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A dental consonant is a consonant articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/ in some languages. Dentals are primarily distinguished from sounds in which contact is made with the tongue and the gum ridge, as in English (see Alveolar consonant), due to the acoustic similarity of the sounds and the fact that in the Roman alphabet they are generally written using the same symbols (t, d, n, and so on).
For many languages, such as Albanian, Irish or Russian, velarization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants so that velarized consonants (such as Albanian /ɫ/) tend to be dental or denti-alveolar, whereas non-velarized consonants tend to be retracted to an alveolar position.
Sanskrit, Hindi and all other Indic 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 in these languages, but is quite alveolar and apical in articulation. To the Indian speaker, the alveolar /t/ and /d/ of English sound more like the corresponding retroflex consonants of his own language than like the dentals.
Spanish /t/ and /d/ are laminal denti-alveolar, whereas /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. 
Although denti-alveolar consonants are often described as dental, it is the rear-most point of contact that is most relevant, for this is what defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and will give a consonant its characteristic sound. In the case of French, the rear-most contact is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar.
Dental consonants in the world's languages
Dental/denti-alveolar consonants as transcribed by the International Phonetic Alphabet include:
- Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.
- Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373
- Recasens, Daniel; Espinosa, Aina (2005), "Articulatory, positional and coarticulatory characteristics for clear /l/ and dark /l/: evidence from two Catalan dialects", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (1): 1–25, doi:10.1017/S0025100305001878
- Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628
- Real Academia Española; Association of Spanish Language Academies (2011), Nueva Gramática de la lengua española (English: New Grammar of the Spanish Language), 3 (Fonética y fonología), Espasa, ISBN 978-84-670-3321-2