Dental Dictionary

Dental Dictionary

A

Abrasion
Removal of various tooth structure due to rubbing or scraping. Incorrect brushing technique is a common cause.

Abscess
A collection of  fluid. Usually forms because of infection and is commonly formed when pulp becomes infected.

Abutment
Either a group of teeth or a single tooth that is responsible for the support of a bridge or a denture. 

Acrylic Resign 

The plastic widely used in dentistry to make dentures.

Active Eruption

The emergence of the tooth from its position in the jaw.

Adjustments

A modification made upon a dental prosthesis after it has been completed and inserted into the mouth.

Aerobic Bacteria

Bacteria which grow in oxygen rich environments; in the oral cavity the bacteria are found outside the sulcus.

Afferent

Nerves that carry sensory messages toward the brain.

Alveolectomy

An operation where portions of the alveolar bone are removed.

Alveolar Bone 

The bone surrounding the root of the tooth; loss of this bone is typically associated with severe periodontal disease.

Alveolus

The bony socket in which the root of the tooth sits.

Amalgam
A common silver filling material used to restore tooth structure after cavity.

Anaerobic Bacteria 

Bacteria that do not need oxygen to grow; they are generally associated with periodontal disease.

Anesthetic

An agent that causes numbness of feeling/sensation to reduce treatment discomfort

Anodontia 

The developmental absence of teeth.

Antibiotic 

Substance produced by or derived from bacteria which is able to inhibit or kill other bacteria.

Anug

Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis. An acute, painful condition characterized by severe gingival redness, spontaneous bleeding, foul breath and pain.

Apex 
The end of the root in a tooth. 

Apical Foramen 

The opening at the end of the root of a tooth through which the tooth receives its nerve and blood supply.

Arch

A curvature; both the maxillary and mandibular ridge form a horseshoe shaped arch.

Asepsis
No micro-organism. 

Aspirator  

The tube-like straw which the dentist place in your mouth for suction.

Asymmetry/ Symmetry

To be esthetic, tooth Size, shape and gum contour should be as close to identical from one side of the mouth to the other. Ideally, the incisal edges of your teeth should follow the contour of the upper lip.

Attachment  Level

A numerical measure of the amount of attachment of the periodontal ligament to a tooth; the number is generally determined by combining a pocket depth measurement with a measurement of gingival recession. Attachment level is considered one of the most important measures of periodontal disease progress or treatment success.

Attrition
Wear of teeth due to general chewing etc.

Axon

The process that carries impulses away from the cell body of a nerve.

B

Bicuspids

Or having two cusps. The first and second bicuspids; they are the fourth and fifth teeth from the center of the mouth, respectively. These are the back teeth that are used for chewing.

Bitewing
A kind of dental x-ray which is taken with the teeth bite together.  Used to detect cavities in between teeth and the height of bone support.

Bleaching
A method of whitening the teeth. 

Bolus

Chewed up mass of food and saliva.

Bone Graft

 Surgical replacement of bone around tooth roots or in preparation for a dental implant.  

Bonding

Dental bonding is a process in which a tooth-colored resin material  is applied and hardened to the teeth. This ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth to restore or improve a person’s smile.

Bridge
A prosthesis which is fixed inside the mouth replacing missing teeth

Brushing

The regular cleaning of teeth to maintain oral health.

Bruxism
Teeth grinding. 

Buccinator Muscle 

The cheek muscle.

C

Calculus

Hard calcium like deposits which form on teeth and dentures.

Canal

The narrow chamber inside the root of a tooth that contains nerve tissue and blood vessels.

Canine
They are the longest teeth in human and is the third tooth from the middle of the jaw. There is a total of four and are an important part of our bite

Canker sore
An ulceration in mouth. It can be caused by dental trauma or herpes simplex virus. 

Cap

Similar or identical to a crown. A cover for added protection to a worn or decayed tooth.

Caries
Tooth decay. 

Cavity
A hole on the tooth. 

Cast
An artificial model of teeth. 

Cementation
Gluing an appliance or part to the patients mouth. Often used for bridges and crowns 

Chlorhexidine
An anti-microbial agent. 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. 

Cosmetic Dentistry

The area of dentistry specifically guided towards improving the appearance of the teeth.

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.

D

Decalcification 

The loss of calcium from your teeth, weakening the teeth and making them more susceptible to decay.
Decay

The rotten part of the tooth. 

Deciduous Teeth

Baby teeth; teeth that exfoliate or shed.

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. 

E

Edema

Swelling resulting from fluid accumulation in gingival tissues.

Edentulous

No teeth. 

Embrasure

The space between two teeth created by the sloping away of the mesial and distal surfaces.

Empress

Type of porcelain crown and porcelain veneer/laminate. The advantage Empress is that it blends very nicely with the surrounding teeth; it is very esthetic.

