Occasionally, we have patients who ask us questions, namely the number of teeth that an adult has, their name and function.

So we thought of writing an article on the subject.

Number and types of permanent teeth (adults)

32 teeth total (including wisdom teeth)
– Anterior teeth (front – from one canine to another canine): 8 incisors and 4 canines
– Posterior teeth (rear – called large teeth: 8 premolars and 12 molars










Function of different types of teeth

Incisors: they cut food
Canines: they tear and hold food
Premolars: they tear and crush
Molars: they grind and crush










Teeth nomenclature

In our professional jargon, a nomenclature allows us to identify the teeth of our patients.
We first speaks of the arch, after the quadrants, then the teeth.


Maxillary arch: upper teeth
Mandibular arch: lower teeth











In order for communication between professionals to be effective, there are specific numbers for quadrants and teeth.


Because it may be useful to identify teeth per section to target a region of several teeth, the mouth is divided into four sections called quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1 (top right)
  • Quadrant 2 (top left)
  • Quadrant 3 (bottom left)
  • Quadrant 4 (bottom right)









Teeth number
As mention, to be precise, there is a number for each permanent teeth.











To count, we start with quadrant 1 (upper right), with the front incisor (11) and going to the right: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. Look at the image above to understand better. ?

We continue with quadrant 2 (upper left), with the second incisor in front (21) and count towards the left: 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28.

Then, we remain on the left side, but now at the bottom with quadrant 3, we continue with the front incisor (31) and count towards the left: 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38.

We end with quadrant 4 (bottom-right), with the second incisor in front (41) and count towards the right: 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48. Again, if it is not clear, look at the image above.

Teeth numbered 18, 28, 38 and 48 correspond to the 3rd molar, better known as the wisdom teeth. In many cases, these are extracted for various reasons: teeth included, infection, decay, lack of space on the arch or simply in prevention.

The same applies to premolars, i.e. teeth numbered 14 or 15, 24 or 25, 34 or 35, and 44 or 45. Occasionally, these extractions also correct a problem of missing space.

Teeth parts and definition









La couronne / CROWN: The crown is the part of the tooth that protrudes out of the gum. A very hard substance, dental enamel, naturally covers this area.

L’émail / ENAMEL: The enamel is the white outer part of the crown of the teeth. Dental enamel is very hard; it is the most solid substance of the body.

La dentine / DENTIN: Dentin, also called ivory, is a calcified tissue that is covered with enamel. Dentin is yellowish and translucent in color and may be apparent if the tooth enamel is thin.

La gencive / GUM: The gum is the pink part around each tooth and ensures the role of watertight sleeve. It is pink because it contains keratin. The gingiva also covers the alveolar bone.

La pulpe (nerf) / PULP (NERV): The pulp is the innermost part of the tooth. It is made of living tissues: nerves, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels.

La racine / ROOT: The root is the structure of a tooth located in the bone. In general, the canines and incisors have only one dental root whereas the premolars have two, and the molars three.

Dentistry wise, you are now better informed. Just like professionals, you are able to identify your archs, quadrants and teeth.

If you want more information, do not hesitate to communicate with our team members at Ortho Cité. Moreover, to get the wonderful smile you have always dreamed of, make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Serge Yacoub.

Dr Serge Yacoub
Spécialiste en orthodontie
Ortho Cité
5970, rue Sherbrooke Est
Montréal, Québec H1N 1B8
514 255-7553