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Dentistry by the Numbers

20 facts about teeth to chew on


Dental care is a huge industry. From cleanings, maintenance and repair to cosmetic changes like veneers, whitening and trends like in Japan, where young women are paying for “yaeba” or the cute, imperfect smile of “snaggletooth,” people are spending more than ever on dental care. According to a Health Policy Institute study by the American Dental Association, Americans spent $111 billion on dental care alone in 2012. We looked at the industry and found that there are as many interesting facts about dentistry as there are smiles in the world. Below, we have a list of 20 you can sink your teeth into:

1.There are 32 teeth in the human mouth. If the estimated 242,470,820 adults in the United States each had all of their teeth, that would be a total of 775,906,6240 teeth.

2.As of September 2014, Vijay Kumar, of India, holds the Guinness World Record for the most teeth in a mouth: 37.

3.Ashik Gavei, 17, also of India, had a rare condition that caused the rampant growth of teeth in his jaw. In 2014 doctors removed 232 teeth from Gavei’s mouth.

4.According to the American Dental Association, the Egyptians found ways of relieving toothaches, securing loose teeth and even creating the earliest precursor of today’s dentures.

5.The first dentist in recorded history is believed to be an Egyptian who lived in 2600 BC and served his pharaoh as Chief of Physicians and Dentists. An inscription on his tomb is said to describe him as “the greatest of those who deal with teeth.”

6.Between 500-300 B.C., Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dental practitioners “using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.”

7.In 1866, Lucy Beaman Hobbs graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery. She was the first woman to earn a dental degree.

8.In 1997, the FDA approved the erbium YAG laser, the first for use on dentin, to treat tooth decay.

9.In 2009, shortly after the beginning of the Great Recession, a Harris Interactive/HealthDay Poll found more than 50 percent of uninsured and 30 percent of insured Americans skipped necessary dental care visits during the past year due to financial burdens. A Gallup-Healthways poll of 355,334 Americans indicated that 34 percent of the population did not visit a dentist that year at all.

10.According to the American Dental Hygienist Association, nearly 75 percent of American adults suffer from various forms of gum disease and don’t know it.

11.The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry estimates that Americans spend about $2.75 billion each year on cosmetic dentistry. Two thirds of cosmetic dentistry patients are female and 33 percent are male.

12.The ADA was founded in 1859. It now has around 160,000 members.

13.According to a study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, there were about 201,000 professionally active dentists in the United States. Idaho has 913 active dentists.

14.That same study shows the highest number of dentists are in California, which has 31,640; the fewest are in Wyoming: 314.

15.Trident’s famous “4 out of 5 dentists would recommend Trident gum to their patients who chew gum” campaign began in the mid-’60s.

16.Rapper Lil Jon has a grill made of platinum and gold worth more that $30,000.

17.Rapper Lil Wayne has diamonds permanently embedded in his teeth. His “smile” is estimated to have cost around $150,000.

18.In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed dentists make an annual median salary of $146,340.

19.With undergraduate and doctoral degree studies, it takes about eight years to become a dentist.

20.According to the American Dental Student Association, the average dental student graduates with $241,097 of debt.