Dental Dictionary

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

A

Abrasion
An injury that results from scraping or wearing away at the tissue in the mouth. This could be caused by injury to the mouth or the use of improperly fitted dental appliances.

Abscess
A sack of pus that typically forms because of infection.

Abutment
A tooth or implant component responsible for the anchorage of a bridge or a fixed denture or implant denture.

Allograft
Allografts involve taking tissue from a donor site and placing it in a recipient site during a medical procedure. A dentist may transfer fragments of bone from one person to another if the process applies to a patient’s condition.

Alloplastic
Alloplastic refers to a material that is human-made, such as metal or ceramic or plastic. These materials are used medically for making implants or prosthetics.

Allowable charge
The maximum amount that an insurance company will consider to pay for a service, including any amount that the patient is responsible for paying. Allowable charges are also referred to as the Approved charge, Allowed amount, Maximum allowable, or Reasonable Charge.

Alloy
A combination of two or more metals or a metal and a nonmetal substance.

Alveoloplasty
Also known as “bone trimming,” alveoplasty is a surgical procedure that smooths out sharp areas of the jawbone, which commonly occur after multiple teeth are extracted.

Amalgam
A dental material that is used to make silver tooth fillings. Typically contains tin, copper, silver, and mercury. We do not use Amalgam at Hillsboro Dental Excellence.

Anesthetic
A chemical agent that causes temporary loss of sensation/feeling.

Ankylosis
A dental abnormality where the tooth becomes fused directly to the jawbone, preventing the tooth from erupting. The cause of ankylosis is unknown and can occur in both baby teeth and permanent teeth.

Anterior
A word that describes being positioned toward the front.

Apex
The tip of a tooth root.

Attrition
The wearing of tooth structure because of contact with other teeth.

Avulsion
An injury that causes a tooth to be removed entirely from the socket.

B

Bicuspid
Bicuspids are also known as “premolars” and are a type of tooth characterized by having two cusps. There are usually eight total, two in each quadrant, and they are positioned between the canines and molars.

Bleaching
A dental procedure associated with whitening teeth.

Bonding
A procedure performed by a dentist where composite resin is shaped and formed to a tooth that may have a chip, crack, hole, and even gaps that needs part of the tooth rebuilt. It adheres permanently to a tooth by chemical bonding.

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.

Bitewing
A kind of dental x-ray taken with the teeth biting together and is used to detect cavities in-between teeth and check the health of the teeth’ boney support.

Bleaching
The process of Whitening teeth.

Bridge
A permanently placed prosthesis that is used to replace missing teeth. It can be placed on natural teeth or dental implants.

Bruxism
The grinding of teeth is typically associated with sleep apnea and/or airway problems.

C

Canine
The third tooth from the middle of the jaw. They are the longest teeth in the human mouth. They are also known as the “vampire teeth.”

Canker sore
Ulceration of the mouth that is typically caused by trauma, herpes simplex virus, or allergic reactions.

Caries
A damaged part of a tooth where the tooth structure is weakened and is also known as “tooth decay.”

Cavity
A hole in the side of a tooth caused by tooth decay.

Chlorhexidine
An anti-microbial gel or rinses. It is an effective agent in controlling gum diseases.

Clasp
A metal arm extended on removable partial dentures that help to hold the denture onto natural tooth structure, providing anchorage for the denture.

Cold sore
Ulceration or lesion that forms on the lip because of a previous herpes simplex virus infection.

Composite
The dental material is used for “tooth-colored fillings” or “White fillings.” It is made of resin that is filled with glass particles that bond directly to the tooth.

Conscious sedation
Conscious sedation is a controlled state of sedation during which the subject is kept from losing consciousness so that the airway, protective reflexes, and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands are preserved.

Core buildup
A filing that is done to make enough tooth structure for a crown to be placed on a tooth when there is not enough tooth to hold a dental crown.

Crossbite
An abnormal bite is created by a small and underdeveloped maxilla (top jaw). Cross-bites are typically associated with sleep apnea and airway problems because the lower teeth/tooth align toward the check/ lip side more than the upper teeth/tooth, which puts pressure on the tongue and does not give it anywhere to go except into the back of the throat, cutting off the air supply.

Crown (porcelain/plastic/metal)
A crown (tooth cap) covers the tooth partially or totally above the gum to hold the tooth together so that it does not break.

D

Decay
An infection of the tooth by bacteria that removes the minerals from inside of it and causes the tooth to soften and grow a hole inside of it. This process happens until the infection meets the tooth’s inner part, creating an infection in the bone below.

Dentistry
The practice of oral medicine involves diagnosing, preventing, and treating any disease concerning teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures.

Denture
(Immediate/complete/partial) (overdenture, temporary denture Implant denture)

An artificial object to replace missing teeth and the structures around them. There are many different types of dentures to meet patients’ diverse needs and budgets.

Denturist
The person who is only responsible for fabricating dentures for patients. A Denturist cannot make any type of diagnosis or perform any other treatment (ex. removing teeth).

