Abscess- a localized collection of pus. In the case of an abscessed tooth, this pocket of pus occurs around the tissues of the tooth. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection.
Abutment- the tooth or teeth on either side of a dental bridge that are used to support the bridge
Air Abrasion – a method of removing tooth decay without a drill by using compressed air and fine sand particles. By reducing heat and vibration, this method may reduce the need for anesthesia.
Alveolar process – the thickened ridge of bone that contains the tooth sockets in bones that hold teeth. It is also referred to as the alveolar bone.
Amalgam - a combination of metals, usually including mercury and one or more other metals. Used to fill cavities in teeth. Commonly referred to as silver fillings, this method of filling teeth has been used since the 1800s. It is becoming less popular due to health concerns and the more natural appearance of composite fillings.
Anterior – term referring to the front area of the mouth
Apex- the tip of the tooth root
Apicoectomy – the surgical removal of the apex (tip) of the tooth root after which the open end of the root is sealed with filling.
Bell’s palsy – paralysis of cranial nerve VII (the facial nerve) resulting in the permanent or temporary immobilization of the muscles on either side of the face.
Bicuspids – also known as premolars, are the two teeth located between the canine teeth and molars. They have characteristics of both the canine teeth and the molars and are considered “transitional teeth” because they are used to transfer food from the canines to the molars during chewing.
Dental Bridge – A bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, is a dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth or teeth by joining permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants.
Bruxism- the habit of grinding the teeth. Can occur during waking hours or during sleep and can result in loose or worn teeth, gum recession, destruction of the supportive bone and TMJ disorders.
Calculus - a form of hardened dental plaque which builds up around the teeth. Also known as tarter.
Canine teeth – also called cuspids or eye-teeth, canines are the teeth next to the lateral incisors. They are identified by a pointed cusp used for tearing food.
Canker sores – a type of oral ulcer that presents as an open sore inside the mouth or on the upper throat
Composite resin – a tooth-colored mixture of plastic resin and finely ground glass . Used in dentistry for restorations or as an adhesive.
Cosmetic Bonding – a cosmetic procedure in which tooth colored material is used to repair minor imperfections such as stains, chips and gaps.
Crown – visible part of tooth covered by enamel. Crown – artificial – (cap) restoration made of metal or porcelain covering damaged tooth.
Cusp- a pointed projection located on the chewing of biting surface of tooth.
Cuspids- see Canine teeth
Deciduous teeth – (baby teeth) teeth that will naturally be lost and then replaced with permanent teeth.
Dentin – the main part of tooth inside the enamel and surrounding the pulp and root canals
Denture – a partial or full set of artificial, removable teeth
Enamel – the hard white substance covering the tooth
Endodontics – an area of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases of the dental pulp and the tissues at the root apex
Extrusion - the movement of a tooth in the direction of eruption. Can me natural as in the case of normal growth and development of can be mechanical as in the case of orthodontic treatment
Gingivatis – inflammation of the gums characterized by redness and swelling. Usually the result of poor oral hygiene, gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease.
Halitosis – bad breath
Impacted tooth – a condition in which a tooth is unable to erupt normally because of its position against the gum or bone
Implant – a surgically placed replacement for a root tooth. A crown is then placed on top of the implant creating a complete replacement for a lost tooth.
Incisors – the teeth located in the front of the mouth which are used for cutting and gnawing. Humans have 8 incisors, 4 upper and 4 lower.
Malocclusion – (bad bite) abnormal contact between the upper and lower teeth
Mandible – the lower jawbone
Maxilla - the upper jawbone
Maxillofacial – relating to the lower half of the face
Molars – back teeth used for grinding food. The furthest (third) molars are also known as wisdom teeth.
Nitrous Oxide – (laughing gas) a gas used as an anesthetic in dentistry and other medical procedures.
Orthodontics – branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of misaligned teeth.
Overbite - a malocclusion in which the upper teeth protrude forward over the lower teeth when the jaw is closed
Papillae – small projections on the surface of the tongue
Partial – removable appliance which replaces one or more (but not all) of the teeth
Periodontal – relating to the gums and bone structure that surrounds and supports teeth
Plaque – a sticky coating consisting of saliva, bacteria, food and acid, which builds up on the teeth.
Pontic – the part of a fixed dental bridge that replaces the natural tooth
Post - a metal or carbon fiber support used to reinforce a tooth that has had a root canal therapy.
Posterior – term referring to the back part of the mouth
Premolars – see bicuspids
Prosthetic – referring to an artificial replacement for a part of the human body
Prosthodontics - branch of dentistry that deals with replacement of damaged or missing teeth
Pulp – soft, spongy tissue in the center of the tooth containing blood vessels and nerves
Pulpectomy – the complete removal of the tooth’s pulp
Pulpotomy – partial removal of the tooth’s pulp
Root canal – space in the root of the tooth that contains the pulp tissue
Root canal therapy – a procedure in which root canal is cleaned, shaped and filled with an inert material
Tartar – a hardened substance that is the result of long-standing plaque buildup on the teeth.
TMJ – (Temporo-mandibular Joint) the jaw joint. TMJ is often used to refer to a condition in which the jaw joint becomes inflamed or damaged. Can result in popping or clicking in the jaw. The condition may also be painful.
Disclaimer The information provided in this glossary is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended, nor should it be used to replace the services of a qualified practitioner.