top of page


at Thorpe Bay Dental

  • Writer's pictureThorpe Bay Dental

What are they saying? A guide to codes used by our dentist

When you come to see our dental team for a check-up, you will probably know the drill. No pun intended!

You are greeted by one of our nurses, you get into the chair, and then one of our friendly team members begins the check-up. But for many patients, that is when things get weird.

Dental jargon, or code as it is also known, is spoken by the dentist to the nurse during check-ups, and if you haven’t worked in the dental field, you may be curious to know precisely what is being said about your teeth. But our team at Thorpe Bay Dental is here to lift the veil!

At Thorpe Bay Dental, our dentist in Thorpe Bay is a big advocate of not only empowering patients with knowledge about dental care but also making them as comfortable as possible! And if that means helping you understand our medical jargon a bit better, then why not?

While we cannot fit all of the information in this article, here are some of the things you are likely to hear during your visit to our dentist in Thorpe Bay.

Tooth sections

Have you ever heard our dentist in Thorpe Bay say “distal watch” or “occlusal watch” during a check-up? Distal and occlusal are parts of the tooth, and the watch part means that they have put a ‘watch’ on that tooth, as a cavity or a crack may be forming.

The teeth are broken down into the following sections;

Mesial: the front edge of the tooth or the part you can see in the mirror.

Distal: the back edge of the tooth.

Buccal: the edge of the tooth nearest to the inner cheeks.

Palatal or lingual: the part of the tooth closest to the tongue.

Occlusal: the biting surface of a molar or premolar tooth.

Incisal: the biting edge of an incisor or canine tooth.


Another part of a check-up involves the gums being assessed by our team, and yes, that does involve them being poked to evaluate whether or not they bleed! But this part of the exam also requires gum depths to be assessed too.

This part is numbered, and here is a quick break down;

Code 0: healthy gums, no bleeds when probed and pocket depth under 3.5 mm.

Code 1: slight bleeding when poked, pocket depth under 3.5 mm.

Code 2: slight bleed when probed, plaque or calculus visible on the tooth, pocket depth under 3.5mm.

Code 3: Calculus and or plaque present under the gum, pockets ranging from 3.5 mm-5.5 mm.

Code 4: Calculus and or plaque present under the gum, gingival pockets larger than 5.5mm.


So, if you have had a filling or a crown, this will be recorded during your check-up, as will the presence of the fitting. Is it loose? Or is it still in place? You may hear a member of our team say “composite occlusal filling”, which simply means you have a filling on the biting area of your tooth that is made of composite.

The same rule applies to amalgam, except the word amalgam is used in place of composite. Simple!


bottom of page