (mm). Pain was evaluated for 7
days using a visual analogue scale. Maximum interincisal
∗ Corresponding author at: Selçuk Üniversitesi, Dişhekimliği Fakültesi, distance was measured with a caliper micrometer (always by
Ağız, Diş, Çene Hastalıkları ve Cerrahisi Bölümü, Selçuklu- 42079, the same person). The patient was asked to open the mouth
Kampüs/Konya, Turkiye. Tel.: +90 332 223 11 55; as wide as possible and the distance between the upper and
fax: +90 332 241 00 62.
E-mail address: (H. Ataoğlu).
lower central incisors was measured.

0266-4356/$ – see front matter © 2006 The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
134 H. Ataoğlu et al. / British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 46 (2008) 133–135

Table 1
Details of patients
Group Sex Mean (S.D.) Site of teeth
Women Men Age (years) Mandible Maxilla
Postoperative antibiotic 44 6 23 (5) 43 7
Preoperative antibiotic 40 10 23 (4) 41 9
Control 40 10 21 (4) 35 15

Table 2 use of antimicrobials can result in adverse outcomes, and

Mean (S.D.) maximum interincisal distance (mm) there is a general trend to overprescribe antimicrobials.6
Group Before Postoperative Postoperative The risks of indiscriminate prescribing include the develop-
operation day 2 day 7 ment of resistant organisms, secondary infection, toxicity,
Postoperative antibiotic 45 (6) 33 (9) 42 (6) and the development of allergic reactions.7 It is estimated
Preoperative antibiotic 41 (5) 33 (8) 39 (6) that 6–7% of patients who are given antibiotics have some
Control 44 (5) 35 (10) 41 (6)
kind of adverse reaction.8 The estimated rate of infection
after removal of an impacted third molar is less than 1%, so
the efficacy of such drugs is questionable.9,10
Table 3 An important point in the debate about prophylactic antibi-
Complications (n = 50 in each group)
otics is their timing. There is evidence that giving antibiotics
Complication Antibiotic Control preoperatively may reduce the incidence of postoperative
Preoperative Postoperative wound infections.11 In our study, the antibiotic was pre-
Pain (VAS 40 or more) 3 2 3 scribed postoperatively for the first group and preoperatively
Swelling that limited 3 4 3 for the second group, and there were neither clinical nor
chewing or speaking statistical differences.
Alveolar osteitis 0 1 0 There is growing concern about the misuse of antibiotics
Wound infection
Early 6 8 7
during removal of impacted third molars. We found no sig-
Late 1 1 2 nificant difference between the three groups regarding the
variables evaluated, and our results show that routine antibi-
otic prophylaxis is unwarranted for routine operations to
remove third molars in healthy patients.

There were 26 men and 124 women; their details are given
in Table 1. There were 69 vertically impacted third molars
(46%), 61 mesioangular (41%), 14 horizontal (9%), 5 dis-
This study was supported by Selcuk University Scientific
toangular (3%), and 1 buccolingual. Interincisal distances are
Research Fund with the project number of 05701106.
shown in Table 2.
Postoperative pain was evaluated for 7 days after extrac-
tion on a 100 mm horizontal visual analogue scale (VAS),
where the end points were marked “no pain” and “unbear- References
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