IPA Number408
Entity (decimal)̪
Unicode (hex)U+032A

A dental consonant is a consonant articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as /θ/, /ð/. In some languages, dentals are distinguished from other groups, such as alveolar consonants, in which the tongue contacts the gum ridge. Dental consonants share acoustic similarity and in the Latin script are generally written with consistent symbols (e.g. t, d, n).

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the diacritic for dental consonant is U+032A ◌̪ COMBINING BRIDGE BELOW. When there is no room under the letter, it may be placed above, using the character U+0346 ◌͆ COMBINING BRIDGE ABOVE, such as in //.


For many languages, such as Albanian, Irish and Russian, velarization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants. Thus, velarized consonants, such as Albanian /ɫ/, tend to be dental or denti-alveolar, and non-velarized consonants tend to be retracted to an alveolar position.[1]

Sanskrit, Hindustani and all other Indo-Aryan languages have an entire set of dental stops that occur phonemically as voiced and voiceless and with or without aspiration. The nasal /n/ also exists but is quite alveolar and apical in articulation.[citation needed] To native speakers, the English alveolar /t/ and /d/ sound more like the corresponding retroflex consonants of their languages than like dentals.[citation needed]

Spanish /t/ and /d/ are denti-alveolar,[2] while /l/ and /n/ are prototypically alveolar but assimilate to the place of articulation of a following consonant. Likewise, Italian /t/, /d/, /t͡s/, /d͡z/ are denti-alveolar ([t̪], [d̪], [t̪͡s̪], and [d̪͡z̪] respectively) and /l/ and /n/ become denti-alveolar before a following dental consonant.[3][4]

Although denti-alveolar consonants are often described as dental, it is the point of contact farthest to the back that is most relevant, defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and gives a characteristic sound to a consonant.[5] In French, the contact that is farthest back is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar.


Dental/denti-alveolar consonants as transcribed by the International Phonetic Alphabet include:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
dental nasal Russian банк / bank [bak] 'bank'
voiceless dental plosive Finnish tutti [ut̪ːi] 'pacifier'
voiced dental plosive Arabic دين / din [iːn] 'religion'
voiceless dental sibilant fricative Polish kosa [kɔa] 'scythe'
voiced dental sibilant fricative Polish koza [kɔa] 'goat'
θ voiceless dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English thing [θɪŋ]
ð voiced dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English this [ðɪs]
ð̞ dental approximant Spanish codo [koð̞o] 'elbow'
dental lateral approximant Spanish alto [at̪o] 'tall'
t̪ʼ dental ejective Dahalo [t̪ʼat̪t̪a] 'hair'
ɗ̪ voiced dental implosive Sindhi ڏسڻي [ɗ̪əsɪɳiː] 'forefinger'
k͡ǀ q͡ǀ
ɡ͡ǀ ɢ͡ǀ
ŋ͡ǀ ɴ͡ǀ
dental clicks (many different consonants) Xhosa ukúcola [ukʼúkǀola] 'to grind fine'

See also