Enamel 

The hard, white shiny surface of the crown; composed of 95% calcium hydroxyapatite.

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. 

F

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. This can help remove plaque , food and other debree

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. 

Fossa 

A shallow depression on the lingual (tongue) surfaces of some front teeth.

Framework

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

 G

General Anesthesia

Relieves the sensation of pain.

Gingiva 

The soft tissue surrounding teeth, also known as the gums.

Gingivectomy  

The removal of soft tissue surrounding the tooth; typically used in the treatment of periodontal disease.

Gingivitis

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

 

H

Heat Sterilising 

Use of an autoclave or dry-heat sterilizer to kill all potential disease-causing agents that remain following patient treatment. Any instruments that is not heat stable and cannot tolerate high temperatures should be thoroughly cleaned and soaked in disinfectant chemicals.

Hemorrhage
Bleeding 

Histology

The study of tissues.

Homeostasis
Stop bleeding. 

 I

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. 

J

Jaw

A common name for the maxilla or mandible.

K

 Keratin

A protein present in all cuticular structures of the body, such as hair, epidermis and horns.

L

Laminate Veneer

A porcelain, or composite covering which is bonded to restore discolored, or damaged teeth.

Lingual
The side of the tooth towards the tongue. 

Lobe

Center of tooth formation.

M

Maxillae

The upper jaw.

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. 

Mouth Guard
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. 

 N

Nasal

Relating to the nose.

Neuron

A nerve cell.

Neoplasm

A proliferation of cells interfering with surrounding tissues; refers to cancer.

Nightguard 
A mouth guard which is worn at night time. Often used to help snoring or the grinding of teeth.

O

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. 

Oral Cancer

A tumor/growth that has developed in the mouth

Oral Cavity

The mouth

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

Osteoblasts 

Cells which aid in the growth and development of teeth and bones.

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.  

 P

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. 

 Q

Quadrant

Denotes one of four equal sections in the mouth. The upper right, upper left, lower right or the lower left.


 R

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 inorthodontic 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 Therapy (RCT)

Procedure used to save an abscessed tooth in which the pulp chamber is cleaned out, disinfected, and filled with a permanent filling.

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. 

S

Sagittal  Plane 

An imaginary longitudinal vertical plane that divides the mouth into two halves (left and right.)

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 relax a patient. 

Sinuses

Membrane lined, air filled cavities in our skulls above our upper teeth, between our eyes, and between our eyebrows.  Sinus infections are a common source of facial pain and headaches. 

Sinusitis

Infection in the sinus cavities, of which we have four.  The largest of the sinuses is the maxillary sinus, located just above the roots of the upper molars. This area can be mistaken for tooth pain.  Maxillary sinusitis is sometimes characterised by pain in the jaw or face that changes when you lean over, lay down, or stand up.

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

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

Surgical Extraction

Extraction of a tooth whereby an incision and sutures are necessary, and/or the tooth is more safely and comfortably removed in pieces.

T

Teething

Baby teeth pushing through gums.

Third Molar 

See Wisdom Tooth 

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. 

U

Ultrasonic

The conversion of high frequency electrical current into mechanical vibrations.

Universal Precautions

These precautions require all dental staff involved in patient care to use appropriate protective wear, such as gloves, masks and eye wear. After each patient visit, the gloves must be discarded, hands washed and a new pair of gloves donned for the next patient. These precautions are considered universal because they are used for each and every patient to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases.

USUAL, CUSTOMARY AND REASONABLE (UCR)

The doctor’s fee is considered usual, customary, and reasonable if it meets the following requirements: 1. Usual: the doctor’s usual fee is charged; 2. Customary: if the doctor’s fee falls in the same range as other dentists in the area; 3. Reasonable: the doctor’s modified fee is justified because of special circumstances. 

V

Veneer

A layer of tooth-colored material (can be porcelain, composite, or ceramics) attaches to the front of the tooth. Veneers are usually used for cosmetic reasons and are placed on the tooth after having enamel scraped to make room.

Virgin Teeth

Teeth that are free from decay or restorations.

 W

Teeth Whitening

Using various techniques to arrive at an improved shade of white for your teeth. Often in the form of home whitening kits, lasers and bleach.

Wear Facet-  Flat areas on teeth or restorations caused by grinding or bruxism

Wisdom tooth
The eighth (also the last tooth) tooth from the middle of the jaw. Wisdom teeth usually come through in the early 20s and act as a third molar

 X

Xerostomia 
Dry mouth 

Y

Yeast 

A general term for a fungus occurring as a unicellular, nucleated organim that usually reproduces by budding.

Z

Zygomatic Bone 

Quadrangular bone on either side of face that forms the cheek prominence.

 

Complete Dental Guide – Our Dental Dictionary is currently in progress and is compiled from many valued and respected sources including our experts.