Dental patients are often confused by their dental insurance coverage so O’Fallon dentist Dr. Edward Logan is writing a multi-part blog series to help explain some of the most common areas of confusion. In Part One of this series, we will address the common coding found on dental insurance EOBs in reference to tooth numbers and tooth surfaces. If you have a cavity that needs to be treated with a filling, the dentist will refer to the location of where the filling needs to be placed, both by tooth number and surface area of the tooth. Below is a quick primer on the words used to describe the surfaces of the tooth.

 

Tooth Surfaces

Buccal (B) – The side of the tooth closest to the cheek. This is used to refer to posterior teeth (those that are located in the back of the mouth).

 

Facial (F) or Labial (La) – The side of the tooth closest to the lips. This is used to refer to anterior teeth (those that are located in the front of the mouth near the lips.

 

Lingual (L) – The side of the tooth that is on the inside of the mouth, closest to the tongue.

 

Distal (D) – The surface of the tooth between two teeth that faces away from the front of the mouth.

 

Mesial (M) – The surface of the tooth between two teeth that faces toward the front of the mouth.

 

Occlusal (O) – The biting surface of the tooth.

 

Incisal Edge (I) – The biting edge of anterior teeth which do not have the flat occlusal surface of posterior teeth.

Tooth Numbering
 
Universal Numbering System
 

As for tooth numbering, the teeth begin on the top with Tooth 1 on the upper right hand corner and going through Tooth 16 on the upper arch. Tooth 1 and 16 are wisdom teeth and may not be present. Then the numbering continues with 17 beginning on the bottom left and ending with Tooth 32 on the bottom right. Tooth 17 and 32 are also wisdom teeth.