When identifying teeth and referring to specific areas of a tooth, it is necessary to utilize named surfaces and directions designated according to where it is located. Teeth also have number/letter designations. There are several types of designation/identification systems, but the most common is the Universal System where the permanent dentition is numbered from 1-32 beginning with the maxillary right third molar.
- Distal – The surface that is away from the midline of the face.
- Facial – The surface that faces the cheeks or lips. Can also use the terms:
- Labial – The surface towards the lips.
- Buccal – The surface towards the cheeks.
- Incisal – The biting edge of an anterior tooth.
- Lingual – The surface that faces the tongue.
- Mesial – The surface that is closest to the midline of the face.
- Occlusal – The chewing surface of posterior teeth.
- Proximal – Tooth surfaces that are next to each other (i.e., distal of lateral incisor and mesial of canine).