Tooth loss and tooth retention in a multitribal group of Bantu‐speaking South African blacks: A study on 500 dry mandibles

Haim Tal*, Shemuel Tau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tooth loss and tooth retention in adult South African Bantu‐speaking Negroes were studied from data derived from 500 dry mandibles. The tribe, sex, and stated age of the specimens were available. Mandibles were equally distributed over the third to seventh decade of life. The presence of dental units was recorded and analysed within and between decade age groups. The mandibles carried a total of 5,459 dental units. Between the third and fourth decades of life and between the sixth and seventh decades, the reduction of the frequency of dental units was mild and statistically not significant. It was, however, severe and significant between the fourth and fifth, and the fifth and sixth decades. In the third‐decade group, most teeth were found in the anterior region with a tendency to diminish in number posteriorly. After the third decade there was a definite persistence of first premolars and canines with significant tendency toward loss of teeth anterior and posterior to them. Only the incisors and third molars showed significant reduction in number from the third to the fourth decade. The reduction of all teeth was statistically significant later, until the sixth decade of life. Although there was loss of teeth from the sixth to the seventh decade, it was not significant for any of the homologous dental units. There is a possibility that some dietary differences existed between the older subjects (50–70 years old) and the younger ones (20–49 years old) which may have had some influence on the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • Tooth loss
  • Tooth mortality
  • Tooth retention
  • Tooth survival


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