Desensitization
A treatment that is performed to reduce the sensitivity of teeth. Desensitization can happen by the use of bonding agents onto a tooth surface or using a laser to seal the roots of the teeth.

Diagnosis
The final identification of a dental problem or disease.

Diastema
The space that exists between two adjacent teeth.

Distal
A direction indication in the mouth that describes the direction away from the middle of the jaw.

E

Edentulous
When a person has zero teeth in their mouth.

Endodontics
The branch of dentistry involving diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the dental pulp (nerves, blood vessels inside the tooth).

Eruption
The process of the tooth coming into the mouth from under the gums.

Excision
Removing something surgically.

Extruded
When a tooth is pulled down further into the mouth

F

Filling
A restoration placed into a tooth to replace the missing tooth structure and restore its function and appearance.

Fixed partial denture
A fixed partial denture or bridge is an artificial tooth that replaces a missing one. It can be supported by natural teeth or dental implants.

Fixed prosthesis
A fixed prosthesis is a permanent restoration of either single or groups of teeth. Examples include crowns, veneers, bridges, inlays, and onlays.

Fixed-removable prosthesis
A fixed-removable prosthesis is a custom set of artificial teeth to replace missing teeth that attach to the patient and can be removed by the user to make cleaning easier.

Flipper
A temporary denture that is used to replace missing teeth.

Floss
A thread or tape that is displaced between teeth to remove bacteria and food.

Fluoride
A compound that can be made in different forms such as water, gels, and rinses and placed on teeth to strengthen them.

Fluoride Treatment
Teeth treatment where fluoride agents like gel or rinse strengthen the tooth and serve to prevent tooth decay.

Fracture
When a tooth or a bone breaks.

G

Gingivitis
Inflammation of the gum may cause it to bleed.

Gingivectomy
Gingivectomies are a surgical procedure where a dentist reshapes the gums to keep them healthy or aesthetically to give teeth a more natural shape.

Graft
Grafting is a surgical procedure to move tissue from one site to another site in the body or from another living being.

Guided tissue regeneration (GTR)
Guided Tissue Regeneration is a method to regenerate lost tissue. This can either be done with bone grafting or placement of a Teflon or collagen membrane to prevent the soft tissue from invading the area you are trying to grow bone.

H

Hemostasis
To stop bleeding.

I

Impaction
A condition where a tooth has not erupted enough or is stuck underneath another tooth or bone.

Implant
A device (usually “screw-like”) that is placed in the jaw bone to support a false tooth, an implant denture, or an implant bridge.

Impression
A mold is taken by a gel material that sets up so into a more solid material to work on things for your mouth when you aren’t at the practice. Impressions have been replaced by using digital laser scanners to scan the teeth instead.

Incisal
The biting and cutting edge of front teeth.

Incisor
The upper and lower four front teeth.

Inlay
A dental lab fabricated restoration (usually gold, composite, or ceramics) cemented onto a tooth like a missing puzzle piece. It restores the normal function, looks, and longevity of the tooth.

Interproximal
Dental term to describe the space between two adjacent teeth

J

K

L

Lingual
A dental term used to describe the side of the tooth that faces towards the tongue.

M

MARPE
Mini-Implant Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion. Skeletally anchored palatal expander that allows for adults to expand their palates. Palatal expansion allows for better nasal breathing for patients who have sleep apnea or have narrow smiles.

Mesial
A dental term used to describe the tooth’s side that faces towards the middle of the jaw.

Microosseous Perforations
Small holes poked into the jaw to tell it to remodel so that the bone becomes soft and orthodontic tooth movement becomes easier, faster, and more comfortable.

Molar
The back three teeth in the upper and lower jaws that have the largest dental crowns in the mouth.

Mouthguard
A rubber device that is worn in the mouth that prevents injury to teeth and/or jaw during sports events. Mouthguards are also known to prevent concussions and traumatic brain injuries from knocks to the jaw during sports activities.

N

Nightguard
A custom-fit mouthguard that is worn at night time to protect the teeth if you grind at night.

O

Obstructive sleep apnea
A sleep disorder where a narrowing of the throat or relaxation of the throat muscles that cause a short-term blockage of the airway during sleep, temporarily causing a person to stop breathing.

Occlusal
A dental term used to describe the side of the tooth that describes the chewing surface of the back teeth.

Occlusion
The way the upper and lower teeth close together.

Onlay
A dental laboratory-made restoration covers the entire chewing surface of a tooth.

Open bite
When the posterior teeth touch, but the front teeth do not touch when the patient is biting down fully.

Orthodontics
A dentistry field involving diagnosing, preventing, and treating skeletal or tooth placement problems or facial irregularities.

Orthodontist
Orthodontists are dental specialists that focus on treating dental displacement and malocclusions, which are improper bites.

Orthognathic surgery
Orthognathics is a type of dental surgery to correct the jaw alignment and bite to achieve facial harmony. Orthognathic surgery can be performed for a single or double jaw to re-position and obtain a beautiful jaw alignment profile.

