How Many Teeth Do We Lose in a Lifetime?

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

So how many teeth are we supposed to have?

Answer? Most adults are born to have 32 teeth. These include 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 12 molars (including 4 wisdom teeth). Most people have a complete set of adult teeth by the time they reach their teenage years. Wisdom teeth though can create complications. As they grow in they may not be enough room in the jawbone to grow in properly. So often dental specialist suggest that they are removed. Still, that would leave most healthy adults with 28 teeth.

During the course of our lives, reality alters the course of our dental health. A variety of factors – cavities, periodontal disease, bone loss, or trauma – may result in the loss of teeth.

The National Institute of Health has the data on the average number teeth women and men retain at a given age:

Age 21 to 34 – 26.90; Age 35 to 49 – 25.05, Age 50 – 64 – 22.30. Women lose teeth at a slightly higher rate than men.

However, tooth loss accelerates in one’s senior years. Age 65 to 74 is 19.34. And Age 75 plus is 18.38 teeth remaining. All on average, of course.

The statistics follow the typical patterns related to money, health, and education. Having money, good overall health, and better education improve your chance for keeping your teeth. However, the reality is that most of us will face tooth loss during our lifetime.

So the next question is what are our recourses? Depends on are a variety of factors.

We went to Dr. Rich Nejat, a leading Manhattan specialist in all things dental, to get his view on the issue: “Dental implants are a good answer for single tooth loss. If there are several teeth lost together making a large gap between teeth, a bridge may make better sense. All depends on individual circumstances. There is never any one right answer for everyone.”

So the question arises: If there is no blanket answer that is right, what makes one a good candidate for a tooth implant?

“They should have healthy gums. We don’t want to do an implant into unhealthy tissue. If there is a problem, the first step is to restore the health of the gums. Unfortunately some so-called implant specialists” may neglect this step. It is critical because it avoids issues later on that could result in further tooth loss.

“And then we need to make sure there is enough bone to anchor the implants into the jaw. If there is not enough bone, we may first need to rebuild the jaw. In such cases, we might recommend a bridge over an implant.

Then there is the person himself. Implanted teeth require good oral hygiene – just like any other tooth. Gum disease around the implanted teeth can jeopardize the success of the implant – sometimes requiring that the implanted tooth be removed.”

And what are the reasons a person may not be a good candidate?

“Well, first we do not do implants on children and young teenagers. We need their jawbone to be fully mature. We don’t want to do an implant and then have the jaw continue to grow, causing the implants to become loose or fracture.

“People who habitually grind their teeth may be problematic. The grinding may inadvertently affect how the implanted tooth sits in the jaw.

“We generally tell pregnant women to wait till after they have given birth.

“Cancer patients would have to be individually evaluated. You don’t want to do an implant with someone who is under or recently had radiation or chemotherapy treatments. These treatments impact a person’s immune system and thus may affect how well the mouth and gums heal. This is also true with anyone who has a health issue that can compromise one’s immune system. This may include diabetes, connective tissue diseases, hemophilia, etc.

“So one should go to a dental implant who sees a patient in the context of someone total health. For example, a good dentist will enquire about all the medications a patient takes. Some medications can block healing and bone ossification – the process that binds the implant to the natural jawbone.

“Alcoholism and other substance abuse issues are another red flag.

“But after all is said and done. The vast majority of people are good candidates for a tooth implant. And even from a price point of view, implants are usually a cost effective solution. Most other options for replacing missing teeth usually require ongoing evaluation, maintenance, and care. Over the long haul, other tooth replacement options can be expensive than the one time cost of an implant – that in most cases will last a lifetime.”

For more information, contact Dr. Richard Nejat at
Advanced Periodontics and Implant Dentistry
Address: 110 E 40th St #500, New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 581-1090