Since the 1990s, there have been several attempts at making fonts for computers that mimic the various ways that dentists use to write down the notation of teeth, particularly using Palmer notation. Since the advent of the digital age, adaptations have been made when communicating with other dentists in using other types of notation in the UK.
In dentistry, and in communications between dentists, knowledge of the exact tooth being discussed is most important.
Of course, in the USA, notation style is entirely different.
Click here to download 8 Dentagraphics fonts as a zip file, by kind permission of Dr John McCormack.
Upper right 4 in Palmer notation
This set of 8 fonts were originally published on a website named Dentagraphics, and are reproduced here for use in dentistry with Dr McCormack's permission.
Additionally in 2009, Dr McCormack has written a short article - click here about how the fonts were developed. These fonts include images of teeth, one with root fillings, one with orthodontic brackets attached, Palmer notation, tooth crowns and implants. Click on the images above for further illustration.
In additon, GDPUK can offer for download some open licence Palmer fonts created by Dr Mark Preston BDS. This Zip file contains four fonts, some information and a licence to use them.
Dental notation systems vary around the world, and some of the earlier systems are gradually being superceded as they do not easily fit in with the use of computers.
Teeth are named by their set, arch, class, type, and side. Teeth can belong to one of two sets of teeth: primary ("baby") teeth or permanent teeth. Often, "deciduous" may be used in place of "primary", and "adult" may be used for "permanent". There are maxillary or upper teeth, there are mandibular or lower teeth. There are incisors, canines, premolars and molars. They are also placed as being from the left or right. Obviously, in professional communications, all this information is extremely important, ensuring all parties understand the meaning of exactly which tooth is being described.
There are several different notation systems used to describe the teeth in this way, the three most common are
The FDI and "universal" [used in USA] methods use numbers only, and thus representing them using a computer is not complex.
However, the Palmer notation, which is still widely used by dental practitioners in the UK, is less easy to type using commonplace computer systems. The Palmer notation consists of a symbol (┘└ ┐┌) designating in which quadrant [ie which quarter of the mouth] the tooth is found and a number indicating the position from the midline. Permanent teeth are numbered 1 to 8, and primary teeth are indicated by a letter A to E.
The Palmer system evolved from the work of an Austrian dentist Adolf Zsigmondy [1816-1880] who devised the Zsigmondy cross in 1861.
An advantage of the Palmer notation is their "pictograph" style, users can visualise the tooth's position from the graphic. Many UK users of PCs replaced Palmer when typing with another sytem rarely used before the advent of dental computer use, prefixing the number of the the tooth with UR, UL, LL or LR according to the tooth's quadrant.
To read more about the other methods of communicating dental notation internationally, please read Dr Steve Bunn's excellent page at:
For more information also see: