DENTAL GLOSSARY A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The chewing surfaces of back teeth.
The science of interpreting and adjusting the bite for harmony of function and relaxed musculature. May need to be periodically redone or touched up to account for tooth wear and drifting.
Any contact between the biting and chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.
A porcelain, resin, or gold filling that protects a tooth by replacing all or part of the chewing surface and one or more sides of a tooth.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
Orthopedic facial surgeon who is responsible for treating a wide variety of dental problems including the removal of impacted teeth (orthognathic surgery), abnormal growths, and reconstructive facial surgery.
The process of cleaning and maintaining the teeth and related structures.
Dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases.
Surgery inside the mouth.
The part of the throat at the back of the mouth.
The dental specialty that focuses on the development, prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite, and jaws.
A dentist who has been specially trained in orthodontics.
Vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower teeth.
A removable denture that fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth and/or implants. The natural teeth must have sufficient bone to provide stability and support for the denture.
Horizontal projection of upper teeth beyond the lower teeth.
Hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth.
Non-invasive relief of irritating conditions.
Allows doctors to see a broad view of the entire structure of the mouth, including the jaw, in a single image. Within one large film, panoramic X-rays reveal all of the upper and lower teeth and parts of the jaw, and provide information used for extracting wisdom teeth, and can reveal abnormal growths or cysts in the jaw bone.
See Panoramic X-ray.
A partial loss of sensation that may be temporary or permanent.
Partial denture (bridge)
A removable appliance that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.
The region at the end of the roots of teeth.
X-rays that show the entire tooth, including the root and surrounding bone. These are useful in diagnosing an abscess, impacted teeth or bone loss from periodontal disease.
The area of dentistry that specializes in the treatment of children.
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of children's teeth.
The space that forms when the gums pull away from the tooth. If the pocket is deeper than 3mm, it is difficult for an individual to effectively clean the area.
Periodontal disease (gum disease)
Inflammation of the bone and attached gum tissue. Clinically appears as loose teeth and/or bleeding gums. Can be treated non-surgically as well as surgically depending on the severity.
The periodic cleaning of the teeth, which usually follows periodontal treatment. Also known as a perio prophy or perio recall.
Specialist in treating gum and bone diseases.
When the gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are infected. If left untreated, the teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
The adult first, second and third molars that usually appear in six year increments starting at age 6.
The adult teeth.
A film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums after eating foods that produce acids. If plaque is not removed, it hardens to form calculus or tarter, which can only be removed professionally.
Replacement tooth mounted on a fixed or removal appliance.
A ceramic glass that fuses at high temperatures. This is used in crowns, bridges and veneers to mimic enamel.
Porcelain fused to metal (PFM)
Restoration with metal substructure that is covered with porcelain.
Porcelain inlay or onlay
A tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain, which is cemented or bonded in place.
Ultra-thin, custom-made facings that are bonded to teeth to enhance and restore function and/or appearance. Veneers can be used to treat chipped, worn, crooked, and/or discolored teeth.
Post and core
Post and buildup to replace lost tooth structure for the purpose of retaining a crown.
Prescription medicine taken before a dental appointment either to prevent infection in susceptible patients or to provide comfort for anxious patients.
The baby teeth, which are also known as the deciduous teeth.
The anticipated outcome of treatment.
The process of cleaning teeth, which is also known as a prophy.
An artificial appliance for the replacement for a body part.
A fixed or removable appliance to replace missing teeth. Fixed bridges, removable partials, and dentures are all examples.
The branch of dentistry concerned with the construction of artificial appliances designed to restore and maintain oral function by replacing missing teeth and sometimes other oral structures or parts of the face. Prosthodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Dental specialist skilled in restoring or replacing teeth with fixed or removable prosthesis, maintaining proper occlusion; treats facial deformities with artificial prostheses such as eyes, ears, and noses.
Refers to the surfaces of teeth that touch the next tooth; the space between adjacent teeth is the interproximal space.
The inside part of the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. This is removed during a root canal procedure.
Covering an exposed or nearly exposed nerve with a sedative material prior to restoring the tooth.
Complete removal of the pulp, which is commonly done in diseased children's teeth.
Partial removal of the pulp tissue, which is commonly done in diseased children's teeth.
Inflammation of the pulp.
One of the four equal sections into which the dental arches can be divided; begins at the midline of the arch and extends backwards to the last tooth.
Another name for an x-ray.
A condition whereby the gums pull away from the tooth, which makes the tooth look longer since more of the tooth is exposed. This can be caused by buildup of plaque and/or poor brushing habits.
