A sharp increase in forensic age estimation of living persons has been observed in recent years. However, ethnic populations residing in different countries have been insufficiently analyzed. According to 2004 data compiled by the Essen-based Turkey Research Center, there are 3.8 million Turkish people living abroad, and 3.2 million of them reside in European Union countries. Despite the high number of Turks living abroad, little is known about third-molar development for forensic application in this population. Hence, it was considered worthwhile to determine the developmental stages of the third molar in a group of Turkish population, to assess chronological age estimation based on the developmental stages, and to compare third molar development according to sex, age and location. Orthopantomograms of 1134 Turkish patients, ages 4-20 years were examined and third-molar developmental stages were evaluated based on Demirjian's classifications. Orthopantomograms were scored by two different observers, and Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test used to test intra- and inter-observer reliability revealed a strong agreement between both intra- and inter-observer measurements. Linear regression analysis was performed to correlate third-molar development and chronological age, and further statistical analysis was performed to determine the relation between sex, age and location. Results showed a strong linear correlation between age and molar development (males: r(2) = 0.57; females: r(2) = 0.56). Mineralizations of left and right third molars were compared using Wilcoxon tests, and no statistical differences were found. No significant differences were found in third-molar development between males and females. Mandibular third molar crypt formation was observed in 2.4% of patients at age seven and maxillary third molar crypt formation was observed in 1.3% of patients at age seven. A strong correlation was found between third-molar development and chronological age. Among the Turkish population, third molar crypt formation is observable at as early as 7 years in both the mandible and maxilla. Agenesis can be determined conclusively if no radiolucent bud is present by age 14. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.