To understand how our teeth are numbered, it’s important to know what teeth numbering system we’re referring to in the first place. There are two widely use numbering systems that dentists and dental professionals use to reference tooth positions. It’s important to know the difference between these two number systems so you can convey information accurately to your dentist and hygienist each time you visit the dentist’s office.
– The Basics
You likely already know that teeth are number according to their placement in your mouth. For example, if you’re looking at yourself in a mirror, your top teeth are label as #1 and your bottom teeth are labeled as #2. When referring to a particular tooth, though, dentists usually call out a number-letter combination—for example, 6S for tooth number six on the lower left side of your mouth. So why do we use two different numbering systems for one set of teeth? The short answer: It’s easier to think about numbers rather than letters when you’re trying to describe dental work or sharing medical records. As with most things in life, convenience trumps logic sometimes!
– Upper Teeth Numbers
Your teeth are number in your mouth according to where they are in relation to one another and your tongue. For example, upper left (UL) would be position next to upper right (UR). On your tooth number chart, every tooth gets a number from 1 through 32, however some teeth do not get numbers on that chart. These are known as non-number teeth and will have descriptions for them instead of a number. The following teeth will have no number: Wisdom Teeth, 2nd bicuspids, 3rd molars or premolars and canine teeth. The tooth numbering system is only use when looking at your teeth in an open position such as when you’re talking or laughing. When you close your mouth it changes how things look so it’s important to understand how that works too!
– Lower Teeth Numbers
I, II, III and IV: These teeth are located on both sides of your mouth. They’re usually your eye teeth. – Upper Teeth Numbers: I, II, III and IV: These teeth are located on both sides of your mouth. They’re usually your eye teeth. – Molars: IV , V, VI , VII and VIII: These molars are located on both sides of your mouth behind your premolars. #3 is sometimes a canine tooth but it can be one of these four molars too.
– Incisors (Your Two Front Teeth)
They get a number one (1) designation. The numbering system for teeth typically starts with your central incisors, which are both located on your upper jaw, and then continue out towards either side from there. The exception to that rule? Your four wisdom teeth, which sit behind your two big front teeth and are usually refer to as your molars or premolars when they’re in different parts of your mouth. Wisdom teeth aren’t actually impact until you reach an older age—so you can take them out now if they cause you discomfort!
– Canines (Your Pointy Teeth)
The tooth numbering system for canines start with 1 on top and go down from there. This will be located in between your upper two central incisors. On either side of your upper central incisors are your lateral incisors and canine teeth, which are both number 2. That’s because these teeth sit between our two incisors – so they get a number that reflects their position in our mouth. On either side of those are your first premolars (bicuspids), which are number 3. The rest of your bicuspids (which total 8) will then be number 4-11 as you move into your second premolar area.
– Premolars (Your Back Bottom Teeth)
Molars are number from 1 to 12. For upper molars, your left-side tooth is number one and your right-side tooth is number two; for lower molars, your left-side tooth will be number six and your right-side tooth will be number seven. So why do they skip numbers three and four? Because there are no true third or fourth molars—you lose them before you’re born! (On a side note: If a dentist tells you that you have four wisdom teeth, don’t panic. It just means he or she decided to ignore standard numbering conventions.) The numbering system also includes little baby teeth—also known as primary teeth—which you also lose before birth (and which we don’t talk about here).
– Molars (The Big Chunkers at the Back of Your Mouth)
Molars are typically number using Roman numerals. We’ll explain how molars are number below, but first, you might be wondering how to identify a molar. Molars, which look like big chunks of your teeth (they don’t have any pointed edges), are located at the back of your mouth on both sides and in between your canine and premolar teeth. In fact, there are four molars (the third molar on each side of your mouth) commonly called wisdom teeth—if they haven’t come through by age 18 or so and need to be removed for some reason.