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JLeslie's avatar

If I say the lower part of an upper tooth do you think I mean the part near the gum or the end of the tooth?

Asked by JLeslie (54594points) March 20th, 2012

I had a miscommunication with my dentist, and I am just so sick and tired of miscommunicating with healthcare professionals. I swear it is going to give me a nervous breakdown. I want to know what others assume if I said the lower part of my front upper tooth. She knew the tooth we were working on so all I said was, “I think it still needs to be filed more lower down on the tooth.” I had the tooth repaired and my bite was off, so she was filing it to try and help my problem.

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19 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think of it as being closer to the gum line since that’s closer to the root (bottom) of the tooth. It’s easy to think of when visualizing the bottom teeth since the root is down and the top grows up, but with the upper teeth the root is up, so I can see why it would cause some confusion.

janbb's avatar

I would think it would be the part that is further away from the gumline on a top tooth but I also can see the source of the confusion.

Dances_with_Werewolves's avatar

The title of your question makes me think of the end of the tooth, the quote you give in the details makes me think of the part near the gum. I think the context is important.

gailcalled's avatar

My dentist, when I use incorrect tooth language, gets his mirror and we both look in my mouth at the tooth and watch where he puts his instrument.

He would never take some vague recommendation of mine on face value. “The lower part of an upper tooth” is unclear as is your “I think it needs to be filed…”

Any competent dentist knows how to check and correct a bite that is off in tiny, incremental stages. You bite on the carbon paper, the dentist checks the stains on the teeth.

Perhaps you need a new dentist. You should not have to be a verbal virtuoso with your professional staff.

Judi's avatar

I would think you were talking about the part of your tooth closest to the bottom tooth, not where it meets the gum, but where it bites.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled That is what bothered me most. It was me who finally said, wait are you filing closer to the gum line now or further away? I think doctors should think to clarify. It seems like this is pretty easy to miscommunicate, I can’t have been the first patient to ever use the terminology.

@Dances_with_Werewolves I am actually not sure exactly what I said, I just know I used lower.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@JLeslie Which part were you referring to when you talked to your dentist?

JLeslie's avatar

@Seaofclouds The part farthest from the gum line. I can understand why it might be confusing, but I would think the average non medical person if they say lower on their tooth is referencing from a standing up position. Lower on my body means more towards my feet, doesn’t it?

To put it in full context I had said to her in the beginning that I can tell when I feel the bottom of my teeth with my tongue that the repaired one is thicker, and then I actually slightly opened my mouth and touched the part farthest from the gum line with my tongue, touching the bottom. My tongue was sticking out perpendicular to the teeth, it was obvious I was talking about the end of the tooth. I did this before she started working on it.

Seaofclouds's avatar

With all the description you gave, there really should have been no confusion. I understood where you were talking about just from that description.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seaofclouds the filing was to be done on the back of the tooth, so I bit down on that stuff that leaves a mark. She began to file, which at first was fine, following the heavily marked area. Then when she asked me how it feels, I said I think it is still too thick lower on the tooth, or however I said it exactly not sure, but I used lower. So, it could have been possible I meant slightly higher if that is how she thinks of a tooth, since it is the back of the tooth, just little bits, except that the repaired area is towards the bottom of the tooth, the majority of my real tooth is still in my head for God’s sake. So, basically she probably filed away some of my real tooth, which is what really bothers me. I don’t want my real tooth thinner, or to reduce the enamel.

JLeslie's avatar

The rest of the story is my regular dentist originally did the repair and my bite was way off. When I went back he said he can’t file more because he would be filing my real tooth. Now I think we also were miscommunicating. I think he should have thought to clarify too. I even had said, “how can that be my tooth, I can feel it is thicker.”

dappled_leaves's avatar

Without any context, I could see how this could result in miscommunication, but he was filing because your bite was off, and thought you meant closer to the gumline? That’s just silly.

I once had a dentist start filing my teeth because she thought they were too sharp, without even telling me she was going to do it. Boy, was she fired.

philosopher's avatar

Do you mean the bitting surface?

Sunny2's avatar

Next time, just point.

JLeslie's avatar

@philosopher The back of the tooth where the botton teeth hit the top teeth when you bite down.

deni's avatar

The bottom, farther from the gum.

philosopher's avatar

That is the bitting surface but as someone said, you should point.
I took a class in Dental so I can describe things in their Terminology. Usually I am successful in explaining things but some Dentist are more easy to deal with than others.

JLeslie's avatar

@philosopher I basically did I thought. Plus, she had been filing, and I just wanted her to file a little “lower” than she was. She knew where she was filing.

gondwanalon's avatar

It sounds like there were two problems with your tooth. The bite problem and different issue that your dentist worked on and hopefully corrected.

You were trying to indicate the “coronal” area of the tooth but your dentist thought that you meant the more “apical” (direction towards the root tips) problem.

Try to think positive and put some effort into learning from this.

Here is some home work for you to learn the different aspects of a tooth. Look up the definitions of the following:
Two weeks ago I had a tooth implant procedure done and I’m pretty sure that I heard the dentist mention all of the above.

Good dental health to you!

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