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Glossary of Dental Terms from Dentists in Fort Loramie, OH

Abrasion
Loss of tooth structure caused by a hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique, or Bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth)

Abscess
An infection of a tooth, soft tissue, or bone

Abutment
Tooth or teeth that support a fixed or removable bridge

Adhesive Dentistry
Contemporary term for dental restorations that involve "bonding" of composite resin or porcelain fillings to natural teeth

Air Abrasion
Removal of tooth structure by blasting a tooth with air and abrasive, a relatively new technology that may avoid the need for anesthetic

Allergy
Unfavorable systemic response to a foreign substance or drug

Alveolar Bone
The jaw bone that anchors the roots of teeth

Amalgam
The most common filling material, also known as "silver fillings," contains mercury (app 50%), silver, tin, copper and zinc used for fillings

Analgesia
A state of pain relief; an agent lessening pain

Anesthesia
Partial or complete elimination of pain sensation; numbing a tooth is an example of local anesthesia; general anesthesia produces partial or complete unconsciousness

Anterior Teeth
The six upper or six lower front teeth

Antibiotic
A drug that stops or slows the growth of bacteria

ANUG
An acronym for Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, commonly known as trench mouth or Vincent's disease, aggravated by stress and/or smoking

Apex
The tip of the root of a tooth

Apicoectomy
Surgical removal of the root tip to treat a dead tooth

Arch
Describes the alignment of the upper or lower teeth

Attrition
Loss of structure due to natural wear

Base
Cement placed under a dental restoration to insulate the pulp (nerve chamber)

Bicuspid or Pre-Molar
Transitional teeth behind the cuspids

Bifurcation & Trifurcation
Juncture of two (or three, respectively) roots in posterior teeth

Biopsy
Removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic examination

Bite
Relationship of the upper and lower teeth on closure (occlusion)

Bite Wings
Caries (decay) detection x-rays

Black Hairy Tongue
Elongated papillae on the tongue, promoting the growth of microorganisms

Bleaching
Chemical or laser treatment of natural teeth for whitening effect

Block Injection
Anesthesia of a nerve trunk that covers a large area of the jaw; a mandibular block injection produce numbness of the lower jaw, teeth, half the tongue

Bonding
Adhesive dental restoration technique; a tooth-colored composite resin to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth

Bone Resorption
Decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth; a common result of periodontal (gum disease)

Braces
Devices used by orthodontists to gradually reposition teeth to a more favorable alignment

Bridge
Stationary dental prosthesis (appliance) fixed to teeth adjacent to a space; replaces one or more missing teeth, cemented or bonded to supporting teeth or implants adjacent to the space

Bruxism
Grinding or gnashing of the teeth, most commonly while the patient is asleep

Bruxomania
Persistent "nervous" grinding of the teeth while the patient is awake

Calcium
Chemical element needed for healthy teeth, bones, and nerves

Calculus
Hard residue, commonly known as "tarter," that forms on teeth due to inadequate plaque control, often stained yellow or brown

Canker Sore
Mouth sore appearing whitish, often with a red halo, of ten to fourteen day duration

Cantilever Bridge
Fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth only on one end

Cap
Common term for dental crown

Caries
Tooth decay or "cavities"

Cast or Model
Reproduction of structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold

Cavitron
Dental tool that uses high frequency ultrasonic waves to clean teeth

Cellulitis
Soft tissue infection causing extensive, hard swelling, a potentially dangerous condition requiring immediate attention

Cementum
Hard tissue that covers the roots of teeth

Chart
Log of dental or medical records

Clasp
Device that retains a removable partial denture to stationary teeth

Cleaning
Removal of plaque and calculus (tarter) from teeth, generally above the gum line

Composite Resin
Material composed of plastic with small glass or ceramic particles; usually cured with filtered light or chemical catalyst

Cosmetic (Aesthetic) dentistry
Treatments performed to enhance appearance; not a recognized specialty

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
Artificial procedures employed by a rescuer after cessation of breathing or heart stoppage

