What’s a Buccal? Pronounced Buckle

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Part of a dental examination involves documenting the fillings already present in your mouth, in addition to any cavities that need to be filled. We do a complete charting of your mouth when we do a dental check-up…Let’s call it your ‘mouth finger print.’

When we check all around your mouth, we document the ‘state’ of your teeth and underlying gums. Many of the words that you will hear us say as we do the exam will seem very foreign to you; it’s like a different language.

One of the words you may hear is buccal.  “This tooth needs a buccal,” means that a certain surface of the tooth needs it’s buccal surface filled.

The word buccal means something though: it’s the surface of the tooth that is opposite the cheek.

Let me explain…

Each tooth has five surfaces. These are: (It may help to picture a cube.)
1) Occlusal – the top surface or chewing surface of the tooth.
2) Mesial – this is a side surface of the tooth; the side that is closer to the front of the mouth.
3) Distal – this is also a side surface of the tooth, the side that is closer to the back of the mouth.
4) Lingual – the inner surface of the tooth that faces the tongue.
and last but not least –Buccal.:
(5) Buccal – the outer surface of the tooth that faces the cheek.

The image above shows a person’s cheek being pulled back with a dental mouth mirror.

Aside from illustrating braces on the lower teeth, it also shows the surface of the teeth facing the cheek, also known as the Buccal surface.

The reason that I bring this matter up is that it never fails.  Every time I finish examining and charting the details of a patient’s mouth, they ask “What’s a buccal?”  Hence, the blog.

Oh, and please don’t forget, when ever you’re in a motor vehicle, don’t forget to ‘buccal’ up!

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