During their training, dental assistants will learn a wide range of information and skills. One of the first and most basic dental assisting skills that is taught is the tooth numbering system. Did you know that each tooth in the mouth is given a specific number? The tooth numbering system is used because it is an effective way to track which tooth a dentist is working on.
What is the Universal Numbering System?
The most commonly used system of tracking teeth is called the universal numbering system. It has been adopted by the American Dental Association and is used by almost every dentist in the United States. It is also commonly known as the “American System” since it is mainly used in America.
Why is it used?
There are a lot of teeth in the mouth and it would be difficult to merely describe which tooth needed work. Dentists also use this system in charting patient information. As basic dental assisting skills are taught, the student will learn how to track a patients information in the patient chart. Using tooth numbers is an effective way to record which teeth had work done or are in need of work in the future.
How does it work?
The Universal Numbering System uses the numbers 1 through 32. The wisdom teeth are counted in this numbering system, so some people may not actually have all 32 teeth in their mouth at one time. Numbering starts on the top right side of the mouth with tooth number 1. It continues along the top arch and ends with tooth number 16 as the last tooth on the top left. Counting then continues on the bottom arch with the tooth farthest back on the left side as tooth number 17. It continues along the bottom arch and ends on the far back right with tooth number 32.
Are there other ways to number teeth?
Yes. There are a several systems of tooth numbering available around the world. The Universal Numbering System is used in the United States but there are other more common methods used in different countries. Some specialists like orthodontists and oral surgeons may use a different system that meets their needs better.
Why is tooth numbering one of the basic dental assisting skills?
Dental assistants use tooth numbering all day long when they are on the job. They need to know the numbering well. They are also taught other basic dental assisting skills such as tooth anatomy and structures.