Dental Dilemmas: What Tooth Number Is This Tooth?

What teeth number is this tooth? It could be any one of the four and it could be any location on the tooth, so before you even begin to answer, you’re already lost. What to do if you have no idea what teeth numbers this tooth is? Just ask your dentist!

The Teeth Numbering System

Dental numbering systems vary from dentist to dentist. The reason for this varies and it can be hard to keep track of which teeth are which. Here’s a quick guide on dental numbering in the US.

The first molar (the one closest to your tongue) is called M1 or wisdom tooth. The second molar is M2 and so on until you reach the last molar, M6, or your wisdom teeth again. This system helps you remember where each tooth belongs by naming them after their location and order in your mouth. It’s still best to ask your dentist what they prefer when visiting their office.

-M1 or wisdom tooth = 1st molar

-M2 = 2nd molar

-M3 = 3rd molar

The Universal Teeth Numbering System

Tooth numbering, also known as dental numbering, is a system used to identify teeth. Each quadrant of the mouth has one upper right and left incisor, two upper right and left premolars, two lower right and left incisors, and two lower right and left premolars. The chart below indicates which teeth are in each quadrant.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Upper Right Incisor Upper Left Incisor Upper Right Premolar Upper Left Premolar Lower Right Incisor Lower Left Incisor Lower Right Premolar Lower Left Premolar

The first digit in the numbering system corresponds to the jaw that houses that particular tooth.

The Palmer Notation Method

The Universal Tooth Numbering System was developed to be comprehensive, clear, and concise. It contains a numbered system for the front teeth (maxillary teeth) and back teeth (mandibular teeth). There are also letters for any extra teeth that might exist in the mouth. The Universal Tooth Numbering System uses a letter and then two numbers to identify each tooth on both the upper and lower jaws. For example, let’s say we want to refer to the maxillary central incisor. This would be labeled as 2-1. If there were two maxillary central incisors, they would be labeled as 2-1-1 and 2-1-2.

Which System Should I Use?

The numbering system for teeth that most people are familiar with is called the Universal System. This system was created in 1868 by a dentist named Henry Littlejohn. In it, the first permanent molar in the mouth (a full set of 20 teeth) is labeled 1. The last or 20th tooth in the mouth, which is usually wisdom teeth, is labeled 20. Other systems include the Palmer Method and Nance’s System.

A few tips for using these systems: First, use the same system throughout your treatment notes to avoid confusion; second, make sure to mark down what system you’re using so there are no mix-ups; and third, if you switch from one system to another during treatment make sure to write out what new system you’re switching to so there’s no confusion.