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The Dental Jargon - Meanings of Different Letters and Numbers


Posted on 4/1/2024 by Weo Admin
Dentists smiling with patient at Jason Widner DMD Family Dentistry in Sammamish, WALike many specialized fields, dentistry has its unique language filled with numbers and letters. Understanding these codes is essential for patients to comprehend their treatment plans.

The Quadrants in Your Mouth


Your mouth is divided into four quadrants: upper right, upper left, lower left, and lower right. Starting from the top right side and working clockwise, quadrant 1 is on the top right, quadrant 2 is on the top left, quadrant 3 is on the bottom left, and quadrant 4 is on the bottom right. Each adult tooth within a quadrant receives a unique number, ranging from 1 for the wisdom tooth in the upper right to 32 for its counterpart in the lower right. On the other hand, baby teeth are assigned letters A through T.

What the Letters Mean


Teeth are anatomically classified based on their specific regions. The Mesial (M) aspect refers to the front edge, while the Distal (D) indicates the back edge. Buccal (B) denotes the outer edge closest to the cheek, whereas Palatal (P) or Lingual (L) describes the inner edge nearest to the tongue. Occlusal (O) represents the biting surface found on molars and premolars, while Incisal (I) designates the biting edge of incisors and canines. These classifications help in precise dental assessments and treatments.

Numbering the Gums


Dentists use gum gap measurements to evaluate gum health. The gap between your gum pocket and tooth determines the number assigned to each tooth. Dentists measure the distance between teeth and gums in millimeters. A smaller number is good, indicating healthy gums. Larger numbers mean gum issues. A 1-3 mm measurement shows healthy gums, indicating good dental care. If your gum number is 5 mm or higher, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning to remove the buildup between the tooth and gum. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases, but less invasive treatments are usually tried first.

Understanding dental jargon enables you to actively participate in your dental care. It also helps foster a partnership with our dentist based on mutual understanding and communication.

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