Consent for third molar tooth extractions in Australia and New Zealand: a review of current practice

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Informed consent is the legal requirement to educate a patient about a proposed medical treatment or procedure so that he or she can make informed decisions. The purpose of the study was to examine the current practice for obtaining informed consent for third molar tooth extractions (wisdom teeth) by oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Australia and New Zealand.


An online survey was sent to 180 consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Australia and New Zealand. Surgeons were asked to answer (yes/no) whether they routinely warned of a specific risk of third molar tooth extraction in their written consent.


Seventy-one replies were received (39%). The only risks that surgeons agreed should be routinely included in written consent were a general warning of infection (not alveolar osteitis), inferior alveolar nerve damage (temporary and permanent) and lingual nerve damage (temporary and permanent).


There is significant variability among Australian and New Zealand oral and maxillofacial surgeons regarding risk disclosure for third molar tooth extractions. We aim to improve consistency in consent for third molar extractions by developing an evidence-based consent form.

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