Patient Education Dental Glossary

Tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing such as holding objects between the teeth or improper brushing.

A tooth (or implant) that supports a dental prosthesis.

Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing, practiced in China and other Eastern countries for thousands of years, where it has been used to restore and maintain health and well-being. It is especially useful for patients who gag and can literally turn off the gag reflex for short periods of time. In almost every case this is long enough to take an X-ray or a difficult impression.

The part of the jaw that surrounds the roots of the teeth.

The curving part of the jaw into which the teeth are rooted.

The socket in the alveolar bone into which the tooth's root fits.

An alloy used in direct dental restorations.

Are a mixture of different metals such as 65% silver, 6% copper,2% zinc and 25% tin bound with elemental mercury. Trituration is the process of mixing these alloys together with mercury. The mercury makes up between 45-50% of the mixture and acts as glue that binds these metals into a hard stable substance that can last for decades

Loss of pain sensations without loss of consciousness.

A condition where two hard tissues are fused together. When this happens to a tooth and the alveolar bone, the tooth partially erupts.

A controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of protective reflexes, including loss of ability to independently maintain airway and respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command, produced by a pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic method or combination thereof; Intravenous Sedation/Analgesia:

A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes intravenous administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) and appropriate monitoring.

The loss of pain sensation over a specific area of the anatomy without loss of consciousness. Non-Intravenous Conscious Sedation:

A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) by a route other than IV; (PO, PR, Intranasal, IM) and appropriate monitoring.

A term used for local anesthesia.

Removal of the tip

The mild character of an illness or the non-malignant character of a neoplasm.

A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.

Occurring on, or pertaining to, both right and left sides.

Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.

X-rays used to reveal the crowns of several upper and lower teeth as they bite down. Bleaching aka tooth whitening A cosmetic dental procedure that whitens the teeth using a bleaching solution. It is a process of brightening or whitening stained, discolored, or dull teeth with an in-office power bleaching method, or dentist-supervised, at-home whitening systems.

A composite resin applied to a tooth to change its shape and/or color. It is a process by which enamel-like resin is bonded to a tooths surface, sculpted to an ideal shape, hardened, and polished. This is the technique used for both front and back fillings. Bonding also refers to how a filling, orthodontic appliance or some fixed partial dentures are attached to teeth.

A bridge is a custom device anchored to neighbouring teeth that replaces one or more missing teeth. When a lost tooth is replaced with bridgework, the teeth on either side of the missing one must be prepared as crowns which will serve as abutments to hold the replacement teeth in place.

Constant grinding or clenching of teeth during they day or while asleep.

Hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth.

A relatively narrow tubular passage or channel.

Space inside the root portion of a tooth containing pulp tissue.

Promotes tooth decay.

Commonly used term for tooth decay.

Decay in tooth caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.

Hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.

Birth defect in which one or more fissures form in the upper lip, which takes place while the fetus is growing.

Congenital deformity resulting in lack of fusion of the soft and/or hard palate, either partial or complete.

The clamping and pressing of the jaws and teeth together in centric occlusion, frequently associated with psychological stress or physical effort.

Tooth-colored filling material made of resin reinforced with silica or porcelain particles. A dental restorative material made up of disparate or separate parts (e.g. resin and quartz particles).

A state in which patients are awake and can breathe and swallow on their own but are less aware of what is taking place.

Reshaping the natural teeth to make them straighter or more youthful in appearance.

Field of dentistry dedicated to the art and science of enhancing a person smile, overall appearance, and oral health.

A digital way to see a simulation of what your smile could look like after treatment.

  • Anatomical Crown: That portion of tooth normally covered by, and including, enamel;
  • Abutment Crown: Artificial crown serving for the retention or support of a dental prosthesis;
  • Artificial Crown: Restoration covering or replacing the major part, or the whole of the clinical crown of a tooth; A crown-sometimes called a cap-is a tooth like covering placed over a carefully prepared existing tooth. Most crowns are made of porcelain, a stain resistant material that closely replicates the appearance and function of your natural teeth. Used to strengthen, restore or improve the appearance of your natural tooth a crown is placed on an individual tooth much like a thimble over your finger. Crowns are also used to support teeth when there is no longer sufficient tooth structure left to place a filling.
  • Clinical Crown: That portion of a tooth not covered by supporting tissues.

