Have you ever listened to your dentist talk to their assistant (as he or she roots around in your mouth) and wondered what in the world they are saying? Shouldn’t you have some idea of the dental terms they use? After all, this is YOUR mouth they are talking about. Dental lingo is its own interesting animal but once you understand that the concepts are based on a number system, it’s pretty easy to catch on.
First of all, when a dentist is peering in your mouth, they may refer to your upper and lower teeth by numbered quadrants. That’s because they divide the top sections from the bottom sections and divide again, for each side, to refer to specific areas. As you may have guessed, you have 4 total quadrants in your mouth.
Also, your gum health is determined by the distance between your gums. The smaller the gap between your tooth and gum, the healthier the mouth. The larger gap indicates signs of plaque build up or inflammation. So, if you are sitting in the dental chair and happen to over hear a discussion involving millimeter measurements, pipe up and say, “Hey! How is my gum to tooth gap measuring?” I’m sure you’ll take them by surprise.
Lastly, in order to keep track of your teeth and problem areas, dentists use a 2 digit numbering system to refer to each tooth. When your dentist calls out a number to the assistant, they will likely refer to the quadrant number plus the specific tooth number for careful note taking.
Although it was a brief lesson(that sounded an awful lot like math class), hopefully the insight into your dentist’s lingo will give you a better, overall understanding of what’s happening in an appointment. Of course, you can always ask your dentist to explain things more clearly, since they are there to help!