Understanding Dental Lingo | La Familia Medical Center For Consultation and Appointments

Understanding Dental Lingo

May 11, 20160

Understanding Dental Lingo

May 11, 20160

When you sit in the chair at your dentist’s office, do you ever feel confused? Do you hear the dentist and staff talking, but don’t understand what they’re saying? Dental terminology is almost its own language, with lots of unique terms and numbers tossed around by the professionals. You want to understand what they’re saying about your teeth, right? Here’s a guide to understanding dental lingo, especially what the numbers discussed mean.

Numbering Your Teeth

Dentists have a chart that uses numbers to help them make notations of healthy and problem teeth. If you listen to your dentist, you’ll learn a great deal about the current state of your dental hygiene.

The ISO/FDI system

From American Tooth (americantooth.com) – Justi Educational Department, Dental Numbering Systems Perm – Rev. 9/03 –


The first thing to realize is dentists use a two-digit numbering system. So the upper right teeth begin with the number “1” (i.e. 11), the upper left teeth begin with the number “2” (i.e. 21), the lower left teeth begin with the number “3” (i.e. 31), and the lower right teeth begin with the number “4” (i.e. 41). You may not have all of these teeth. For example, tooth 48 is a wisdom tooth, one that dentists oftentimes extract to improve the overall health of your mouth.

The upper half of your mouth has lower numbers. These are teeth 11-17, and 21-27 on the dental chart. The numbering system has a second purpose, though. It also identifies which type of tooth is under discussion.

Since the counting system begins in the middle of the upper quadrant on the right side, the first two teeth are incisors. They are numbers 11 and 12 on the chart. The next tooth is a canine, which is number 13. The premolar teeth are 14 and 15 and the molars are 15-18.

Now that you understand the dental numbering system, you should pay attention during your visits. You can learn a lot about the current state of your teeth!

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