Are you hearing terminology in the dentist’s office that you don’t understand? Are you finding words on your dental records that you need to lookup? If so, you’re in the right place! We’ve put together a comprehensive dental glossary for dental patients. Now, when you hear something you don’t quite understand, you can easily look it up in our dental glossary.
Here is a comprehensive list of dental terminology and definitions you may hear or read as you learn more about oral health.
Abrasion: An abrasion is an injury that results from scraping or wearing away at the tissue in the mouth.
Abutment: A tooth (or implant) that supports a dental prosthesis.
Acid Etching: is the process of using an acidic chemical substance to strip enamel or dentin off of the tooth to prepare the surface for bonding.
Alveolar Bone: Commonly known as the tooth socket, the alveolar bone is the main support for teeth, anchoring them to both the upper and lower jaws by a tissue called cementum.
Anesthesia–General Anesthesia: A controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of protective reflexes, including loss of ability to independently maintain the airway and respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command, produced by a pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic method or combination thereof.
Local Anesthesia: The loss of pain sensation over a specific area of the anatomy without loss of consciousness.
Apicoectomy: Surgical removal of the tip of the root.
Bicuspid: A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.
Bilateral: Occurring on, or pertaining to, both right and left sides.
Biopsy: In dentistry, a biopsy consists of removing an area of soft tissue inside the mouth in order to help diagnose a lesion that has no obvious cause.
Bleaching: A cosmetic dental procedure that whitens the teeth using a bleaching solution.
Bridge: A dental bridge refers to the process of creating a bridge over a gap in the teeth, usually from one or more missing teeth.
Calculus: Hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth.
Canal: The space and area between the tooth’s root in a person’s mouth that is usually involved with some dental procedures such as a root canal and other surgeries involving the mouth.
Caries: Commonly used term for tooth decay.
Cavity: A cavity is a decayed section of a tooth. Cavities can typically be filled, however, can require more invasive procedures such as root canals depending upon the severity.
Cementum: Hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.
Clinical Crown: A reproduction of a part of the top of a person’s tooth that is used to cover a missing area of the said tooth to prevent further deterioration of the area due to constant use and aging.
Complete Denture: A reproduction of a person’s teeth meant to replace said individual’s missing teeth so that the individual can eat normally with no problems. This is also done for cosmetic reasons.
Cosmetic Dentistry: The term cosmetic dentistry can be defined in the same way cosmetic surgery is defined. The person has elected to alter the appearance of a part of his/her body to resemble the ideal look that is accepted in society today. In this case, it is altering the teeth by straightening and cleaning.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome: Cracked tooth syndrome involves a tooth that has incompletely cracked but no part of the tooth has been broken off. The symptoms are different from each other, it is totally depending upon the diagnosed condition.
Crown: A dental crown is a device used to cap a tooth. It covers the tooth to improve its appearance, strength, and usability. A crown is cemented on and can be considered semi-permanent.
Cusp: The pointed portion of the tooth.
Decay: is defined as the process of a dead, rotted area on a tooth. The layman term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.
Dental Implant: A dental implant is a piece of material that is inserted into the existing bone to support an artificial tooth.
Dental Prophylaxis: Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus, and stains.
Dental Prosthesis: An artificial replacement of one or more missing teeth.
Dentin: The part of the tooth that is beneath the enamel and cementum.
Denture: An artificial substitute for natural teeth and adjacent tissues.
Denture Base: The part of the denture that holds the artificial teeth and fits over the gums.
Direct Restoration: Direct teeth restoration means restoring the missing tooth structure with the help of restorative material by a dentist. A restoration fabricated inside the mouth.
Dry Mouth: The condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. If it goes untreated, severe dry mouth can lead to increased levels of tooth decay and infections of the mouth.
Enamel: Hard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of a tooth.
Erosion: Wearing down of tooth structure, caused by chemicals (acids).
Excision: Surgical removal of bone or tissue.
Extraction: The process or act of removing a tooth or tooth parts.
Amalgam: Silver filling.
Fixed Appliances: Orthodontic devices, commonly known as braces, that are bonded to the teeth to produce different tooth movements to help reposition teeth for orthodontic therapy.
Fixed Partial Denture: A fixed partial denture or bridge is an artificial tooth that replaces a missing one. It is either bonded to the adjacent, intact teeth, by dental cement, or by placing crowns on the adjacent teeth.
