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

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

Teeth names are not random; they receive their name 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 name of teeth and how they are numbered. It is necessary to understand that quote from the dentist or keep track of your dental record.

The tooth numbers can be confusing, but this guide will help you understand why they are names 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 keep track of your dental chart.

With tooth numbers, it is easier for dentists to identify the tooth by their names—examples of teeth names: mandibular central incisor, maxillary canine, mandibular first premolar, etc. For patients, it is easier to explain issues on your teeth to your 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 is three dental numbering system. 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 to eat correctly; to 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.

  • 4 incisors
  • 2 canines
  • 4 molars

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

The Meaning of Teeth Names

Frontal Incisors

Incisor teeth are in the frontal area of your mouth; they are the front teeth; they are the 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 ones to grow when the baby is between six to eight months old.

Lateral Incisors
Wisdom Teeth

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: masticating surface of the posterior teeth.
  • Incisive: the sharp edge of the incisors.
  • Mésial: interproximal surface (between the adjacent teeth) located nearest to the midline.
  • Distal: interproximal surface (between the adjacent teeth) located farthest from the midline.


Teeth Numbers

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

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


Teeth from 1 - 16 (from right to left)

Teeth from 17-32 (from left to right).


Teeth numbers and names.
This is how how teeth are numbered in a human adult.

Tooth Numbers By Quadrant

1 Central Incisor 7 - 8
2 Lateral Incisor 8 - 9
3 Canine / Cuspid / Eyetooth 11 - 12
4 First Premolar / First Bicuspid 10 - 11
5 Second Premolar / Second Bicuspid 10 - 12
6 First Molar 6 - 7
7 Second Molar 12 - 13
8 Third Molar / Wisdom Tooth 17 - 21
9 Central Incisor 7 - 8
10 Lateral Incisor 8 - 9
11 Canine / Cuspid / Eyetooth 11 - 12
12 First Premolar / First Bicuspid 10 - 11
13 Second Premolar / Second Bicuspid 10 - 12
14 First Molar 6 - 7
15 Second Molar 12 - 13
16 Third Molar / Wisdom Tooth 17 - 21
17 Central Incisor 6 - 7
18 Lateral Incisor 7 - 8
19 Canine / Cuspid 9 - 10
20 First Premolar / First Bicuspid 10 - 12
21 Second Premolar / Second Bicuspid 11 - 12
22 First Molar 10 - 12
23 Second Molar 11 - 13
24 Third Molar / Wisdom Tooth 17 - 21
25 Central Incisor 6 - 7
26 Lateral Incisor 7 - 8
27 Canine / Cuspid 9 - 10
28 First Premolar / First Bicuspid 10 - 12
29 Second Premolar / Second Bicuspid 11 - 12
30 First Molar 10 - 12
31 Second Molar 11 - 13
32 Third Molar / Wisdom Tooth 17 - 21

Updated on November 9, 2020.