The tooth numbering system, also known as the Universal teeth numbering chart system, was developed by the American Dental Association in an effort to standardize terms used to describe individual teeth and groupings of teeth. Using this system, every tooth in your mouth has a specific number. By knowing where each tooth is located on your mouth and its number, you can easily and accurately identify which teeth are missing or damaged, describe how they look and feel, and create an effective treatment plan to keep them healthy.
Did you know there was a numbering system for teeth?
It’s easy to determine what tooth number you are talking about if you know where your problem tooth is. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) uses a numbering system that’s simple and easy to remember. The first permanent molar on each side of your mouth gets a number one, while all other teeth receive their numbers based on which they sit next to. So, if you have an issue with your upper left second molar, that would be counted as two from your first molar. Of course, we know it isn’t always as simple as saying upper left. That tooth might actually be down near your chin or tucked behind another one in back – but rest assured: Your dentist will find it.
Why does it matter what I call my teeth?
It’s good to know what you’re referring to when you’re working with your dentist or best orthodontists near me. Just like there are a few standard tooth numbering systems, there are also different names for teeth (molars vs premolars vs incisors) that we use in our practice. But all of them have one thing in common: We use them to tell us which teeth we’re talking about and get us talking about each tooth in turn. The name/number system helps keep things orderly when discussing braces and other treatments.
The Dental Anatomy Chart
Your teeth are labeled by their location in your mouth. Each tooth has a unique name, and they’re grouped into sets. The first set of teeth includes one tooth each on both sides of your upper jaw, and two teeth each on both sides of your lower jaw; these are known as incisors. The second set includes four more teeth on both sides: two canines (the ones next to your incisors), and two premolars (the ones right behind them). This grouping is also referred to as lower bicuspids or early molars. You’ll get another set called upper bicuspids or late molars, which include just four permanent teeth each.
Teeth by Size and Location
Most people are familiar with tooth numbering systems, even if they don’t know it. The most common one refers to 32 teeth: 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars and 12 molars. The first letter of each word corresponds to a specific tooth in your mouth. For example, I stands for incisor, C for canine and so on. Each letter also corresponds to a specific location within your mouth.
Cementoenamel junction (CEJ)
One of your first visits to an orthodontist should include a brief overview of tooth numbering. So, how do you keep track of all those teeth in your mouth? You may remember learning in school that we have 32 permanent teeth, but that number isn’t entirely accurate. Teeth are numbered differently depending on whether they’re missing or still developing—or if they’re part of your jaw bone (called odontomes). Permanent teeth fall into three categories: incisors, premolars and molars. Because these types of teeth come in at different times during our development, tooth numbering differs for each group. In fact, there are more than one way to assign numbers to these groups!
There’s more to your mouth than teeth!
The numbering system indicates a tooth’s position within its arch. As you move from left to right, start counting each tooth by one. This means that in your bottom jaw, which has two arches, you would count teeth beginning with your second molar on your left side as number 14. In your top jaw (which also has two arches), you’d start at number 16 and count toward 38 on your right side.