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How to use a numbered tooth chart

by Jakeslessor

Before you start getting braces, it’s essential to know how the teeth are numbered on the chart. The way that we label the teeth in braces may seem strange at first, but there’s logic behind it all. You can start to learn how to use a numbered tooth chart by looking at your own set of teeth, or you can ask your orthodontist to show you how to use it during your next appointment. This way, you’ll be prepared to use this type of tooth chart before you even get braces!


What Is a Numbered Tooth Chart

A key factor in understanding how dentists and dental hygienists identify your teeth is that these professionals rely on numbers, not letters, to describe positions. With a numbered tooth chart (also called an identification guide or dental numbering system), you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where your molars are located. Most charts also include information on canine teeth, premolars and incisors, as well as front surface teeth such as cuspids and bicuspids. Take note that while we typically refer to 28 permanent teeth in total (12 incisors, 8 premolars and 8 molars), there are some variations; one common example is that young children often lose their second set of baby molars before their first adult set comes in.


There Are Many Different Ways to Use Them


Once you know how a tooth chart is organized, it’s time to look at how they can be used. Dentists, hygienists and other dental professionals all use charts like these when examining patients or teaching patients about their oral health. But, there are many different ways that you can use them as well! Parents can also get involved by using charts at home for regular oral hygiene checks. Charts make an excellent learning tool for kids of all ages as well. They’re easy to understand and serve as an important way for them to track their dental health on their own.


Finding the Number on Your Tooth


A number is on each tooth. This number is visible when you remove a damaged or discolored section of enamel. The numbers may not always be exactly in line with the edges of your teeth, so you will need to know how to recognize where they are located relative to your cusp tips. Your dental hygienist can help you identify what numbers are on your teeth and which ones are missing or illegible. Once you know where they are located, here’s how to find them

Another Example

The short guide will have 26 teeth in all, including 4 corner teeth (1-4) and 10 middle teeth (5-14). Note that even though there are spaces between 11 and 12, they can’t be counted separately from each other. You must always treat them as one unit, called 11/12. The same goes for 16 and 17, called 16/17, or for 18 and 19: 18/19.


Tips for Understanding Numbered Tooth Charts


Anyone in a dental office has likely seen one. The two or three posters with hundreds of tiny, neatly lined up teeth, showing every variation of decay and discoloration. These are what dentists call numbered tooth charts or even just tooth charts. There is no getting around it: there is so much information presented on these charts that it can be overwhelming for anyone without proper training. The good news? That’s exactly why we have them! For everyone else, here are some tips for using numbered tooth charts to best understand your oral health needs


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