Teeth Numbers and Names - Guide

Updated: Oct 12

During a dental check up, your dentist is calling out tooth numbers while the assistant charts it into the computer. Which teeth is what number? Wouldn't it be nice to know exactly which tooth they are talking about?


This is a guide for understanding the american teeth numbering system and how we chart teeth numbers. You'll be an expert at dental lingo by the time you finish reading this article. It'll be less confusing the next time you're in a dental chair because you'll understand precisely what your dentist is talking about.



Table of Contents:



Tooth numbering system

In the United States, we use the universal numbering system to correctly identify teeth. The adult teeth are numbered differently than the primary or milk teeth.

  • Adult teeth are numbered from 1 to 32.

  • Children's teeth are numbered using letters from A to T.

Therefore, your permanent teeth are classified using numbers while your deciduous teeth (baby teeth) uses alphabetical letters.


teeth numbering chart

Alternative tooth numbering systems

Aside from the United States, every other country in the world uses the FDI Notation (FDI World Dental Federation notation) and that includes the World Health Organization. The numbering system for that notation is different from the universal system. Please be aware that we will be mostly covering the universal system.


There is another system, which is used mostly in the United Kingdom called the Palmer notation. It was actually named after an American dentist, Dr Corydon Palmer from Warren, Ohio.




How are teeth numbered

The full adult dentition is numbered from 1 to 32. Your top teeth are 1-16 while your bottom ones are 17-32.


How to count your own teeth in your mouth

If you have all of your wisdom teeth and did not remove any other teeth, you should have 32 teeth on average. You start counting with your upper right wisdom tooth.

  1. Tooth 1 is the first back tooth on your upper right side.

  2. Then you start counting towards the left: number 2, number 3, number 4, and etc.

  3. The last tooth on the upper left side should be tooth 16.

  4. Next you start with the first back tooth on the lower left side, which is tooth 17.

  5. Then you start counting towards the right: number 18, number 19, and etc.

  6. The last tooth on the lower right side should be tooth 32.

If you do NOT have all of your wisdom teeth because you had them removed, you would start counting with your upper right second molar.

  1. The first back tooth on the upper right side would be tooth number 2.

  2. Count towards the left and the last tooth on the upper left is number 15.

  3. Next the bottom left back tooth would be number 18.

  4. Count towards the right and the last tooth on the lower right is number 31.


How to count teeth on diagrams and x-rays

Counting teeth on odontograms and x-rays are different than in your mouth because you are counting based on the viewpoint of a dentist or oral healthcare professional. The charts, diagrams, and x-rays are practically labeled as if a dentist was looking into your mouth directly. What this means is that everything is reversed or flip-flopped.

  • The left side on the chart correlates with the right side of your mouth.

  • The right side on the chart correlates with the left side of your mouth.

universal tooth numbering system

On the diagram above, tooth 1 is on the left side of the chart but it is actually on the upper right side in your mouth. This is to demonstrate to you how charting the teeth is different from counting directly in the mouth.


The same principle applies to counting teeth on dental x-rays. The top tooth on the left side of the x-ray is tooth #1. The dental x-ray below is a panoramic of an adult human's full dentition of 32 teeth.

Panoramic x-ray



Teeth numbers and names

The tooth number gives you two pieces of information such as the name of it and also the location of it in your mouth.

  • Tooth 1 = Upper right wisdom tooth

  • Tooth 2 = Upper right second molar

  • Tooth 3 = Upper right first molar

  • Tooth 4 = Upper right second premolar

  • Tooth 5 = Upper right first premolar

  • Tooth 6 = Upper right canine

  • Tooth 7 = Upper right lateral incisor

  • Tooth 8 = Upper right central incisor

  • Tooth 9 = Upper left central incisor

  • Tooth 10 = Upper left lateral incisor

  • Tooth 11 = Upper left canine

  • Tooth 12 = Upper left first premolar

  • Tooth 13 = Upper left second premolar

  • Tooth 14 = Upper left first molar

  • Tooth 15 = Upper left second molar

  • Tooth 16 = Upper left wisdom tooth

  • Tooth 17 = Bottom left wisdom tooth

  • Tooth 18 = Bottom left second molar

  • Tooth 19 = Bottom left first molar

  • Tooth 20 = Bottom left second premolar

  • Tooth 21 = Bottom left first premolar

  • Tooth 22 = Bottom left canine

  • Tooth 23 = Bottom left lateral incisor

  • Tooth 24 = Bottom left central incisor

  • Tooth 25 = Bottom right central incisor

  • Tooth 26 = Bottom right lateral incisor

  • Tooth 27 = Bottom right canine

  • Tooth 28 = Bottom right first premolar

  • Tooth 29 = Bottom right second premolar

  • Tooth 30 = Bottom right first molar

  • Tooth 31 = Bottom right second molar

  • Tooth 32 = Bottom right wisdom tooth



Tooth number chart by quadrants

Your teeth are often charted and divided into quadrants because there is the same amount and type of teeth in each quadrant. There are four quadrants in your mouth.

  • Upper right - Teeth 1 through 8

  • Upper left - Teeth 9 through 16

  • Lower right - Teeth 17 through 24

  • Lower left - Teeth 25 through 32

There are 8 teeth in each quadrant and they each contain 4 types of teeth.

  • Three molars

  • Two premolars

  • One canine

  • Two incisors


When are quadrants used in dentistry?

The most common dental procedures, which uses quadrants instead of numbering would be deep teeth cleanings and gum surgery. Both of these treatments are usually performed on two quadrants at a time. This means that in order to complete the entire treatment, it would require two separate visits. There are exceptions for the deep cleanings because sometimes you may be able to do all of it in a single visit.




Teeth number chart by tooth names

This is a chart of the different tooth types and their respective number.

  • Molar teeth - Numbers 1-3, 14-19, 30-32

  • Bicuspid teeth - Numbers 3-4, 12-13, 20-21, 28-29

  • Canine teeth - Numbers 6, 11, 22, 27

  • Central incisor teeth - Numbers 8-9, 24-25

  • Lateral incisor teeth - Numbers 7, 10, 23, 26

  • Wisdom teeth - Numbers 1, 16, 17, 32

What numbers are wisdom teeth?

Well, there are 4 wisdom teeth in your mouth on average and they are numbers 1, 16, 17, and 32. There are exceptions because some people have more than 4 wisdom teeth!


Which teeth are the anterior teeth?

The anterior teeth are your front teeth and you have a set on the top and a set on the bottom. The top teeth are numbers 6 through 11 while the bottom ones are 22 through 27.


Which teeth are the posterior teeth?

The posterior are all of the teeth in the back of your mouth. There are more posterior teeth than anterior teeth.




Takeaway

Here in the US, we use the universal tooth numbering system so the teeth are numbered from 1 to 32. Other parts of the world uses a different system so they would be numbered differently. This guide is for understanding the american way and would be helpful to you if you visited a dentist in the US.


This way you would understand which tooth in your mouth needs a cavity filling and which tooth should be flossed or brushed more! If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to schedule a dental check up with our dental office.


This article was written by Dr David Chen, a cosmetic dentist in long island city.


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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!