A thin metal or glass fiber-reinforced bridge which usually requires slight modification of the adjacent teeth.
See composite filling.
Replacement of a portion of a damaged tooth.
Procedures performed to restore the missing part of the teeth. Some insurance companies only consider fillings to be restorative; others consider fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures to be restorative.
Partial root structure remaining in jaw after extraction or fracture of a natural tooth.
Typically a removable appliance designed to hold teeth in a fixed position.
Acrylic restoration of denture base to compensate for bone loss. Depending upon the case, relines can either be done in the office or in coordination with a dental laboratory.
Tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw.
The common term for root canal therapy, which is also the interior space of the tooth root.
Root canal therapy
The nerve of the tooth is removed from the canal inside the root and replaced with a sterilized filling material.
Deep cleaning of the teeth to remove calculus (tartar) below the gumline. This is a periodontal procedure and is usually performed one quadrant at a time.
The removal of a portion of diseased root structure whose purpose is to retain the remaining natural tooth structure.
A thin rubber barrier applied to teeth to isolate them to control moisture during dental procedures.
Clear lubricating fluid in the mouth containing water, enzymes, bacteria, mucus, viruses, blood cells, and undigested food particles.
Located under tongue and in the cheeks whose purpose is to produce saliva.
Scraping of the teeth above the gums.
A special material applied to the tooth surface that acts as a barrier to prevent bacteria and food from leading to decay on the surface of teeth.
A procedure to add bone in the sinus area to allow the placement of dental implants.
Air filled cavities in our skulls above our upper teeth, between the eyes, and between the eyebrows. Sinus infections are a common source of facial pain and headaches that can be confused with dental pain from upper back teeth.
Inflammation in the sinus cavities, of which there are four in human skull. The largest of the sinuses is the maxillary sinus, located just above the roots of the upper molars. A pressure causing infection in this area can be mistaken for tooth pain.
An autoimmune disease characterized by dryness of the mouth, eyes, and other mucous membranes. The lack of saliva allows cavities to become a serious problem.
The periodic interruption or delay in breathing during sleep.
The muscular, movable part of the roof of the mouth.
An appliance used to maintain a space in the mouth. A space maintainer is typically used due to the premature loss one of a baby tooth to retain the space of the tooth that was lost until a permanent tooth erupts.
Connection of two or more teeth so they function as a stronger single structure.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Silver colored crowns often used to restore heavily damaged baby molars and, occasionally, adult molars when a more long term crown is not an economic option.
A process where instruments are treated to remove all possible germs.
Exact models of teeth made from plaster that are used for determining treatment options.
Some people are born with extra teeth, which are called "supernumerary teeth."
Another name for calculus, which is the sticky film on teeth (plaque) that has hardened.
Insurance company, union, or government agency that pays all or a part of cost of dental treatment.
A large muscle on the floor of the mouth that manipulates food for chewing and swallowing; the main organ of taste; assists in forming speech sounds.
Locally applied medication that produces mild anesthesia when applied to tissue surface.
Gum disease characterized by severe mouth sores and loss of tissue. See ANUG.
The juncture where the roots of teeth split into three roots.
An abbreviation for the "temporomandibular joint," which is the joint where the lower jaw connects to the skull.
More than one torus.
A common bony protuberance on the palate or lower jaw.
Usual, customary and reasonable.
When the lower teeth are forward of the upper teeth. This could be due to either an underdeveloped upper jaw or an overdeveloped lower jaw.
A tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct position in the dental arch.
Affecting only one side.
The small, cone-shaped fleshy tissue suspended in the mouth from the middle of the back edge of the soft palate.
Veneers (porcelain or composite)
Ultra-thin, custom-made facings bonded to teeth to enhance and restore function and/or appearance. Veneers can be used to treat chipped, worn, crooked, and/or discolored teeth.
Arbitrary space between upper and lower jaws upon closure; may decrease over time due to wear, shifting or damage to the teeth.
A procedure to lighten a tooth that has darkened. The darkening can occur as a result of trauma and/or root canal treatment. A medicine is placed inside the tooth via the opening made for the root canal.
A wax form that is made to resemble a tooth or a partial denture that is then cast in metal.
The process of lightening discolored or stained teeth. Treatment can be in-office or at-home.
These are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth and they usually appears around age 18, which is how they got their name. Wisdom teeth are often impacted (obstructed from erupting), and are usually extracted.
Dry mouth caused by medication, radiation, or malfunctioning salivary glands.
A diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of teeth, tissues, and bone onto film.
A high intensity light system that is used to lighten teeth at a dental office.
A quadrangular bone on either side of face that forms the cheek prominence (see malar).