A surgical procedure exposing more tooth for restorative purposes by apically positioning the gingival margin and/or removing supporting bone.

The pointed portion of the tooth.

Pathological cavity, usually lined with epithelium, containing fluid or soft matter.

Removing foreign matter or dead tissue.

The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.

A device specially designed to be placed surgically within or on the mandibular or maxillary bone as a means of providing for dental replacement; endosteal (endosseous); eposteal (subperiosteal); transosteal (transosseous).

Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus, and stains.

An artificial device that replaces one or more missing teeth.

A dentist who has received postgraduate training in one of the recognized dental specialties.

  • DDS
  • DMD
  • MDS

That part of the tooth that is beneath enamel and cementum. Layer of tooth structure under the enamel. Exposed dentine is the main cause of tooth sensitivity.

The teeth in the dental arch.

  • Permanent Dentition: Refers to the permanent teeth in the dental arch.
  • Deciduous Dentition: Refers to the deciduous or primary teeth in the dental arch.

An artificial substitute for natural teeth and adjacent tissues.

The part of the denture that holds the artificial teeth and fits over the gums.

Space between two teeth, usually the front two teeth.

A restoration fabricated inside the mouth.

See Xerostomia

Localized inflammation of the tooth socket following extraction due to infection or loss of blood clot; osteitis.


Hard calcified tissue or outer hard white layer of tooth covering & protecting dentin of the tooth.


A dental specialist who limits his/her practice to treating disease and injuries of the pulp and associated peri-radicular conditions.

Wearing down of tooth structure, caused by chemicals (acids).

When a tooth emerges or pushes through the gums.

  • Periodic Oral Evaluation: An evaluation performed on a patient of record to determine any changes in the patient's dental and medical health status since a previous comprehensive or periodic evaluation. This may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. Report additional diagnostic procedures separately.
  • Limited Oral Evaluation: Problem focused: an evaluation limited to a specific oral health problem. This may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. Definitive procedures may be required on the same date as the evaluation. Typically, patient's receiving this type of evaluation have been referred for a specific problem and/or present with dental emergencies, trauma, acute infection, etc.
  • Comprehensive Oral Evaluation: Typically used by a general dentist and/or a specialist when evaluating a patient comprehensively. It is a thorough evaluation and recording of the extra oral and intraoral hard and soft tissues. It may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. This would include the evaluation and recording of the patient's dental and medical history and a general health assessment. It may typically include the evaluation and recording of dental caries, missing or unerupted teeth, restorations, occlusal relationships, periodontal conditions (including periodontal charting), hard and soft tissue anomalies, etc.
  • Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation: Typically includes evaluation of periodontal conditions, probing and charting, evaluation and recording of the patient's dental and medical history and general health assessment. It may include the evaluation and recording of dental caries, missing or unerupted teeth, restorations, occlusal relationships and oral cancer screening.
  • Detailed And Extensive Oral Evaluation- Problem-Focused, By Report: A detailed and extensive problem-focused evaluation entails extensive diagnostic and cognitive modalities based on the findings of a comprehensive oral evaluation. Integration of more extensive diagnostic modalities to develop a treatment plan for a specific problem is required. The condition requiring this type of evaluation should be described and documented. Examples of conditions requiring this type of evaluation may include dentofacial anomalies, complicated perio-prosthetic conditions, complex temporomandibular dysfunction, facial pain of unknown origin, severe systemic diseases requiring multi-disciplinary consultation, etc.
  • Re-Evaluation-Limited, Problem Focused (established patient; not post-operative visit): This includes assessing the status of a previously existing condition. Examples of conditions requiring this type of evaluation may include: A traumatic injury where no treatment was rendered but the patient needs follow-up monitoring; Evaluation for undiagnosed continuing pain: A soft tissue lesion requiring follow-up evaluation.

