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Tooth Numbers and Tooth Names. Understanding Your Dentist's Quote.

Tooth Numbers and Their Names. Understand The Teeth Numbers Chart

Teeth' names are not random; they receive their names thanks to the tooth numbering system.

It is more convenient for dentists and specialists to identify any tooth by their number or name.

As a patient, it is essential to understand the names of teeth and how they are numbered. Understanding that quote from the dentist or keeping track of your dental record is necessary.

The tooth numbers can be confusing, but this guide will help you understand why they are named that way. Learn the interpretation of the tooth numbering system and why we use it.

Tooth Numbers, Why Do We Use Them?

Understanding the teeth' numbers and names is essential to keeping track of your dental chart.

With tooth numbers, it is easier for dentists to identify the tooth by their names-examples of teeth: mandibular central incisor, maxillary canine, mandibular first premolar, etc. For patients, it is easier to explain issues with their teeth to their dentist.

The position in the oral cavity gave a tooth a name. Teeth in the lower jaw are "mandibular," and the upper jaw's teeth are known as "maxillary." The teeth positioned on the right or left of the face also determined the tooth name.

There are three dental numbering systems. The same teeth are named differently in different parts of the world; it depends on the specialty and country.

Dentists in the United States use the Universal System. In adults, each tooth is given a number. The third molar on the upper-right side of our mouth is tooth number one. The third molar on our lower jaw is tooth number 32.

The ADA tooth numbering system is used in the United States and globally. Europe and Canada use the FDI (Fédération Dentaire Internationale System). Orthodontists and Oral surgeons use the Palmer tooth numbering system.

ADA TOOTH NUMBERING SYSTEM: The "Universal Teeth Numbering System" or "American system" is used in the United States.

FDI TOOTH NUMBER SYSTEM: Canadian dentists use this system; European dentists also use this dental numbering chart.

PALMER METHOD: For Orthodontists and Oral Surgeons.


Adults erupt 32 teeth. Human teeth are the most rigid bones in your body. Calcium, protein, and collagen make teeth the natural tools your body has for eating. All your teeth are essential for a correct occlusion, and you must eat correctly, grind, and chew your food to obtain your body's nutrients. Teeth will not last forever if you do not take good care of them.

Understanding Teeth Names

The tooth names perform their function according to their shapes and morphology. Humans eat both meat and plants. This particular characteristic needs incisors, the cutting teeth, to cut foods into tiny pieces to facilitate inward movement into the mouth.

What is the number of teeth in adults? Adults grow 32 teeth (also known as secondary or permanent dentition),

  • Eight incisors (two central and two laterals)
  • Four canines, also named cuspids
  • Eight premolars, also known as bicuspid
  • 12 molars that include four wisdom teeth

Children have 20 "milk" or "primary" teeth. They grow all teeth by age 3.

  • Four incisors
  • Two canines
  • Four molars

When the child turns seven, they start replacing milk teeth with secondary ones.

Tooth numbering chart
The way teeth are numbered in a human adult.

The Meaning of Teeth Names

Frontal Incisors Frontal Incisors

Incisor teeth are in the frontal area of your mouth, the front and face teeth. You have two in the lower jaw and two in the upper jaw. When you bite a fruit, you are using your incisors. Shaped as a chisel with sharp edges, they help you chew into your food. The incisors are the first to grow when the baby is between six and eight months old.

Lateral Incisors

The four lateral incisors grow next to the middle incisors, one on each side, for the upper and lower jaw. These teeth tear food with their incisal edges.


They are sharp, pointy teeth. A human body has two canines on the upper maxilla and two on the lower mandible. After 16 months of age, the baby will start growing canine teeth. Upper canine teeth grow before the lower ones. The canine teeth are called "cuspids" with incisors; they can bite and tear food.


The premolars are also called bicuspids. Premolars are a bit bigger than incisors and canines. Premolars are smaller than the molars and have two cusps on the biting location for crushing and tearing food. Premolars have ridges to crush down food and a flat surface for grinding food to make it easier to swallow. The premolars nearest to the incisors are the initial or first premolars, while the ones nearest to the molars are the second. Humans have four premolars in the lower jaw and four in the upper maxilla.


They are your most prominent and strongest teeth; the large surface area of your molars helps grind up food. Molars are big teeth with four cusps in the mouth behind the premolars.

When eating, the tongue passes the food to the back of the mouth to let the molars grind it into small pieces for easy swallowing. Molars have broad, flat surfaces for chewing, biting, and crumbling your food.
The molars also include the four wisdom teeth, the last to grow. Usually, they erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth are also called third molars. Wisdom Teeth

It is also known as Vestigial teeth, located at the back of the mouth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. Wisdom teeth generally erupt during the age of a teenager but can grow at any time. Not all wisdom teeth need extraction. Not everyone has enough room in their mouth for this last group of teeth. Sometimes, the wisdom teeth grow impacted, meaning they are under the other molars; they don't have space to grow in. If you don't have room for your wisdom teeth, you'll likely have to have them removed surgically.

The tooth surfaces also have a name depending on their location inside the oral cavity. The area of the tooth nearest to the tongue is the lingual surface. For the face teeth, the area closest to the lip is the labial surface. For the back teeth (premolars and molars), the area that faces the checks is known as the buccal surface, and the chewing place is known as the occlusal surface.


  • Labial: surface on the side of the lips of the anterior teeth (incisors and canines)
  • Buccal: surface on the side of the cheeks of the posterior teeth (premolars and molars)
  • Lingual: surface on the side of the tongue of every tooth (anterior and posterior)
  • Occlusal: the masticating surface of the posterior teeth.
  • Incisive: the sharp edge of the incisors.
  • Mésial: interproximal surface (between the adjacent teeth) nearest the midline.
  • Distal: interproximal surface (between the adjacent teeth) located farthest from the midline.

Teeth Numbers

All dental clinics use a chart to follow and understand each patient's treatment. It is called an odontogram, human teeth chart, or diagram. It is like a tooth map that lets the dentists read your case.

The United States uses the ADA nomenclature tooth numbering system, where numbers identify teeth. It is read in a clockwise way.


Teeth from 1 - 16 (from right to left) LOWER JAW
Teeth from 17-32 (from left to right).