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Dental Dictionary


Dental Terms won't be a privilege of dentists anymore

There are so many dental terms that they certainly deserve to have their own dictionary. For this web site's purpose, we are not trying to publish a complete dental dictionary. What we are interested in is YOU. We have put together all the dental terminologies that you may be interested or useful, and sincerely hope that our effort here can help those patients who want to know more about dentistry. The terms below will help you better understand dental insurance plans and make communication with your dentist more productive. Enjoy.

Click on a letter below to jump to that portion of the index.


                                                                                                       

Abrasion
   Removal of tooth structure due to rubbing and scraping (e.g. incorrect brushing method)

Abscess
   A collection of pus. Usually forms because of infection.

Abutment
   A tooth or tooth structure which is responsible for the anchorage of a bridge or a denture.

Amalgam
   A silver filling material.

Anesthetic
   An agent that causes temporary loss of sensation/feeling.

Anterior
   The front position.

Apex
   The end of the root.

Asepsis
   No micro-organism.

Attrition
   Wear of teeth due to activities such as chewing.

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Bitewing
   A kind of dental x-ray which is taken with the teeth bite together. The main function of this kind of x-ray is to detect cavity in between teeth and height of bone support. Most bitewing x-rays go into a system like Dell PACS where the image can be archived for view by your dentist.

Bleaching
   Whitening of teeth.

Bridge
   A prosthesis which is fixed inside the mouth to replace missing teeth.

Bruxism
   Teeth grinding.

Canine
   The third tooth from the middle of the jaw. There are totally 4 of them. They are the longest teeth in human.

Canker sore
   An ulceration with yellow base and red border in mouth. It can be caused by trauma or herpes simplex virus.

Caries
   Tooth decay.

Cavity
   A hole on the tooth.

Cast
   A model of teeth.

Cementation
   The process of "glue" the appliance/prosthesis on the associated area.

Chlorhexidine
   An anti-microbial agent. It is available in many forms such as gels and rinses. It is an effective agent in controlling gum diseases.

Clasp
   A metal arm extends from a removable partial denture. It helps to hold on to natural tooth structure and thus provide anchorage for the denture.

Cold sore
   An ulcer or blister on lip. A form of herpes simplex.

Composite
   White filling.

Cross-bite
   An abnormal bite relationship of upper and lower jaw. The lower teeth/tooth align toward the check/ lip side more than the upper teeth/tooth.

Crown (porcelain/plastic/metal)
   A crown is almost like a "cap" on a tooth. It covers the tooth partially or totally above the gum to restore its function and outlook.

Decay
   The rotten part of the tooth.

Dentistry
   A branch of medicine that involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of any disease concern about teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures.

Dentition
   The position, type, and number of teeth in upper and lower jaw.

Denture (Immediate/complete/partial) (overdenture, temporary)
   An artificial object to replace missing teeth and their neighboring structures. There are many different types of denture to satisfy different treatment requirements and patient preferences.

Denturist
   The person who specializes in fabricating dentures. Denturist is not responsible for making any type of diagnosis or carrying out any other treatment (e.g. Removing teeth).

Desensitization
   A procedure to reduce the sensitivity of teeth.

Diagnosis
   The process of identifying dental disease.

Diastema
   The space in between two adjacent teeth.

Distal
   A direction indication in the mouth. It indicates the direction away from the middle of the jaw.

Edentulous
   No teeth.

Endodontics
   A department of dentistry involves diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental pulp (where the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth).

Eruption
   The process of the tooth appearing in the mouth.

Excision
   The action of cutting something off.

Filling
   A restoration places on a tooth to restore its function and appearance.

Flipper
   A temporary denture to replace missing teeth during the waiting period for long term treatment.

Floss
   A thread/tape goes in between teeth for cleaning.

Fluoride
   A compound of fluorine (an element) which be put in different forms such as water, gels, rinses to strengthen up teeth.

Fluoride Treatment
   Teeth treat with fluoride agents like gel or rinse. It helps to prevent tooth decay.

Framework
   A metal skeleton of a removable partial denture to support the false teeth and the plastic attachments.

Gingivitis
   The mildest form of gum disease: inflammation of gum. The earliest sign is bleeding gum.

Hemorrhage
   Bleeding

Homeostasis
   Stop bleeding.

Impaction
   A condition that a tooth is not able to come in normally or stuck underneath another tooth or bone.

Implant
   A device (usually "screw-like") put in the jaw bone to support a false tooth, a denture or a bridge.

