What Do Tooth Numbers Mean?

Often when I see patients they ask me “I was told I need a procedure done on a tooth -but I can’t figure out which tooth they meant- what is tooth number 15?” Tooth “15” means an upper right premolar – but as a patient you can be forgiven for not knowing.

Here is a very quick introduction to tooth numbering, and some useful simple diagrams to help you.

There are two systems of tooth numbering that you may need to be aware of.

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Do I Really Need A Tooth Extraction?

Forceps used for tooth extraction

“I don’t want a tooth extraction!” – a sentence us dentists hear all the time. Many patients are apprehensive about having a tooth extraction – and for good reason! If we take a tooth out we usually need to figure out a way to fill the space so you can look good, chew well, and have comfortable teeth. Replacing a tooth after a tooth extraction can be tricky – so it is usually a big priority to hold onto natural teeth.

Believe it (or not) dentist’s spend most of their careers trying to NOT take out teeth – I spend alot of time trying to fix broken teeth to keep them in the mouth. We avoid tooth extraction wherever possible – nothing beats natural!

But when a tooth is broken or sore, we first might try to fix it with a restoration (filling) or crown. Even if the nerve has died or an abscess had formed – there are treatments possible that might save the tooth!

Unfortunately – sometimes a tooth is SO broken down that we run out of options to save your tooth – meaning you need the dreaded tooth extraction.

Reasons For Tooth Extraction

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How Many Teeth Do Adults Have?

Something that I get asked surprisingly often is “How many teeth do adults have?” Many kids can tell me straight away how many teeth are in their mouth – but the average adult seems to not be sure. It comes up surprisingly often at trivia nights – so is definitely useful to know.

The average adult human will have 32 teeth total. This includes four wisdom teeth (“Third molars”). Although less teeth than the average Tyrannosaur, 32 teeth is still plenty.

Some people will be born with fewer teeth.

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