Dental Dictionary

abrasion– removal of tooth structure due to rubbing and scraping, for example, improper brushing
abscess– a collection of pus usually caused by infection
abutment– a tooth or tooth structure responsible for the anchorage of a bridge or denture
anesthetic– an agent that causes temporary loss of sensation/feeling
bitewing– a small dental x-ray used for cavity detection and bone height analysis
bridge– a prosthesis which is fixed inside the mouth to replace missing teeth
bruxism– teeth grinding
caries– tooth decay
composite– a tooth colored filling material
cross-bite– an abnormal bite relationship between the upper and lower jaw where the lower jaw is closer to the lip and cheeks than the upper jaw
crown– covering for the entire tooth above the gum line to restore function and esthetics
decay– the rotten portion of a tooth
denture– a removable prosthesis used to replace missing teeth
diastema– a space between two adjacent teeth
endodontist– root canal specialist
eruption– the process of the tooth appearing in the mouth
filling– a restoration placed in a tooth to restore its function and esthetics
flipper– a temporary denture to replace a tooth or teeth during the waiting period for long term treatment
fluoride– a mineral used to strengthen teeth and prevent decay
gingivitis– swelling of the gum tissue
impaction– condition where the tooth is not able to come in normally
implant– a device placed in the jaw to replace a tooth’s root portion
impression– a mold taken of the teeth
interproximal– between teeth
lingual– toward the tongue
mesial– toward the midline
occlusal– on the biting surface of the tooth
occlusion– how the two arches come together
orthodontist– dental specialist that aligns teeth
overhang– area of a filling that exceeds the side of the tooth
panorex– large X-ray taken of the entire lower half of the skull
periapical– small dental X-ray taken of a few teeth
periodontist– dental specialist that treats gum disease
pontic– a false tooth in a bridge or denture to replace missing teeth
post– a rod placed in a tooth that has had root canal treatment in order to build up the tooth
prophy– dental cleaning
prosthodontist– dental specialist involved in crowns, bridges and dentures
pulp– internal chamber of the tooth that houses the nerve and blood supply
radiograph– X-ray
recare– routine dental intervals
root canal– area of the tooth that contains the pulp
root canal treatment– the removal of the dental pulp
scaling– cleaning of the teeth with dental hand instruments
sealant– protective coating placed on the biting surface of a tooth to prevent decay
TMJ– area of the head where the jaw meets the skull
veneer– an artificial covering on a tooth used to create desired esthetics
wisdom tooth– third molars
xerostomia– situation where the saliva flow is minimal, often caused by medication side effects