As a patient without any medical training, all the dental language and terminology you hear while you’re sitting in that big chair during a check-up or procedure can be a little confusing. Of course you don’t expect to be able to follow along with every little comment between the dentist and his assistant, but it might be nice if you could understand and utilize some of the same information when trying to describe your dental problems. After all, no knows how your teeth are feeling better than you! Here at our Philadelphia-area practice, Dr. DiGiallorenzo and his dedicated team don’t want you to feel like you’re in the dark about the specifics of what we do, especially since our treatments can directly impact your health and happiness. That’s why we provide so many links on our website to detailed explanations of all the services and procedures we perform here in Collegeville and Williamsport. It can also help your dental education, though, to understand what tooth numbering is.
Have you ever heard Dr. DiGiallorenzo say something like “make a note about number 10” to his assistant during one of your procedures? He’s referring to the information provided by a Tooth Numbering system. Tooth Numbering systems were created so that dentists of all levels and focuses had a consistent and concise way of referring to specific teeth. Today, there are over thirty systems used throughout the world. However, only two of those are commonly utilized in the United States. We’ll be focusing on the system that’s recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and that Dr. DiGiallorenzo uses in order to more precisely and accurately treat his patients from the Philadelphia area: The Universal Numbering System.
The Universal Numbering System, as can be seen above, does exactly what you’d assume it would: it assigns a specific, unique number to each of thirty-two teeth that you should have as an adult. If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed or have lost natural teeth through trauma or decay, the numbers for those spots still exist and should be skipped when counting.
As you can follow from the chart, numbering begins in the upper right of your mouth, starting with the upper right wisdom tooth. The count then moves across your upper row of teeth until reaching the wisdom tooth on the upper left of your mouth, which is #16. You then jump down to the lower left and continue counting in the opposite direction, moving from the lower left of your mouth to the lower right. You will finally end at #32, your lower right wisdom tooth.
It might also help you learn the numbers quicker if you know the proper names and functions of those teeth too. The four teeth on the top and bottom rows of your mouth (7, 8, 9, 10, 23, 24, 25, and 26) are commonly referred to as incisors. You use them to grip your food hard, as well as to cut it. They make speaking and conversing much easier, and, as you surely already know, they’re the teeth everyone sees when you smile!
The next set of teeth appears behind the incisors, and they’re referred to as canines or cuspids (6, 11, 22, and 27). These tooth, you may have noticed, are longer and sharper than your other teeth, and they’re used to hold food firmly in place where you’re tearing it to bits. They’re usually the first teeth to be worn down through use.
Even further back in your mouth are bicuspids (4, 5, 12, 13, 20, 21, 28, and 29), where are used for a variety of functions. They can perform the same duties as canines and molars, which we’ll get to in a second. They help to move food from the canine teeth to the molars.
The last set of teeth you have is referred to as molars (2, 3, 14, 15, 18, 19, 30, 31). Since many adults have their wisdom teeth removed for health or comfort reasons, those teeth are not officially included in the count here. However, if you still have them, they are also classified as molars. These tooth are there simply to grind and crush the food that the bicuspids have carried back through the mouth for you.
While this all might sound a little hard to remember on the first read, studying this chart and learning the numbers and names by heart can be beneficial to your dental treatments experience with Dr. DiGiallorenzo. For instance, if you’ve suffered a dental emergency and called one of our offices, you’ll be able to clearly and quickly communicate to us which teeth have been damaged without having to delve into several long-winded directions and descriptions. Better yet, you can more clearly understand where Dr. DiGiallorenzo and his team will be performing procedures, and even perhaps why you’ve suffered the most damage in a specific area.
We encourage you to visit Dr. DiGiallorenzo for any periodontal or restorative dental work you need done in the Philadelphia area. We are happy to serve you from two convenient locations in Collegeville, PA, or Williamsport, PA. Call today with any questions you might have about tooth numbering, or if you’re ready to schedule an appointment and get back to smiling sooner with the help of our effective, wholesome, and personalized care.
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