Surgical removal of bone or tissue.

The process or act of removing a tooth or tooth parts.

A lay term used for the restoring of lost tooth structure by using materials such as metal, alloy, plastic or porcelain.

See Sealants

Orthodontic devices, commonly known as braces, that are bonded to the teeth to produce different tooth movements to help reposition teeth for orthodontic therapy.

A fixed partial denture is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or attached to the abutment teeth or implant abutments adjacent to the space.

Fluoride treatments help to strengthen the teeth externally, while the supplements are more helpful for the internal development of the teeth. As the teeth do get topical (external) benefit from fluoride-containing toothpastes, the over-the-counter (non prescription) fluoride rinses are generally not necessary. Dentists may recommend these rinses for children that, for a variety of reasons, may be especially prone to developing cavities. The non prescription rinses are also helpful in adults who are cavity prone.

The breaking of a part, especially of a bony structure; breaking of a tooth.

A combination of 14 or more periapical and 4 bitewing films of the back teeth. This series of x-rays

A deep level of sedation in which patients lose consciousness, feel no pain, and have no memory of what is taking place around them.

Soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.

An overgrowth of gingival tissues.

Inflammation of gingival tissue without loss of connective tissue.

The excision or removal of gingiva.

Surgical procedure to reshape gingiva.

A piece of tissue or alloplastic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency.

Procedure during flap surgery for periodontal disease in which a membrane is inserted between the alveolar bone and the bone graft to encourage the gum tissues to grow onto the alveolar bone.

Also known as Gingivitis or Periodontitis - you may not realize that red or bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity and bad breath are warning signs of gum disease- a serious infection that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss.

Excessive or uneven gums can be corrected with a simple cosmetic surgical procedure or gingivoplasty resulting in a more even, pleasing smile.

Where the widest smile reveals the gum tissue above the teeth.

As licensed oral health professionals, dental hygienists focus on preventing and treating oral diseases-both to protect teeth and gums-and also to protect patients total health. See also Oral Hygiene

This would include, but is not limited to, CAT scans, MRIs, photographs, radiographs, etc.

Prosthesis constructed for placement immediately after removal of remaining natural teeth.

An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.

Material inserted or grafted into tissue.

  • Dental Implant: A dental implant is quite simply a titanium tooth root. This provides the support a crown needs to withstand the pressures of chewing. Implants help reverse the negative impact of missing teeth in a variety of ways, restores and maintains the natural bite, prevents unnatural stress on the other teeth, keeps opposing teeth in their proper place, prevents tilting and shifting of adjacent teeth and enhances your smile, speech and chewing function.

Placement of an artificial or natural tooth into an alveolus.

Central or lateral front teeth with cutting edges (4 upper and 4 lower).

An indirect intracoronal restoration; a dental restoration made outside of the oral cavity to correspond to the form of the prepared cavity, which is then luted onto the tooth. Porcelain, resin, or gold filling (made to fit a prepared cavity) bonded in place to help restore a decayed or broken tooth. Instant orthodontics - The art of using ceramic veneers to 'instantly' (sometimes even within one week) align crooked teeth. See Orthodontics also

Between the teeth.

Inside the mouth.

Medications used intravenously (through the bloodstream) to produce varying levels of sedation.

A common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.

Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter.

Thin, custom-made moldings that cover the fronts of unattractive teeth. They are crafted from lifelike, high-tech materials to portray a bright, natural smile. If you are looking to improve your smile, custom-fitted veneers can provide the answer.

Laminating : Applying a thin porcelain layer or composite resin veneer to a tooth.

Lesion: An injury or wound; area of diseased tissue. Lingual: Pertaining to or around the tongue; surface of the tooth directed toward the tongue; opposite of facial.

Low lip line : Where the widest smile barely reveals the bottom edges of the upper front teeth.

Therapy for preserving the state of health of the periodontium.

Having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and metastasis.

Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth or A bad bite caused by incorrect positions of the upper or lower teeth

A type of fixed partial denture not requiring crowns. The prosthesis is bonded to the natural teeth to secure it.

