Glossary

Dental Terms & Definitions

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
Amalgam – Material made from mercury and other alloy mixtures used to restore a drilled portion of a tooth.
Anesthesia – Medications used to relieve pain.
Anterior teeth – Front teeth. Also called incisors and cuspids.
Arch – The upper or lower jaw.
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B
Baby bottle tooth decay – Caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby’s mouth.
Bicuspids -A premolar tooth; tooth with two cusps, which are pointed or rounded eminences on or near the masticating surface of a tooth.
Bitewings – X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities.
Bonding – Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth.
Bridge – A prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or otherwise attached to the abutment teeth or implant replacements.
Bruxism – Teeth grinding.
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C
Calculus – A hard deposit of mineralized substance adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices.
Canal – The narrow chamber inside the tooth’s root.
Canines – Also called cuspids.
Canker sore – One that occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. A canker sore is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border.
Caries – A commonly used term for tooth decay, or cavities.
Cold sore – Usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by the herpes simplex virus, and it is usually painful and filled with fluid.
Composite filling – Tooth colored restorations, also known as resin fillings.
Composite resin – A tooth colored resin combined with silica or porcelain and used as a restoration material.
Contouring – The process of reshaping teeth.
Crown – An artificial tooth replacement that restores missing tooth structure by surrounding the remaining coronal tooth structure. It is also placed on a dental implant.
Cusps – The pointed parts on top of the back teeth’s chewing surface.
Cuspids – Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge.
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D
Dentin – The tooth layer underneath the enamel.
Denture – A removable set of teeth.
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E
Endodontics – A form of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth’s root or nerve.
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F
Fluoride – A harmless over-exposure to fluoride resulting in tooth discoloration.
Fluorosis – A harmless over-exposure to fluoride and resulting sometimes in tooth discoloration.
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G
Gingiva – Another word for gum tissue.
Gingivitis – A minor disease of the gums caused by plaque.
Gum disease – An infection of the gum tissues. Also called periodontal disease.
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I
Impacted teeth – A condition in which a tooth fails to erupt or only partially erupts.
Implant – A permanent appliance used to replace a missing tooth.
Incisor – Front teeth with cutting edges; located in the center or on the sides near the front.
Inlay – An artificial filling made of various materials, including porcelain, resin, or gold.
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L
Laminate veneer – A shell that is bonded to the enamel of a front tooth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin.
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M
Malocclusion – Bad bite relationship.
Mandible – The lower jaw.
Maxilla – The upper jaw.
Molar – Usually the largest teeth, near the rear of the mouth. Molars have large chewing surfaces.
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N
Neuromuscular Dentistry – Addresses more than the aches and pains felt in and around the neck and head that are associated with your teeth and jaw.

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O
Onlay – A filling designed to protect the chewing surface of a tooth.
Orthodontics – A field of dentistry that deals with tooth and jaw alignment.
Overdenture – A non-fixed dental appliance applied to a small number of natural teeth or implants.
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P
Palate – Roof of the mouth.
Partial denture – A removable appliance that replaces missing teeth.
Pediatric Dentistry – A field of dentistry that deals with children’s teeth
Perio pocket – An opening formed by receding gums.
Periodontal disease – Infection of the gum tissues. Also called gum disease.
Periodontist – A dentist who treats diseases of the gums.
Permanent teeth – The teeth that erupt after primary teeth. Also called adult teeth.
Plaque – A sticky, colorless substance that covers the teeth after sleep or periods between brushing.
Posterior teeth – The bicuspids and molars. Also called the back teeth.
Primary teeth – A person’s first set of teeth. Also called baby teeth or temporary teeth.
Prophylaxis – The act of cleaning the teeth.
Prosthodontics – The field of dentistry that deals with artificial dental appliances.
Pulp – The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood, nerves and connective tissue.
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R
Receding gum – A condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth’s enamel and surrounding bone.
Resin filling – An artificial filling used to restore teeth. Also called a composite filling.
Root canal – A procedure in which a tooth’s nerve is removed and an inner canal cleansed and later filled.
Root planing – Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line.
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S
Sealant – A synthetic material placed on the tooth’s surface that protects the enamel and chewing surfaces.
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T
TMJ – Temporomandibular joint disorder. Health problems related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear.
Tarter – A hardened substance (also called calculus) that sticks to the tooth’s surface.
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V
Veneer – A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.
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W
Whitening – A process that employs special bleaching agents for restoring the color of teeth.
Wisdom tooth – Third set of molars that erupt last in adolescence.
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Other Dental Services

In general dentistry, the dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions, disorders and diseases affecting the teeth, gums and maxillofacial (jaw and face) parts of the body.

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From minor tweaks to major makeovers, we offer a comprehensive range of cosmetic services to fit any patient’s needs, lifestyle and oral health.

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Bonding is a process in which an enamel-like material is applied to a tooth's surface, sculpted to an ideal shape, hardened, and then polished for an ideal smile.

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Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. 

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Sealants act as a barrier to prevent bacteria and food from collecting and sitting on the grooves and pits of teeth.

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Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge.

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Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic cemented over the front of your teeth to change their color or shape. Veneers are used on teeth with uneven surfaces or are chipped, discolored, oddly shaped, unevenly spaced or crooked.

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Whitening procedures have effectively restored the smile of people with stained, dull, or discolored teeth.The darker tissue of your teeth, the dentin, can become exposed as the outer layer of enamel is worn away by the effects of aging or things like caffeine and tobacco. 

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Different treatment can often be used to correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth. Some of the treatments include Veneers, Bonding, Dental Contouring & Reshaping.

Invisalign's® invisible, removable, and comfortable aligners will give you the beautiful straight teeth you've always wanted. And best of all, no one can tell you're wearing them. Invisalign is great for adults and teenagers. 

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Sealants are liquid coatings that harden on the chewing surfaces of teeth and are showing a great deal of effectiveness in preventing cavities—even on teeth where decay has begun.

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When restoration procedures such as root canal therapy, crowns, or fillings are not enough to save a tooth, it may need to be pulled, or extracted.

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Simple toothaches can often be relieved by rinsing the mouth to clear it of debris and other matter. A broken, fractured or displaced tooth is usually not a cause for alarm, as long as decisive, quick action is taken. 

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Root canal therapy is a remarkable treatment with a very high rate of success, and involves removing the diseased tissue, halting the spread of infection and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth.

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A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with various metals.

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Some cases of acute periodontal (gum) disease that do not respond to more conventional treatment and self-care such as flossing may require a special kind of cleaning called scaling and root planing.

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A knocked out tooth or bitten tongue can cause panic in any patient, but quick thinking and staying calm are the best ways to approach such common dental emergencies and prevent additional unnecessary damage and costly dental restoration. Please contact our office as soon as possible.

Soft tissue grafts are sometimes performed to treat gum disease, or correct other abnormalities. The procedure involves taking gum tissue from the palate or another donor source to cover an exposed root in order to even the gum line and reduce sensitivity.

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