Teeth Numbering: Palmer, International, Universal System for Children and Adults

Taking into account the fact that an average adult person has the full set of thirty two teeth, it might be really complicated for a patient to tell his dentist, which exactly tooth gives the discomforting sensation. And not less complicated is it for a dentist to figure out the true sense of the descriptions like "it is the fourth tooth back from the left front one on the upper jaw".

And only imagine how badly hindered will be the dentist's work, if he would use such long descriptions, when communicating with his colleagues! To avoid the confusing situations in the professional dentistry field, the decision about the need of the universal teeth numbering system has been brought to life starting yet from the mid forties.

What Is the Principle behind the Teeth Numbering?

So, the teeth numbering system is designed to develop the standard reference principle to each particular tooth. Three different methods have been employed throughout the teeth numbering history, and only two of them get commonly used nowadays.

The first system the American Dental Association accepted yet in 1947 was the Palmer Notation Method. However, soon enough, the ADA experts were bound to give up the idea of widely using this teeth numbering system, since it required specific symbols usage to number each tooth; and this lead to considerable difficulties, when typing them on the keyboards.

This way, in 1968, the ADA first employed the International Teeth Numbering System, which has been earlier successfully tried out by the Federation Dentaire Internationale and then, World Health Organization. Apart from that, a bit simplified Universal Teeth Numbering System gets nowadays employed on the equal terms with the international one in the US.

Similarly to the formerly used Palmer teeth numbering system, the two nowadays employed ones feature a separate chart for the primary and permanent teeth, whereas the teeth numbering principles has the root differences.

What Is the Principle behind the Palmer Notation Method?

Even though this teeth numbering system gets highly rarely used by general dentists, it is still widely employed by the oral surgeons and orthodontists in their professional communication.

According to the Palmer Notation Method, the oral cavity gets subdivided into four sections, professionally termed "quadrants". The teeth numbering starts with the central teeth and runs to the back ones.

What is the Palmer Notation Principle for Adults?

Due to the different number of teeth, the Palmer Notation Method offers totally different teeth numbering system diagram for the primary and permanent teeth. This way, each of the eight permanent teeth, belonging to different quadrants, have their unique identification symbol.

So, the teeth numbering system for adult patients starts with the incisor, which gets the corresponding number "1" mark. And consequently, the tooth number "8" is a wisdom tooth. And finally, the corresponding tooth number gets placed inside the L-like symbol, which identifies the quadrant it belongs to. Later on, the four mouth sections have also got the identifications composed of three or two uppercase letters. For instance, the upper right sections can be written down as the "URQ" or just "UR".

What is the Palmer Notation Principle for Children?

According to this teeth numbering system, the uppercase letters are used to name primary teeth instead of the numbers, whereas the identical symbols or letters combinations get still employed to name the quadrants. This way, the primary teeth get the A-E teeth numbering chart for each of the four oral cavity sections.

What Is the Principle behind the International Teeth Numbering System?

Similarly to the Palmer Notation Method, the International Teeth Numbering System requires the oral cavity to be subdivided into the quadrants and thus, each tooth, starting with the incisor, gets identified by the corresponding 1 to 8 number.

However, each quadrant is not marked with symbols or letters, but gets the corresponding number code assigned. That is why the International Teeth Numbering System gets commonly called the two-digit or else FDI notation system.

What Are the International Teeth Numbering System Principles for Adults and Children?

So, according to the International Teeth Numbering System, each tooth gets identified by its quadrant and number codes. The quadrants number ranges from 1 to 4 for adult patients and consequently, from 5 to 8 for children.

And the tooth number code follows the same 1 to 8 diagram for both permanent and primary teeth. So, those molars, which kids never develop, are simply left unmarked.

What Is the Principle behind the Universal Teeth Numbering System?

Unlike the two above-mentioned teeth numbering patterns the universal one does not divide the oral cavity into the quadrants and thus, offers unique number for each tooth. What is more, the teeth numbering starts with the patient's right third molar on his upper jaw.

What is the Universal Teeth Numbering System for Adults?

From the third molar number 1, the teeth numbering continues to the upper jaw left molar (number 16), then, proceeds to the left third molar on the lower jaw , and end ups with the right wisdom tooth (number 32) on the lower jaw.

This way, if a patient failed to develop his third molars or has missing teeth, the corresponding teeth numbers will be simply skipped. For instance, the tooth number 16 will be followed by the number 18 one, if you have your left lower wisdom tooh missing.

What is the Universal Teeth Numbering System for Children?

From the very beginning of the Universal Teeth Numbering System implementation, primary teeth 1-20 numbers have been assigned according to the same pattern, starting with the second premolar; but the small letter "d" has been placed after the corresponding tooth number.

However the majority of nowadays dentists use the modified type of this teeth numbering system, where the letters A-T get used instead of the numbers.

And finally, now, you have got a brilliant chance to surprise your dentist with your teeth numbering basics knowledge, and also make your dental problem diagnosis much easier for him. Be healthy and wealthy!