Dental numbers


  • Adult (permanent) teeth identified by numbers
    • From the midline to the back of the mouth on each side, there is a central incisor, a lateral incisor, a canine, two premolars (bicuspids), and three molars
  • Children (non-permanent) teeth identified by letters
  • Common landmarks:
    • 1: Right upper wisdom
    • 8 & 9: Upper incisors
    • 16: Left upper wisdom
    • 17: Left lower wisdom
    • 24 & 25: Lower incisors
    • 32: Right lower wisdom

Tooth descriptors

  • Maxillary teeth: upper row
  • Mandibular teeth: lower row
  • Facial: Portion of tooth seen when the mouth is open/smiles. Applicable to all teeth
    • Labial: facial surface of the incisors and canines
    • Buccal: facial surface of the premolars and molars
  • Oral: Portion of tooth that faces the tongue or palate. Applies to all teeth
    • Lingual: Toward the tongue; the oral surface of the mandibular teeth
    • Palatal: Toward the palate; the oral surface of the maxillary teeth
  • Apical: Toward the tip of the root of the tooth
  • Coronal: Toward the crown or the biting surface of the tooth
    • Occlusal: Biting or chewing surface of the premolars and molars
    • Incisal: Biting or chewing surface of the incisors and canines
  • Approximal/interproximal: contacting surfaces between two adjacent teeth
    • Mesial: interproximal surface facing anteriorly or closest to the midline
    • Distal: interproximal surface facing posteriorly or away from the midline [1]

See Also


  1. Benko K. Emergency Dental Procedures. In: Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2014.