Fracture: The breaking of a part, especially of a bony structure; breaking of a tooth.
Full-Mouth X-Rays: A combination of 14 or more periapical and 4 bitewing films of the back teeth. This series of x-rays reveals all the teeth (their crowns and roots) and the alveolar bone around them.
Gingiva: Soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.
Gingivitis: is a common type of gum disease. It can result in gums becoming red, swollen, and irritated. It is caused by a lack of proper dental care. It can lead to more serious gum issues and sometimes even loss of teeth.
Graft: A piece of tissue or alloplastic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency.
Immediate Denture: Prosthesis constructed for placement immediately after the removal of remaining natural teeth.
Impacted Tooth: An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue, so that complete eruption is unlikely.
Implant: An implant is a term used medically to describe a non-human object put inside a person’s body to alter their appearance while looking like a natural body part.
Interproximal: Between the teeth.
Intraoral: Inside the mouth.
Jaw: Skeletal structure making up the upper and lower frame of the mouth and containing the teeth. A common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.
Lesion: An injury or wound; area of diseased tissue.
Malignant: Having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and metastasis.
Malocclusion: Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.
Maxilla: The upper jaw.
Minimal Sedation: A conscious sedation to keep you relaxed and calm during any necessary procedure so you can follow any necessary direction during that time. The medication can be given as a pill, an inhaled form, or through a shot.
Molar: Teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns, and broad chewing surfaces.
Occlusal: Pertaining to the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth or contacting surfaces of opposing teeth or opposing occlusion rims.
Oral: Anything that has to do with the mouth is considered oral. To take something orally would be to ingest it and any form of oral surgery is done to the mouth or teeth.
Overdenture: A removable prosthetic device that overlies and may be supported by retained teeth or implants.
Palate: The hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities.
Partial Denture: Usually refers to a prosthetic device that replaces missing teeth.
Periodontal: Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.
Periodontal Abscess: An infection in the gum pocket that can destroy hard and soft tissues.
Periodontal Disease: Inflammatory process of the gingival tissues and/or periodontal membrane of the teeth, resulting in an abnormally deep gingival sulcus, possibly producing periodontal pockets and loss of supporting alveolar bone.
Periodontitis: Inflammation and loss of the connective tissue of the supporting or surrounding structure of teeth with loss of attachment.
Plaque: Plaque is a nasty build up on teeth that are created by bacteria attaching itself to your tooth. A soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives.
Prophylaxis: Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus, and stains.
Preventive Dentistry is dental work that is performed in order to keep the teeth and gums healthy for both the present and foreseeable future. This would include routine cleanings, fluoride treatments, and other work meant to keep the mouth healthy and stop future problems from occurring.
Pulp: Connective tissue containing blood vessels and nerve tissue that occupies the pulp cavity of a tooth.
Radiograph: An image produced by projecting radiation, like X-rays, on photographic film. Commonly called an X-ray.
Reline: To resurface the side of the denture that is in contact with the soft tissues of the mouth to make it fit more securely.
Removable Partial Denture: An object for a partially toothless patient who desires to have the replacement of the teeth for functional or aesthetic reasons and who cannot have a bridge.
Root: The anatomic portion of the tooth that is covered by cementum and is located in the alveolus (socket) where it is attached by the periodontal apparatus; radicular portion of a tooth.
Root Canal: The portion of the pulp cavity inside the root of a tooth; the chamber within the root of the tooth that contains the pulp.
Scaling: Scaling refers to the process by which a dentist performs a deep cleaning on the teeth, even extending to underneath the outermost edges of the gum itself. A local anesthetic is used during the procedure. It’s also the removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth.
Submandibular Glands: Walnut-sized major salivary glands located beneath the tongue.
Suture: Stitch used to repair incision or wound.
Temporary Removable Denture: Temporary removal dentures are devices that dentists will use to replace missing teeth. They are not meant to be a permanent solution but are often used in patients who cannot afford a higher cost option, or while the patient waits for a permanent fixture to be created.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ): The connecting hinge mechanism between the base of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jaw (mandible).
Unerupted: Tooth/teeth that have not penetrated into the oral cavity.
Veneer: A veneer, in dentistry, is a thin material that is applied to the outside of the tooth. A veneer could be applied for aesthetic purposes or it could be placed on a tooth that needs additional protection.
X-ray: refers to a digital image of the internal composition of a part of the body. The image is produced by x-rays being passed through the object and being absorbed to different degrees by materials.