The upper jaw. Midline An imaginary vertical line that divides the face into equal parts.

Teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.

Device that fits over the teeth to prevent injury to the teeth, mouth or lips. May also refer to a device that prevents tooth grinding or treats temporomandibular disorders.

Lining of the oral cavity as well as other canals and cavities of the body; also called "mucosa."

A device that prevents medically diagnosed migraine pain, tension-type headache, and jaw disorders ("TMJ"), without drugs or surgery, through the reduction of trigeminal innervated muscular activity.

A disorder in which breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep.

Pertaining to the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth or contacting surfaces of opposing teeth or opposing occlusion rims.

Any contact between biting or chewing surfaces of maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth.

An indirect restoration made outside the oral cavity that overlays a cusp or cusps of the tooth, which is then luted on to the tooth or Porcelain, resin, or gold filling that protects a tooth by covering the chewing surface.

Pertaining to the mouth.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries, deformities, defects and esthetic aspects of the oral and maxillofacial regions.

Proper oral hygiene, including flossing at least once a day and brushing twice daily, is just as important as ever to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy, along with regular (four monthly) dental hygiene appointments.

The pink-red tissues that line the mouth.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the interception and treatment of malocclusion of the teeth and their surrounding structures.

Addressing a variety of cosmetic and functional problems this specialized branch of dentistry deals with straightening teeth. Through the use of specially designed and fitted appliances constant and gentle pressure is put on the teeth causing them to move into the desired position.

Surgery performed to correct facial imbalances caused by abnormalities of the jaw bones.

The process by which bone heals around an implant.

Surgical procedure that modifies the configuration of bone.

Surgical cutting of bone.

A removable prosthetic device that overlies and may be supported by retained tooth roots or implants.

The hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities.

Action that relieves pain but is not curative.

Usually refers to a prosthetic device that replaces missing teeth; A Removable dental appliance that replaces some of the natural teeth.

Major salivary glands located in front of and below the ears.

An individual who has established a professional relationship with a dentist for the delivery of dental health care. For matters relating to communication of information and consent, this term includes the patient's parent, caretaker, guardian, or other individual as appropriate under state law and the circumstances of the case.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to treatment of children from birth through adolescence; formerly known as a pedodontist.

See Pediatric Dentist.

A thin nonbacterial film from saliva that covers the teeth.

An x-ray that shows several entire teeth (crowns and roots) and includes a small amount of the periapical bone (surrounding the root tips).

Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.

An infection in the gum pocket that can destroy hard and soft tissues.

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.

Pathologically deepened gingival sulcus; a feature of periodontal disease.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.

Inflammation and loss of the connective tissue of the supporting or surrounding structure of teeth with loss of attachment.

See Sealants

A soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives.

Ceramic, tooth-colored material that fuses at high temperatures to form a hard, enamel-like substance.

An elongated projection fitted and cemented within the prepared root canal, serving to strengthen and retain restorative material and/or a crown restoration.

Refers to teeth and tissues towards the back of the mouth (distal to the canines): maxillary and mandibular premolars and molars.

Interlocking device, one component of which is fixed to an abutment or abutments and the other is integrated into a fixed or removable prosthesis in order to stabilize and/or retain it.

The use of medications prior to dental procedures.

Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stains.

Artificial replacement of any part of the body.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth with artificial substitutes.

Connective tissue that contains blood vessels and nerve tissue which occupies the pulp cavity of a tooth.

The space within a tooth which contains the pulp.

Complete removal of vital and non vital pulp tissue from the root canal space.

Surgical removal of a portion of the pulp with the aim of maintaining the vitality of the remaining portion by means of an adequate dressing; pulp amputation.

Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter.

An image produced by projecting radiation, as x-rays, on photographic film. Commonly called x-ray.

A cyst that can develop under the tongue on the floor of the mouth.

To replace the denture base.

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 orthodontic appliances used to effect simple tipping movements of one tooth or several.

A removable partial denture (removable bridge) is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth that can be removed by the patient.

