And this is how first year dental students study tooth anatomy. My classmates and I have been getting in groups and practicing IDing the plastic teeth AND real teeth (yes, we get a small container of these). I’ve been taking out all the teeth in the typodont and practicing by guessing the number based on the characteristics I see and then making sure I’m right by placing them back into the typodont. When I first started this, I thought it would be impossible to identify every single tooth without it’s relative position in the mouth but gradually we started to get the hang of it. You start noticing small things that are generally consistent. They teach characteristics specific to each tooth to help with ID, but in real teeth, there is so much variation. A lot of the stuff you have to figure out on your own. Aspects, such as size, is not always a reliable method to ID teeth because the tooth may be considered “small” in a mouth with overall relatively “small” teeth. Details such as the oblique ridge on the occlusal surface of the maxillary first and second molars, the number of roots, or the ridge present on maxillary canines that distinguishes them from mandibular canines are the kinds of things you have to remember to ID these teeth.
The tooth ID exam went well despite there even being broken teeth on our exam! Our professor wanted to make sure that we could see a broken tooth, use the various characteristics and still ID them.