Is it normal if I only have 24 teeth in the mouth?

i only have 24 teeth

People frequently ask why they only have 24 teeth when their family and friends have more than they have. In this article, we will try to answer all your concerns about why you have fewer than the usual number of teeth and the total number of teeth an adult is supposed to have. Also, do fewer teeth affect an individual in any way?  

How many permanent teeth do adults have?

Usually, adults have 32 permanent teeth, eight on each side of the jaw. 

Our bodies are symmetrical, i.e., a balanced and proportionate similarity appears in two halves of the body. In other words, one-half is the mirror image of the other half.

So, we have the same teeth on both sides, right and left. Similarly, we have the same teeth in the upper and lower jaw. Each side of the jaw is designated as a quadrant. So we have four quadrants with eight teeth. 

These eight teeth differ in shape and size, and their shape and size determine their function. The front four teeth are known as incisors. Their sharp edges are meant for biting food. The third tooth on each side is known as the canine and is used for tearing food apart. 

The last three large and flat back teeth are known as molars and are designed for chewing food into small pieces for its swallowing and proper digestion. The last molar is known as wisdom tooth because it emerges after age 17. 

The two intermediate teeth between the canine and molars in each quadrant are known as premolars. They assist the molars in breaking down the food. 

Are we born with all permanent teeth? 

At birth, there are no teeth in the mouth. The first pair of lower teeth appear at six months of age. These teeth are known as baby teeth or milk teeth. 

They are 20 in number, with two incisors, one canine, and two molars on each side. 

In infants, the mouth and jaws are small, and so are milk teeth. As we grow up, our jaws increase in size, and these small teeth would be too small for the enlarging jaws and need larger and sturdier teeth. 

At age 6, the first pair of permanent teeth emerge in the mouth. They replace the baby incisors. They are bigger and occupy more space (the space is already created by the growing jaws). The adult teeth continue to replace the milk teeth till the age of 12. 

Teeth on each side of the jaw appear at almost the same time. Sometimes, they may lag by six months but not more than that. Lower teeth appear ahead of upper teeth. 

Why do people only have 24 teeth?

 An individual with fewer than 6 missing teeth other than wisdom teeth, suffer from a condition known as hypodontia. People with 24 teeth fall under this category of missing teeth. 

I only have 24 teeth

Prevalence of hypodontia

The prevalence of hypodontia ranges from 1.6% to 36% in different populations. Wisdom teeth are the most frequently missing teeth. It is estimated that 1 in 5 individuals have missing wisdom teeth. It affects 6.5% of European and  5.5% of Australian populations. Most have one or two missing teeth. 

Second premolars and lateral incisors are the most frequently missing teeth after wisdom teeth. Teeth are either missing from one side or both sides of the jaw. Frequently lateral incisors are missing from both sides. However, premolars show a unilateral (one side) pattern of missing teeth.  

 If you have less than the usual number of teeth, the following could be the reasons: 

How do people with 24 teeth look like

Missing teeth commonly occur in healthy individuals. In individuals with missing teeth other than third molars, the following features can be seen 

  • Short face with a flat jawline and protruded lips
  • Decreased length of the upper and lower jaws 
  • Abnormal bite due to spacing between teeth, rotated teeth and eruption of teeth in abnormal positions due to lack of guidance from the missing teeth.  
  • Small roots of the remaining teeth
  • Delayed teeth development and eruption of teeth.
  • Smaller-sized teeth are frequently seen in patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy in early childhood.
  • Retained baby teeth for decades 
  • Exchange in the position of canine and first premolar 
  • Overeruption of lower front teeth leading to deep bite

If you have less than the usual number of teeth, the following could be the reasons: 

Failure of teeth buds to form (congenitally missing teeth)

Congenitally missing teeth are the teeth whose buds have never formed. In other words, there are no tooth buds for these teeth at birth. 

The teeth begin to form at 6 weeks during pregnancy. The band of cells called the dental lamina is included in the region of future upper and lower jaws. The band gives off branches and forms tooth buds, which will develop into future teeth. The formation of baby teeth commences at 8 weeks, and the permanent teeth begin forming between 10-13 weeks during pregnancy. 

Genetic factors affecting tooth development

The developing tooth buds contain genetic determinants for protein transcription responsible for initiating signals that will eventually determine the number of teeth forming. More than 300 genes regulate the process of tooth development. Mutation in genes can affect the development of associated teeth. 

For instance, a mutation in the MSX1 gene arrests the development of second premolar and third molars. 

The PAX9 gene mutation is linked to the failure of the second molar, second premolar, and lower incisor formation (front teeth). 

Mutations in these genes are also linked to developing cancers later in life, such as ovarian cancer.

Environmental factors affecting tooth development

The presence of one or more environmental factors during pregnancy or early childhood arrest the teeth forming at that time. The following enviromental factors are thought to affect the teeth formation:

  • Use of certain medicines, such as thalidomide for morning sickness
  • The facial injury will arrest the teeth development at the site of injury
  • Radiation exposure and chemotherapy 
  • Rubella infection during pregnancy 

How do dentists know about the number of teeth in a child?

X-rays examine the number of erupted and unerupted in a child. 

