The Dental Chart

Charting steps (using Dentalabels)

  1. Charting begins with general evaluation of the gingiva for presence of calculus on the buccal and labial areas of the teeth. Grading is 1=slight, 2=moderate, 3=heavy calculus

  2. Next, examine the mouth for missing teeth. A circle is placed on the chart around missing teeth

  3. Enamel/ dentin+enamel/ pulpal fractures are observed and noted

  4. A periodontal probe with millimeter gradations is inserted at the interface between the free gingiva and tooth surface. The probe is gently pressed down to the bottom of the sulcus, “walked” around the tooth and measurements are noted at the four corners of each tooth. The attachment loss probe depths from the cemento- enamel junction (if gingival recession exists) or from the free gingival margin, are noted on the chart.

  5. Other lesions are observed and noted

Dental chart examples

A dental chart must be “user friendly.” When choosing one to be used in your dental practice, look for ease of noting general oral problems (halitosis, rubbing of the face, drooling, bleeding, problems with opening or closing the mouth), as well as oral pathology including ailments listed above, and below the gumline.

There are several dental charts commercially available. An example produced by the Dentalabel Company:

Charting shorthand-letters are placed over a tooth to indicate type of pathology noted. Some examples:

A-adontia-absence of a tooth or multiple teeth-also called hypodontia or oligodontia
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AB-abrasion-a pathologic wearing away of dental tooth surface by friction of a foreign material. Examples: tennis balls (dirt gets trapped in the fiber, the dog chews or spins the ball in its mouth, and wears down the tooth surface), haircoat, metal furniture.

ACB-anterior cross bite- malocclusion where the one or more of the maxillary incisors lie distal to maxillary incisors. Anterior cross bite only affects the incisor teeth.
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AK-ankylosis-fusion of cementum with alveolar bone.

ARF-apical repositioned flap-surgical procedure used to replace gingiva apically to eliminate periodontal pocket.

AT-attrition-a pathological wearing away of the tooth caused by an opposing tooth

AV-avulsion-the separation of a tooth from its alveolus.
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BNC-base narrow canine-mandibular canines penetrating maxilla

CA-carious lesion- crater-like lesion also called a cavity. Occurs mainly in the molar pits of large dogs.
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C/sl-calculus slight

C/mod-calculus moderate

C/H-calculus heavy
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D-Dehisence-absence of bone support around root
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E-enamel defect

EH-enamel hypoplasia-a condition where is enamel is thin or absent Appears as areas of shinny enamel surrounded by opaque areas of dentin. In time, the opaque regions become stained a brownish color. In dogs, enamel hypoplasia is usually caused by a febrile disease, occurring before the animal is six months old as the enamel is forming.
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EP-epulis-a periodontal growth-classified as either fibromatous, ossifying, or acanthomatous

ER-external resorption

F-furcation exposure


F1-Class 1 (incipient) furcation exposure exists when the tip of a probe can just 1-mm) enter the furcation area. Bone fills most of the area where the roots meet.

F2- Class II (definite) furcation exposure exists when the probe tip extends more than one millimeter horizontally into the area where the roots converge
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F3- Class III (through and through) - alveolar bone has eroded to a point that the explorer probe passes through the defect unobstructed

Fen-fenestration-a round or oval defect or opening in the alveolar cortical plate of bone over the root surface.
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FGG-free gingival graft -transplanting attached gingiva from one area of the mouth to another.

FU-fusion-union of two teeth buds. The root canals may be separate or joined. Clinically there is one less tooth in the arch. Radiographically there will be two roots with one crown.

FWS-freeway space-the space between the maxillary and mandibular premolar opposing teeth cusp tips when the mouth is closed.

FX-fractured tooth

GE-gemination is the division of a single tooth at the time of development resulting in incomplete formation of two teeth. On radiographs, there will be one root with a split crown. Clinically there will be an extra tooth in the arch.
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Gr-gingival recession-areas where the gingival margin exists apical to the cemento enamel junction (CEJ)

H-gingival hyperplasia-proliferation of attached gingiva coronal to the cemento enamel junction (CEJ).
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I-impacted tooth-a tooth that cannot erupt or complete its eruption due to its contact with an obstruction.

LB-level bite-where the maxillary and mandibular incisors meet at the incisal edges.

M-mobile tooth- an important diagnostic sign that results from a decrease in root attachment or changes in the periodontal ligament. Mobility is noted as M1, M2, M3 based on severity.
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N-neck lesion (feline oral resorptive lesion)
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  • Class one –enamel loss only
  • Class two-enamel and dentin exposure
  • Class three-pulpal exposure
  • Class four-partial crown loss
  • Class five-full crown loss

NE-near exposure-fractured tooth with near pulpal exposure


O-missing tooth
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Adult dogs normally have 42 teeth, cats 30. Missing teeth occur from various reasons:

  • Congenital absence
  • Impaction of an unerupted tooth
  • Previous trauma causing exfoliation or fracture
  • Previous dental care

To evaluate the cause of missing teeth, radiography will show if there is an impacted tooth, retained, or fractured root, or no root.

OB-open bite-an area of open space when the jaw is closed, which normally should be occupied by occluding teeth.
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OD-odontoplasty-area of reshaped tooth by dental bur.

OM-oral mass
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ONF-oronasal fistula-an abnormal communication between the mouth and nasal cavity.
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PCB-posterior cross bite-a malocclusion where one or more of the mandibular premolar teeth occlude bucally with the maxillary teeth.

PE-pulpal exposure-opening of the pulp organ made of blood vessels, nerves, and cellular elements to the outside environment usually caused by trauma
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PP-periodontal pocket


PU-pulpitis-inflammation of the pulp results in discoloration of the tooth.
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R-rotated tooth usually secondary to tooth crowding-most commonly affected teeth are the maxillary second and third premolars
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RD-retained deciduous teeth are primary teeth that have not been shed when secondary (permanent) teeth erupt.


RR-retained root-areas where crown is no longer apparent but root(s) remain.

RCT-root canal therapy
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R/M-restoration-metallic crown
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R/I-restoration/glass ionomer

RPC-root planing closed

RPO-root planing open

S-supernumerary tooth-extra adult tooth in the arch. Most commonly located in the incisor and premolar areas. Supernumery teeth may cause overcrowding causing periodontal disease or traumatic occlusion.
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3D-repairative or sclerotic dentin-shiny, transparent, dentin formed as a defense mechanism to chronic irritation.

SE-supereruption-condition where a tooth has the cementoenamel junction erupted more coronal than normal. Most common in the canines of older cats.
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V-vital pulpotomy-surgical amputation of the dental pulp coronal to the cementoenamel junction, and restoration of the reduced crown.
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W-worn tooth-usually secondary to abrasion from grinding or wearing away of tooth substance by mastication.

WF-wear facet-a flattened highly polished area on the tooth's surface from chronic wear.
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WB-wry bite or wry mouth-a skeletal defect where the midline of the maxilla does not line up with the midline of the mandible.

X-extracted tooth


Only a thorough and exacting examination of the teeth, periodontium, soft tissue, and occlusion provides adequate information to base a diagnosis. After abnormalities of the structures are radiographed, diagnosed, and recorded, the treatment planning process begins. A treatment plan and subsequent therapy are only as effective as the quality of information obtained during the examination.

Dental Chart

Table of Contents
Dental Encyclopedia
Jan Bellows, DVM, AVDC, ABVP

Also, check out
The Smile Book III
A text on Canine Periodontal Disease – Diagnosis and Therapy
1. Introduction
2. Dental Anatomy
3. Endodontics
4. Orthodontics
5. Periodontics
6. Crown Preparation
7. Feline Dentistry
8. Dental Pediatrics
9. Exotic Dentistry
10. Jaw Fractures
11. Radiology
12. Instruments
13. Materials
14. Equipment
15. Professional Teeth Cleaning
16. Developmental Abnormalities
17. Oral Surgery
18. The Dental Chart
19. Dental Terminology
20. Case Study (endo-perio)
21. Case Study (Avulsed tooth)
22. Case Study (Fractured Premolar)
23. Case Study (Interesting Kitty Case)
24. Case Study (Reason to Radiograph)
25. Case Study (Crown reduction)
26. Case Study (Ouch)
27. Case Study (Cystic Mass)
28. Case Study (Oral Nasal Fistula)
29. Case Study (TM Ankylosis)


Copyright 1997- All Pets Dental Clinic
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Jan Bellows, DVM
All Pets Dental Clinic
17100 Royal Palm Blvd.
Weston, FL 33326
(954) 349-5800