Universal Dental Notation

Dental Notation is a language used by dental professionals when they are writing about their finding and they use many dental notation systems in order to show the associated information on a certain tooth.

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Universal Dental Notation

Dental Notation is a language used by dental professionals when they are writing about their finding and they use many dental notation systems in order to show the associated information on a certain tooth.  There are 3 common methods; they are Palmer Notation Method, Universal Numbering System and ISO system. ISO system is the one used in the entire world while Universal method is used mostly in United States. ISO system may be adapted and entered into the computer.

Universal Dental Notation

What it is Universal Dental Notation?

Even if it is called universal, it is used mostly in the United States only.  Some also call it the American system to count teeth whether they are primary or permanent teeth. The doctor use upper case letters, starting at A to T and they are meant to show primary teeth and 1-32 are used to record the permanent teeth.   The tooth recorded as 1, it is a maxillary right third molar also known as wisdom tooth.  This count will continue to reach to upper teeth at the left side. The count will start again at Mandibular left third moral which is designated like the number 7. This continues to reach to a bottom tooth at its right side. Every tooth is given a certain letter or a number which can be entered by the keyboards.

What is the history in relation to counting teeth

Before, people were using the notation from German and Latin. The names given were lengthy. For example, when writing about Molaris Secundus Superior Sinister, they would write Mol II Scup Sin.  Afterwards,  Adolf Zsigomondy came up with the system where the tooth were put in four sets and each set had eight number and can be identified at the Zsigmondy grid which is used for the permanent dentition alone. After some years, the system got modified and it was used also with the primary dentition.

A Hillischer system that was being used to refer to a tooth type, it is logical but at the same time confusing since the colons or semi colons where used to distinguish permanent and primary teeth.  The next system was the use of Mons Dubois system which would show odd numbers and even number.  They were to represent the left and right quadrant.  Afterwards, the Universal numbering system came out and it is the official system used in America and it started to be used since 1975, when American Dental Association adopted it.

There is a need for the dentist to record the information on the tooth at a specific tooth.  So that every dentist can get the same meaning, the system used has to be universal for them all.  Since each number is assigned to each tooth, it is hard to make a mistake.  The data can also be entered easily into the computer and even if the system can be difficult for the beginners to follow, they will get it with extra training. It is easy to communicate using this system. For primary teeth, A is for Maxillary right second molar, the J stands for the maxillary second molar at the left, while K is found at the Mandibular second molar on the left and T stands for Mandibualar second molar on the right.

With the Universal Dental Notation for the permanent teeth, all teeth will be numbered regardless if they are in or not.  In case the wisdom tooth is not there, then the first number is going to be 2 and not 1. This is to acknowledge that there is a missing tooth

Who needs the Universal Dental Notation?

The Universal Dental Notation is the system which had been approved in America and the number used is designed for a specific and certain tooth and it reduces the confusion.   During the charting, a tooth will be referred to using a number and not a name.   The arrangement is important to the dental officers and their assistant because they will see the sides when they are reversed when they look in the mouth of the patient.  With the information, the dentist can locate the tooth easily and can work on it as required.

How Universal Dental Notation is used

The dental chart is used according to a viewpoint of the dental practitioner while facing the patient. The right side of the patient does appear at the left side of a chart while the left side of a patient will appear at a right side of a chart. When the dentists label a side left or right, it will be reflecting the left or right side of a patient.

For someone with permanent dentition, then

The upper right starts at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

The upper left starts at 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16

The lower right starts with 32, 31, 30, 29, 27, 26 and 25

The lower left starts at 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18 and 17

For the primary dentition

The upper right starts at A, B, C, D and E

The upper left starts at F, G, H, I and J

The lower right starts with T, S, R, Q and P

The upper left starts with O, N, M, L and K.

The primary dentition can also be marked as follows

The upper right, 1d, 2d, 3d, 4d, 5d,

Upper left: 6d, 7d, 8d, 9d and 10d

The lower right as 20d, 19d, 18d, 17d,

The lower left as 15d, 14d, 13d, 12d, 11d

According to their names:

For upper right

  • 3rd Molar is recorded as 1
  • 2nd Molar as 2,
  • First molar as 3
  • 2nd bicuspid as 4
  • 1st bicuspid as 5
  • Canine as 6
  • Lateral incisor as 7
  • Central incisor as 8

For the upper left

  • Central incision is recorded as 9
  • Lateral incisor as 10
  • Canine as 11
  • First bicuspid as 12
  • 2nd bicuspid as 13
  • 1st molar as 14
  • 3rd Molar as 16

Lower left

  • The 3rd molar is recorded as 17
  • 2nd molar as 18
  • 1st Molar as 19
  • 2nd bicuspid as 20
  • 1st bicuspid as 21
  • Canine as 22
  • Lateral incision as 23
  • Central incisor as 24

Lower right

  • Central incision is recorded as 25
  • Lateral incisor as 26
  • Canine as 27
  • 1st bicuspid as 28
  • 2nd bicuspid as 29
  • 1st Molar as 30
  • 2nd molar 31
  • 3rd molar as 32

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