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Dentist in Spring Texas – How Dentist Number Teeth

Dentist in Spring Texas – How Dentist Number Teeth 150 150 Tony

Dentist in Spring Texas – How Dentist Number Teeth

I am sure you have often wondered what your dentist and his or her staff are saying when he is examining your teeth and mentioning a string of numbers. Dentists have developed a terminology to define the health of your teeth or gums. Although your dentist will explain their prognosis you might go home without knowing what the string of numbers meant.

It also helps to know the names and functions of your teeth to easily understand the numbering systems. The top and bottom four teeth are known as incisors. They are used to grip food and to cut it. They also make it easier for you to speak and they are the teeth that are visible when you smile.

The next teeth following the incisors are known as canines. They are sharper and longer and are used to hold food firmly when you are tearing it. They generally wear down faster than other teeth. The teeth that are further in your mouth are bicuspids and they perform a similar function as molars and canines. They move the food from the canine teeth to the molars.

The last set of teeth are the molars. If you still have your wisdom teeth, they are part of the molars. These teeth crush and grind food that is carried to the back of the mouth by the bicuspids

In this article, we explain to you how your dentist numbers your teeth so that next time you visit the dentist you will not be at a loss at what he is saying and you will better understand your dental health.


To better understand the numbering systems used it is important to explain how your mouth is organized. Your mouth is divided into four quadrants. The upper parts of your mouth are the first two quadrants while the lower parts make up the third and fourth quadrant. The top right of your mouth interior is known as quadrant one while the top left is quadrant two.

The bottom is a bit different with the bottom left being quadrant three and the bottom right being quadrant four. The dentist reads your mouth like a clock starting from the top left or quadrant 1 and reading clockwise.

Teeth Numbering Systems

There are three teeth numbering systems that dentists use to identify your teeth. We will look at each of them in the section below.

  1. The universal numbering system

The American Dentists Association-ADN developed the universal numbering system. Many dentists use it globally.

In this system, the number one tooth is the one farthest in your mouth found on the right side of your mouth in the upper jaw. The numbers then continue on the upper teeth towards the front. The farthest tooth on the top left side of your mouth is numbered number 16.

The numbering continues as you drop down to the lower jaw. Tooth number 17 is the one farthest back found on the left side of the mouth on the bottom. Again, the numbers continue towards the front to the tooth that is situated at the farthest on the bottom right side of your mouth. The tooth at the farthest is tooth number 32.

In this system, every tooth that should be there is given a number. Even if you are missing a tooth or some were removed, the missing ones are acknowledged and numbered.

  1. The Palmer notation numbering system

Oral surgeons, orthodontists, and periodontists often use this system. This system was originally referred to as the Zsigmondy system after the founder who was an Australian dentist who came up with the idea in 1861.

In this system, the mouth is divided into four quadrants as discussed above. The system uses numbers 1 to 8 and a unique symbol for the teeth in each quadrant. The numbering starts from the centre of the mouth to the back. Tooth number 1 is the incisor tooth found in the upper right quadrant. The numbering continues to the back right of the mouth to tooth number 8 which is your third molar.

The numbering uses an L-shaped symbol that identifies each of the quadrants. The L starts on the right side up to the left quadrant. On the upper right, the teeth use a backwards L. At the bottom quadrants, the L is upside down and follows a similar pattern like the upper quadrants. Letters such as UR and URQ for the upper right and upper right quadrant are often used to identify the quadrants.

  1. The federation Dentaire Internationale Numbering System (FDI)

This is an internationally used system and every branch of dentistry uses it. It is also known as the two-digit system. The right maxillary quadrant is given the number 1. Number 2 is given to the maxillary left quadrant. The number 3 is given to the mandibular left quadrant while the mandibular right quadrant is given number 4.  The teeth in each of the quadrant are given a number from 1 to 8. Number one in each quadrant is the central incisor and number 8 is the third molar in that quadrant.

This system uses a two-digit numbering system. The upper right teeth will start at 11 while the upper left teeth start at 21. The lower left teeth start at 31 while the lower right teeth begin at 41.

Dentists use the numbering systems to assist them to make notations of the teeth that are healthy and problematic. The numbering systems are also useful as they help the dentist and the assistants identify the tooth under discussion.  Next time you visit us at Vita Dental for any of your dental needs we are sure you will recognize the teeth numbers our dentists use and you will be more aware of the tooth being discussed.