Orthotic device
An orthotic device is an appliance that supports weak or unstable joints or muscles to help stabilize the joint to allow it to heal.

Osseointegration
Osseointegration is the process in which the titanium of a dental implant attaches directly to the bone cells on the jawline so that the implant becomes a part of the jaw.

Overbite
A dental term describing how much of the lower tooth is covered by the overlapping of upper teeth when the patient is fully biting down.

Overhang
When excess filling material hangs beyond the edge of the tooth.

P

Palate
The roof of the mouth can be separated into the hard palate and soft palate.

Panoramic Radiograph
An x-ray film is used to obtain a wide view of the upper and lower jaws and their associated structures.

Periapical
The structure surrounding the end of the root of a tooth.

Periodontal abscess
This refers to a collection of pus inside of tissue.

Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is also referred to as gum disease. The most common type of periodontal disease is gingivitis, where the gum is inflamed. Periodontitis describes the inflammation of the gum where the bone has been lost.

Periodontal pocket
The potential space between a tooth and the surrounding mucosal tissue that lies over the mandible and maxilla inside the mouth is called a periodontal pocket. It indicates the gingival sulcus’s depth near the point at which the gingival tissue contacts the tooth.

Periodontics
Periodontics is defined as the branch of dentistry that concentrates on the teeth themselves and any other supporting structures around them, including the gums and jaw bone.

Periodontist
A periodontist is a dentist that specializes in the treatment of periodontal disease and the placement of dental implants. Oral inflammation is diagnosed and treated by periodontists.

Periodontitis
Periodontitis is a disease of the gums. It is characterized by inflammation in the gum tissue and tissue around the teeth. It can cause damage to the gum tissue and the weakening of the bones that support teeth. It can cause teeth to loosen or tooth loss. It is mostly the result of poor oral hygiene.

Permanent teeth
Adult teeth first come into the mouth around six years old.

Pontic
A false tooth in a bridge or denture that replaces the missing tooth.

Post
A big pin that can be made with different materials such as metal or carbon. Its function usually is to support a significant buildup on a tooth.

Posterior
A dental term describing something towards the back of what you are trying to describe.

Pre-authorization
An insurance company’s approval before any treatment is carried out, stating that they will help pay for the procedure.

Pre-medication
Medication that needs to be taken before dental treatment.

Premolar
The two teeth that are located in front of the first molar but behind the canine.

Primary teeth
Also known as Baby teeth.

Prophylaxis/prophy
Another name for a tooth cleaning that prevents gum disease.

Prosthesis
An artificial part to replace a missing body part like teeth and their associated structures.

Prosthodontics
A dental specialty responsible for the diagnosis, treatment planning, and fabrication of artificial parts to replace missing teeth and their other associated structures.

Pulp
The innermost part of a tooth contains the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth.

Pulpectomy
A dental procedure involving the complete removal of the whole pulp inside a tooth.

Pulpotomy
A dental procedure involving the removal of only the top part of the pulp inside a tooth is called the pulp chamber.

Q

R

Radiograph
An x-ray image.

Recall
Another name for the regular checkup and teeth cleaning appointment.

Recementation
Dental treatment where a prosthesis is glued back on the associated area.

Restoration
A procedure where a dentist creates something to restore the normal function of a tooth or an area in the mouth. Ex: filling, crown, or bridge, etc.

Retainer
An appliance used to maintain the position of teeth in the jaw after orthodontic treatment is completed or to prevent teeth from shifting more.

Retreatment
Procedure where a dentist or endodontist repeats a root canal treatment.

Root
The part of the tooth that anchors the tooth into the bone.

Root canal
The canal that runs inside the root of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth.

Root canal treatment
A dental treatment that cleans out a tooth infection or an infection in the bone under the tooth, allowing the body to heal.

Root planing
Deep cleaning of the roots and pockets in a patient with gum disease. This type of cleaning typically takes two visits and is more comfortable for the patients when they are numb.

Rubber dam
A rubber sheet that fits around teeth that isolates the treatment area from the rest of the oral cavity and allows for better dental outcomes.

S

Scaling
The action of cleaning calculus or tartar off of tooth roots with dental cleaning instruments.

Sealant
A thin layer of plastic-like material that is placed in the grooves and pits of a tooth to prevent food and bacteria from festering and creating a cavity.

Sedation
The use of medication to calm a patient and remove their anxiety.

Space Maintainer
An appliance used to maintain the space between teeth.

Splint
An appliance used to prevent the movement of something that is mobile or takes the pressure off of a structure.

T

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
The joint that links the mandible to the base of the skull.

Torus
An outgrowth of bone that usually develops on the roof of the mouth or around the premolar area on the lower jaw when the patient has a history of grinding their teeth. It is also associated with sleep apnea and airway problems.

U

V

Veneer
A layer of material (porcelain, composite, or other ceramics) that attaches to the front of the tooth to improve its appearance.

W

Wisdom tooth
The eighth and final tooth from the middle of the jaw.

X

Xerostomia
A dental term describing a dry mouth.

Y

Z