Impression
   A mold taken by some jelly-like material loaded on a tray.

Incisal
   The cutting edge of front teeth.

Incisor
   The four upper and lower front teeth.

Inlay
   A restoration (usually is gold, composite or ceremics) fabricated in the lab cements on tooth like a missing puzzle. It helps to restore the normal function and outlook of the tooth.

Interproximal
   The space in between two adjacent teeth.

Lingual
   The side of the tooth towards the tongue.

Mesial
   The side of the tooth towards the middle of the jaw.

Molar
   The last 3 upper and lower teeth on both side of the mouth.

Mouthguard
   A device to be worn in the mouth. Depends on the design of it, it prevents injury on teeth and/or jaw during teeth grinding or sport events.

Nightguard
   A mouthguard which is worn at night time.

Occlusal
   The biting surface of the back teeth.

Occlusion
   The way how the upper and lower teeth close together.

Onlay
   A restoration covers the entire biting surface of a tooth.

Open bite
   The situation that the upper teeth not able to contact the opposing lower teeth.

Orthodontics
   A special field in dentistry which involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of bite abnormalities or facial irregularities.

Over bite
   The overlap of upper teeth and lower teeth when they close together.

Overhang
   The portion of filling material that hangs beyond the border of the cavity.

Palate
   The roof of the mouth.

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

Perforation
   An opening on a tooth or other oral structure.

Periapical
   The surrounding of the bottom of the root of a tooth.

Periodontics
   A specialty of dentistry involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of supporting unit of teeth.

Permanent teeth
   Adult's teeth. The first permanent tooth usually comes in around 6 years old.

Pin
   A piece of "nail-like" metal. It usually is used for better retention of a filling.

Polish
   A process to make the tooth or filling or other denture smooth and glossy.

Pontic
   The false tooth in a bridge or denture to replace the missing tooth.

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

Posterior
   Locate at the back.

Pre-authorization
   An approval from the particular authority (usually insurance company in dentistry) before any action (treatment) is carried out.

Pre-medication
   Medication needs to be taken before treatment.

Premolar
   The two teeth located in front of the molar.

Prescription
   A written statement (from a doctor to a pharmacist) regarding the type, the amount and direction of the use of a medication for a patient. In dentistry, prescription can also be a written statement on preparation of an appliance from a dentist to a lab technician

Primary teeth
   Baby teeth.

Prophylaxis/prophy
   The procedure of teeth polishing. It also means the prevention of diseases.

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

Prosthodontics
   A specialty of dentistry involves diagnosis, treatment planning, and fabrication of artificial parts to replace missing teeth and their associated structures.

Pulp
   The inner most part of a tooth. It contains nerves and blood vessels inside a tooth.

Pulpectomy
   The removal of the whole pulp inside a tooth.

Pulpotomy
   The removal of the top part of the pulp inside a tooth.

Radiograph
   An x-ray picture.

Recall
   The regular checkup and teeth cleaning appointment.

Recementation
   The process of "glue" the appliance/prosthesis back on the associated area.

Restoration
   An item a dentist uses to restore the normal function of a tooth or an area in the mouth. It can be a filling, a crown, a bridge, etc.

Retainer
   A device used for maintaining the position of teeth in the jaw in orthodontic treatment.

Retreatment
   The process of repeating the root canal treatment.

Root
   The bottom part of tooth. It anchors the tooth to its supporting units.

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

Root canal treatment
   A treatment for the root canal inside the tooth. Click here to see details.

Root planing
   The action of cleaning on the root area of teeth.

Rubber dam
   A rubber sheet that fits around teeth. It isolates the treatment area from the rest of the oral cavity.

Scaling
   The action of cleaning of teeth below the gumline.

Sealant
   A thin layer of plastic-like material covers the grooves and pits on a tooth to prevent cavity.

Sedation
   The use of medication to calm down a patient.

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

Splint
   An appliance or a material to prevent movement of a mobile part.

Tempromandibular Joint (TMJ)
   The joint that links two jaws.

Torus
   An outgrowth on bone. It usually develops on the roof of the mouth or around the premolar area on the lower jaw.

Veneer
   A layer of tooth-colored material (can be porcelain, composite, or ceramics) attaches to the front of the tooth. It is usually for better outlook of the tooth. Check to make sure a reputable supplier like schein dental supplies are being used.

Wisdom tooth
   The eighth (also the last tooth) tooth from the middle of the jaw.

Xerostomia
   Dry mouth