Palmer notation

Palmer notation, also known as the Zsigmondy system or Zsigmondy-Palmer system, is a nomenclature for numbering and naming of teeth, primarily used in the United Kingdom.

Similar to the FDI World Dental Federation notation, individual teeth within each quadrant of the dental arches are numbered from mesial to distal:

  • central incisor = 1
  • lateral incisor = 2
  • canine/cuspid = 3
  • 1st premolar/bicuspid = 4
  • 2nd premolar/bicuspid = 5
  • 1st molar = 6
  • 2nd molar = 7
  • 3rd molar = 8

The number is then partially bracketed with a symbol (┘└ ┐┌) that corresponds to the quadrant. The orientation and position of the symbol are such that if the mouth were to be divided by a cross from the viewpoint of the dental practitioner looking into the mouth, the symbol reflects the two line segments of the cross bounding that quadrant:

  • right upper (maxillary) quadrant = 
  • left upper (maxillary) quadrant =
  • left lower (mandibular) quadrant =
  • right lower (mandibular) quadrant =

Therefore, the notation 1 indicates the permanent right upper central incisor.

When listing multiple teeth, they may be depicted within the same line diagram structure, but this is difficult to demonstrate using standard text formatting on word processors and websites 1.

The deciduous teeth are lettered A through E from mesial to distal in each quadrant 2:

  • central incisor = A
  • lateral incisor = B
  • canine = C
  • 1st molar = D
  • 2nd molar = E

The bracket symbols for each quadrant is as in the permanent teeth.

Therefore, the notation Bindicates the primary right lower lateral incisor.

The system is named after Corydon Palmer, a dentist from Ohio, United States, who modified the system developed by Adolf Zsigmondy, a dentist from Hungary.

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Article information

rID: 70409
System: Head & Neck
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Palmer system for dental notation
  • Zsigmondy notation

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Cases and figures

  • Fig 1: orthopantomogram
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