Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Know the number

Unfortunately, I see patients everyday with horrible teeth.

I keep supplies in my office for an emergency brush and floss, on myself, whenever I finish looking in to one such mouth of a patient.

I've received dental consults back over the years with notes concerning work done on tooth #11,#12, #20 and #22, for example.

Finally, after MANY years, I decided to investigate how teeth are numbered.

The Universal tooth numbering system always starts on the right upper back-the third molar is tooth #1. It proceeds to the left upper back (third molar #16), then down to the bottom back left (tooth #17) and on around to the right lower back (tooth #32).

Numbers are assigned and remain the same even when a tooth has been pulled from the location it should lie.

Knowing this numbering system hasn't done a darn thing in improving the dental hygiene of my patients.

It just makes me feel good about using the dentists "lingo" when placing a consult or calling a dental colleague over the phone.

Even had one dentist remark that it was rare to have the referring medical provider use the numbering system, but that it was greatly appreciated.

I didn't let him know I was smiling on the other end of the phone.

Ah, it's the simple things in life that often bring joy!

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