Thin metal or glass fiber-reinforced bridge requiring slight or no reduction of anchor teeth. Also called a Maryland bridge it is usually used a provisional restoration.

To dissolve.

  • Orthodontic Retainer: Appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment.
  • Prosthodontic Retainer: A part of a fixed partial denture that attaches a pontic to the abutment tooth, implant abutment, or implant.

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 tooth.

The portion of the pulp cavity inside the root of a tooth; the chamber within the root of the tooth that contains the pulp.

The treatment of disease and injuries of the pulp and associated peri-radicular conditions. Inside your tooth, running like a thread through the root, is the pulp. When the pulp is diseased or injured, the pulp tissue dies. If you do not remove it, your tooth gets infected and this causes intense pain and can lead to a dental abscess. After the dentist removes the pulp, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Then a crown is placed over your tooth to help make it stronger.

Tooth decay that forms on the roots.

A procedure designed to remove microbial flora, bacterial toxins, calculus, and diseased cementum or dentin on the root surfaces and in the pocket.

Thin rubber sheet applied to teeth in order to control moisture during dental procedures. It also forms a protective barrier for the patient when silver-mercury fillings are removed.

Removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth.

Plastic resin placed on the biting surfaces of molars to prevent bacteria from attacking the enamel and causing caries.

A small pill is taken before seeing the dentist. This little pill works rapidly to create a relaxed state and although you are in a sleep-like state, you are responsive. It is essential that someone escorts you home. For more challenging cases the services of a specialist anaesthetist are available for intra-venous sedation.

Acupuncture and Reiki are used to induce a relaxed state and decrease anxiety.

An autoimmune disorder (mostly affecting older women) that is characterized by partial or complete cessation of saliva and tears. It can be associated with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatic arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma.

A device used to support, protect, or immobilize oral structures that have been loosened, replanted, fractured or traumatized. Also refers to devices used in the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders.

Inflammation of the membranes in the mouth.

Major salivary glands located in the mucosa on the floor of the mouth.

Walnut-sized major salivary glands located beneath the tongue.

Stitch used to repair incision or wound.

An interim prosthesis designed for use over limited period of time.

The connecting hinge mechanism between the base of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jaw (mandible).

Abnormal functioning of temporomandibular joint; also refers to symptoms arising in other areas secondary to the dysfunction. If a patients teeth don not fit and slide together in harmony, one or more of the head and neck muscle groups may begin to suffer from fatigue. This may be felt as headaches, eye pain, shoulder pain. Stress levels are known to make matters worse

A bony elevation or protuberance of bone.

Tooth/teeth that have not penetrated into the oral cavity

Veneer is a thin, custom-made molding that covers the front of unattractive teeth. They are crafted from lifelike, high-tech materials to portray a bright, natural smile. If you are looking to improve your smile, custom-fitted veneers can provide the answer. In the construction of crowns or pontics, a layer of tooth-colored material, usually, but not limited to, composite, porcelain, ceramic or acrylic resin, attached to the surface by direct fusion, cementation, or mechanical retention; also refers to a restoration that is luted to the facial surface of a tooth.

Method used to lighten a tooth that has darkened after root canal treatment. The whitening agent is placed inside the tooth and is active 24 hours per day.

People with stained or dull teeth will benefit from whitening - a safe, effective means to whiten stained, discoloured or dull teeth (or even a single tooth). In-office and supervised at-home whitening systems are available. At-home systems should be individually fitted and monitored by your cosmetic dentist.

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars are the last teeth to erupt. This occurs usually between the ages of 17 and 25. If these impacted teeth are in an abnormal position (a dentist can show you this on an x-ray), their potential for harm should be assessed. When a wisdom tooth is partially erupted, food and bacteria collect under the gum causing a local infection. This may result in bad breath, pain, swelling Once the initial episode occurs, each subsequent attack becomes more frequent and more severe. Impacted wisdom teeth are almost certain to cause problems if left in place. This is particularly true of the lower wisdom teeth.

Decreased salivary secretion that produces a dry and sometimes burning sensation of the oral mucosa and/or cervical caries.


Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter.

Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter.