Introduction to Dental Terminology

Introduction to Dental Terminology

Dental unit Ok, so you're here wanting to get an early start with some of the terminology you'll be using in the program you're about to start or thinking about entering. Or maybe you want to have a little more understanding of the "language" that they are speaking when you go to the dentist. Well, you have come to the right place! This lesson will give you a little insight into some of the terms that we'll use in the program, as well as in the field of dentistry.

Naturally, I have some things for us to go over, so here are the objectives of this lesson:

  1. Distinguish between the primary, secondary and mixed dentitions.
  2. Describe the arrangement of the teeth in each dentition, arch and quadrant.
  3. Identify any tooth in either dental arch by name and / or tooth letter or number.
  4. Demonstrate a use of the universal numbering system for deciduous and permanent teeth.
  5. Identify each tooth surface that is found on anterior and posterior teeth.

In order to meet these objectives, this lesson will contain a variety of instructional materials. As you go through the pages of this lesson, you may come across one of these- Link to Audio File If you click on this sound icon, you will be able to hear how a specific word is pronounced.

Helpful Hint

 

So, let's go to the next page and we can get you started!

Dentition

Picture of teeth The word dentition Link to Audio Filerefers to the general arrangement of teeth. Dentition basically tells you that specific teeth are found in a specific areas of the mouth and that the top teeth contact the lower teeth in a certain manner.

You may not realize it, but you already know some things about the dentition. You know that there are top and bottom teeth, as well as front and back teeth. Another thing you probably know is that at different times in our lives, different teeth are present. As an infant, we have baby teeth. As we get older, the baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth.

So, as we take a closer look at the term dentition, we find 3 types of dentitions or teeth that exist: 

1. Deciduous Teeth

2. Permanent Teeth

3. Mixed Dentition

 

 

 

Ok, it's time to see how this material is going so far. Here are 2 questions for you:

 Toggle open/close quiz question

 Toggle open/close quiz question

Mouth Divisions

Open mouth clipart A person's mouth can be divided into smaller sections. It can be divided into top and bottom, as well as into right and left sides. Let's look at these divisions a little more.

The mouth can be divided into a top and a bottom jaw and we call these arches. The top arch is called the maxilla or maxillary arch and the bottom arch is called the mandible or mandibular arch.

Each arch can be further divided into a right and left side. By doing this, we end up with something that's called a quadrant. Since each arch has 2 quadrants, there are 4 quadrants in a mouth.

 

Helpful Hint

 

Here is a quick question to make sure everything is going okay: Toggle open/close quiz question

 

Quadrants

In order to make sure that everyone in the dental field is talking about the same thing, we use a standard method of naming and numbering quadrants.

There are 4 quadrants:

Maxillary Right (quadrant 1)

Maxillary Left (quadrant 2)

Mandibular Right (quadrant 4)

Mandibular Left (quadrant 3)

divided by a midline

Let's see how you do with a question on quadrants: Toggle open/close quiz question

 

I'm wondering.... did you notice that quadrant 1 starts in the upper right with quadrant 4 ending in the lower right? This quadrant 1 - 4 pattern will actually come into play when we talk about tooth numbering.

 

If you want to see a video that reviews information discussing arches and quadrants, please click here.

(Video transcript)

Names of Teeth

Front view of the teeth So, do you already know the names for each type of tooth? If so, that's great! If not, that's okay. We'll take a look at this so you will know them too!

The different types of teeth that are found in the mouth include:

 

To see where each of these teeth are located within the maxillary arch, take a look at this next exercise:  Hyperlink to Hot Spot Activity 

Now comes a set of tougher questions, so let's see how you do with these! They will test to see how well you looked at the Hot Spot Activity above.

I'm ready to see the first one!

Ok, I am so ready for the next question!

Types of Teeth

Anterior teeth

Many wood teeth Anterior teeth are the teeth that are found in the front of the mouth. Anterior teeth are found in both the maxillary and mandibular arches, as well as in the deciduous and permanent dentitions.

The following teeth are anterior teeth:

Posterior teeth

Posterior teeth are the teeth that are found in the back of the mouth. Posterior teeth are found in both the maxillary and mandibular arches, as well as in the deciduous and permanent dentitions.

The following teeth are posterior teeth:

So, it's once again time to see how things are going with this material. Here is another little test: Toggle open/close quiz question

Before we go on, let's make sure that you are comfortable with the different types of teeth that are found in a dentition:

 Hyperlink to SeekaWord Activity 

Deciduous Dentition - Types of Teeth

Large resin tooth When looking at the deciduous or primary dentition, we see a slight difference from that of a permanent dentition.

In a deciduous dentition, the following teeth are present in each quadrant:

Anterior teeth

The primary anterior teeth include:

Posterior teeth

The primary posterior teeth include:

Helpful Hints

Here is another little review question for you- Toggle open/close quiz question

Arch Positions

Large arch To help make the previous page of information more understandable, I want to go over the teeth that will be found in any given quadrant. To do this, let's take a look at the teeth that are found in quadrant 1. Remember, each quadrant will have similar findings, but we are only looking at quadrant 1 in this example.

 

Starting with the most posterior tooth of the right side of the maxillary arch and working forward, we will have the following teeth in a primary dentition:

Table of primary teeth

Now let's do the same thing for the permanent dentition. Starting with the most posterior tooth of the right side of the maxillary arch and working forward, we will have the following teeth:

Permanent teeth table

Here are some things to learn about the primary and permanent dentitions from the above tables / pictures:

  1. There are 5 primary and 8 permanent teeth in any given quadrant.
  2. When naming a primary tooth, we must always include the word "primary".
  3. When naming a permanent tooth, we do not include the word "permanent".

Here is another activity to make sure you are doing okay with this material:

 Hyperlink to Crossword Activity 

This activity will require that you put a lot of things together that we have talked about, but will also make you really think!

  Hyperlink to DragNDrop Activity 

Primary Tooth Letters

Block letters In order to identify a specific primary tooth, each primary tooth is given a letter and a name. This Universal Numbering System allows everyone to be talking about the same tooth. In the primary dentition, letters A - T are present. Letters A - J are in the maxillary arch and letters K - T are in the mandibular arch.

Starting with the last tooth in quadrant 1, we have letter A. As we go forward or towards the midline, we have letters B, C, D and E. Letter F is found at the midline in quadrant 2. We continue lettering until we reach letter J at the end of quadrant 2. Therefore, tooth letters A - J are found in the maxillary arch.

Moving down into the mandibular arch and specifically the back of quadrant 3, we continue with letter K. Moving from the posterior aspect of quadrant 3 towards the midline, have letter O. At the midline, we cross into quadrant 4 and have letter P. Lettering is continued until we end with the last letter in quadrant 4, letter T.

Tooth Letters

  

As you saw is the photo album, lettering of the primary teeth starts with the last tooth in the upper right quadrant (letter A) and continues over to the last tooth in the upper left quadrant (letter J). From here, lettering continues with the last tooth in the lower left quadrant (letter K) and continues until we reach the last tooth in the lower right quadrant (letter T).

 

If you want to see a video that reviews information on tooth lettering, please click here.

 (Video transcript)

 

 

Yes, it's that time again- it's time to see how you're doing with this material.

 Toggle open/close quiz question

 Toggle open/close quiz question

 Toggle open/close quiz question

Tooth Numbers - Permanent Teeth

Large numbers In order to identify a specific permanent tooth, each tooth is given a number and a name. This Universal Numbering System allows everyone to be talking about the same tooth. The maxillary arch contains tooth numbers 1 - 16 and the mandibular arch contains tooth numbers 17 – 32.

As with the primary teeth, numbering is done in a specific manner. Numbering begins in the posterior aspect of Quadrant 1 and goes forward towards the midline. Crossing the midline, numbering continues to the posterior aspect of the Quadrant 2. Moving down into Quadrant 3, numbering continues as we go from posterior to anterior. We cross over the midline and into Quadrant 4 and continue to the posterior aspect of this quadrant.

Here is another self-check question- Toggle open/close quiz question

Tooth Numbers - Permanent Teeth

Each permanent tooth is given a number. Here is a list of the permanent tooth numbers and names.

Tooth Numbers

  

Here are a few questions with regards to the numbering and naming of teeth:

Toggle open/close quiz question

 Toggle open/close quiz question

 

Things to learn from the photo album:

1. not all people will have their third molars (they may have never developed, not erupted or removed).

2. if a tooth is not present, the number is still assigned to that tooth and the number is skipped.

 

 

If you want to see a video that reviews information on tooth numbering, please click here.

(Video transcript)

 

 Here is a matching question that deals with tooth letters and numbers.

 

Tooth Surfaces

This is the last area that we'll cover in this lesson. To help introduce you to the subject of tooth surfaces, let me give you an example.

Suppose you tell me that you need tooth #9 filled because it has a cavity. First of all, did you realize that you just told me that the maxillary left central incisor has the cavity?

In order to work on tooth #9, I will put the tooth to "sleep" by giving you a local anesthetic. Once tooth #9 is "sleeping", I start to work on it. All of a sudden, you realize that I am working in the wrong area on the tooth! Doesn't sound great, does it? We avoid issues like this by giving each side of a tooth a specific name. These sides on a tooth are called tooth surfaces.

The crown of any tooth is divided into surfaces and these surfaces are named according to the direction in which they face. Colored box

Let me demonstrate the idea of tooth surfaces by using a box. If the box is sitting on a table, we can see that it has 5 sides to it (not including the side the table is touching). If I asked you to draw an O on the top of the box, you can easily do that since you know which side or surface is the top. You could also label any of the other sides, if I told you which side I was talking about. Let's go to the next page to show you how these principles can be applied to a tooth.

 

 

 

 

Tooth Surfaces

Maxillary arch clipart Using teeth in the maxillary arch, let's take a look at the location of the tooth surfaces that can be found on each of the teeth.

Helpful Hints

 

 

 

 

 

The terms listed below are tooth surfaces.

Mesial

Distal

Facial (labial)

Buccal

Lingual

Palatal

Occlusal

Incisal

So, now that we have talked about tooth surfaces, let's finish up this lesson with some final questions.

 Toggle open/close quiz question

 Toggle open/close quiz question

  

Final Thoughts

The Toothful Exchange We've come to the end of this lesson. Some of the areas that were covered will take time to fully master.The best way to become comfortable with this new language is to practice.

So, do you want or more practice or additional learning material? How about additional videos, tutorials or even iQuiz games that relate to this material, as well as other information dealing with the field of dental assisting and / or dental hygiene?

 If so, then here is the place for you - The Toothful Exchange. Get some coffee and come visit the site.

Or do you want more information on dental assisting and dental hygiene programs? If so, here are some links for you:

American Dental Association, Allied Dental Programs

GTCC Dental Assisting Program

GTCC Dental Hygiene Program

Clip art images: CorelDraw image / LifeArt image copyright. All rights reserved.