As already discussed, a tooth grows from its bud that is present when a baby is born. All the teeth can be seen on the full mouth x-ray after three years of age, except for the wisdom teeth. The tooth buds become evident on the X-ray when they start calcifying. 

Calcification is when calcium and other mineral salts deposit in the tooth bud, making it hard and visible on the X-ray. 

All the teeth are at some stage of calcification at birth except for wisdom teeth, which starts to deposit calcium and mineral between the age of 7 to 10 years. Thus, at birth, we have 20 baby tooth buds and 32 adult tooth buds that develop into complete teeth as the child grows. 

After an orthodontic or braces treatment

Patients with crowded teeth undergoing braces treatment often require the removal of one tooth from each quadrant to create space for their alignment. If the jaws are too small to accommodate 32 teeth, dentists extract the first or second premolar from each quadrant based on the individual case requirement.   

Orthodontics is often performed out in teens when the third molar hasn’t erupted in the mouth. So at the end of treatment, teenage patients have 24 teeth. These 24 teeth can carry out all the functions of mastication without any compromise.

Tooth eruption blocked by Crowded teeth 

In people with small jaw bones, the crowded or overlapping teeth don’t allow enough space for the second premolar or canine to erupt, and they remain hidden or impacted in the bone. These teeth erupt in the end at age 11-12. Impaction of these can also lead to less number of teeth. 

Get an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist if you are in the same boat. If intervened at a young age, these teeth can be brought into the correct position. 

Genetic disorders

Three are some genetic disorders where an individual has less number of teeth than an ordinary person. Cleft lip and palate patients is the most disorder affecting tooth development. The other rare disorders are Ectodermal dysplasia, Down, Reiger or Book syndromes, etc. 

Along with the less number, the teeth sometimes differ in shape (cone-shaped) with or without faulty enamel and dentin formation. The defective enamel and dentin predispose them to early tooth decay. 

Frequently asked questions:

Is it normal to have 24 teeth 

No, it is not okay to have 24 teeth in the mouth. It is alright to have one to five missing teeth. Third, molars are the most frequently missing teeth. More than four missing teeth may leave spaces in the arch that needs treatment.

The spaces are either closed, or artificial teeth are placed in the open spaces. Spacing in the front teeth affects your smile.

Missing lateral incisors are the frequent cause of spacing in the front region. Moreover, missing second premolars causes spacing in the posterior segment. The spacing in the jaw may cause difficulty in chewing. 

Are 24 teeth enough?

24 teeth instead of 32 perform all the necessary functions in the mouth. However, spaces in the front teeth can affect speech. You may have a problem pronouncing certain words. Words with s and z sounds may be difficult to say. During these sounds, the tongue is placed behind the front teeth, close to but not touching, to allow air to escape and produce s and z sounds. 

If you have spacing in front teeth due to missing teeth, the tongue protrudes in the spaces and blocks the expulsion of air. The sound is changed from s to th sound. For instance, the word pass is pronounced as path and song as thong. 

The gaps allow teeth to move towards the gap, creating bite problems that require bite rehabilitation. The bite is reconstructed by closing the spaces or placing the artificial teeth in the gaps. You may have to go for an orthodontic treatment for bite adjustment. 

Is it normal to have 24 teeth at 16?

It is normal to have 28 teeth instead of 24 at age 16. Wisdom teeth come in between 17 to 24 years of age, so at 16, they haven’t erupted in the mouth. The absence of the other four missing teeth can be due to:

Get an appointment with your dentist to evaluate their cause. Timely intervention aids in the eruption of these teeth if they are present in the jaws. 

Is it normal to have 24 teeth after braces?

Yes, it is normal to have 24 teeth after braces in teens as third molars have not erupted by this time. Crooked teeth often require removal of one tooth from each quadrant for straightening them and you will end up having 24 teeth in the mouth at the completion of the treatment.

After age 24, the presence of 24 teeth in the mouth implies to missing wisdom teeth or lack of space for their eruption. 

Is it normal to have 24 teeth at 11?

Yes, it is normal to have 24 teeth at age 11as the permanent second and third molars (wisdom teeth) from each quadrant have not erupted. 

Girls mature earlier than boys. The average age of eruption for adult second molars in girls ranges from 8 years and 11 months to 14 years and four months, and for boys, the teeth erupt between 9 years and 11 months to 13 years and 11 months. The wisdom teeth emerge between 17 to 24 years. 

Are 24 teeth normal in kids?

Yes, it is normal to have 24 teeth in kids. Kids have 20 teeth in their mouth between the age 2 to 6 years. At age 6, the first molar erupts behind the baby’s second molar in each quadrant. In other words, kids carry 24 teeth from age 6 to 11 years. 

Summary 

People having 24 teeth in their mouth worry about having less than the usual number of teeth than their family and friends and are in search of the reason behind it. 

Patients with missing teeth are often exposed to infection, injury, or medicines before birth or during early childhood that disrupt the tooth development leading to delayed eruptions or missing teeth.  

There is no need to worry about it, as it is common to have one or more missing wisdom teeth. The second premolar or second incisor may also be missing in some people. However, the absence of more than two teeth from one quadrant requires orthodontic treatment or bite adjustment. 

If you have 24 teeth in the mouth, you need to see a dentist to find the reason. Early treatment facilitates the blocked or hidden teeth in their eruption.  

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