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An Overview of Dental Anatomy

Course Number: 500

Surfaces of the Teeth

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 (e.g., distal of lateral incisor and mesial of canine).

surfaces of the teeth

Figure 6. Surfaces of the Teeth.