Cross Bite
Reverse biting relationship of upper and lower teeth; aka "under bite," as in Class III malocclusuion (prognathic jaw)

Crown
(1) The portion of a tooth above the gum line; (2) Dental restoration covering all or most of the natural tooth

Curettage
Removal of diseased tissue from a periodontal pocket

Cusp
Mound on posterior teeth

Cuspid or Canine
The four "eye teeth"

Cyst
A soft or hard tissue sac, hard or filled with fluid

DDS
Doctor of Dental Surgery - equivalent to DMD

Decay
Destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria

Deciduous Teeth
Commonly called "baby teeth," the first set of (usually) twenty teeth

Dental Implant
A (usually) titanium cylinder surgically placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw to provide support for a dental restoration or appliance

Dentin
Inner layer of tooth structure, immediately under the surface enamel

Dentition
The arrangement of natural or artificial teeth in the mouth

Denture
Removable (partial or complete) set of artificial teeth

Denturism
The production of dentures dispensed directly by laboratory technicians

Diastema
Space between teeth

DMD
Doctor of Medical Dentistry - equivalent to DDS

Enamel
Hard tissue covering the portion of tooth above the gum line

Endodontist
Specialist who treats injuries, diseases, and infections of the tooth pulp (nerve chamber)

Epidemiology
Study of the incidence of disease in a population

Eruption
Process of teeth protruding through the gums

Exfoliate
Process of shedding deciduous (baby) teeth

Exodontia
Practice of dental extractions

Explorer
Sharp instrument used to detect decay on the surface of teeth

Extraction
Removal of a Tooth

Eyeteeth
The four upper and lower canine (cuspid) teeth

Facing
Tooth colored overlay on the visible portion of a crown; may be acrylic, composite or porcelain

FAGD
Fellowship Academy of General Dentistry

Filling
Restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain or resin materials

Fistula
Channel emanating pus from an infection site; a gum boil

Flap Surgery
Lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures

Forceps
Instrument used for removal of teeth

Forensic Dentistry
Practice of gathering legal evidence for body identification or judicial issues

Fossa
Valley found on the surface of posterior teeth

Freeway Space
Distance between the upper and lower teeth with the lower jaw in rest position

Frenectomy
Removal or reshaping of thin muscle tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum, or the tongue to the floor of the mouth

Full Denture
Removable dental prosthesis (appliance) replacing all upper or lower teeth

Full Mouth Reconstruction
Extensive restorations of natural teeth with crowns and or fixed bridges to manage bite problems.

General Anesthesia
Controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of pain sensation, protective reflexes, and the ability to respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command

Geographic Tongue
Benign changes in the usual color and texture of tongue; does not require treatment

Gingiva
Gum tissue

Gingivectomy
Surgical removal of gum tissue

Gingivitis
Inflammation of gum tissue

GTR (Guided Tissue Regeneration)
A new technique for replacing bone tissue

Gum Boil
See Fistula

Gum Recession
Exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums as a result of abrasion, periodontal disease, or surgery

Halitosis
Bad breath of oral or gastrointestinal origin

Heimlich Maneuver
Technique employed by rescuer for obstruction of victim's airway

Hematoma
Swelling of effused blood beneath tissue surface

HMO or DMO
Health (dental) maintenance organization which specifies a health care (dental) provider a patient may see; profitability depends on minimization of treatment

Hydrogen Peroxide
Disinfecting solution used in dental irrigation procedures or as mouth rinse

Hygienist
Dental auxiliary who cleans teeth and provides patient education; administers local anesthetic, nitrous oxide and performs periodontal scaling

Hyperemia
Increased blood flow; may cause dental sensitivity to temperature and sweets; may precede an abscess

Impaction
Partial or completely unexposed tooth that is wedged against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue, precluding the eruption process

Implant
Artificial device replacing tooth root; may anchor an artificial tooth, bridge, or denture

Impression
Mold made of the teeth and soft tissues

Incision and Drainage
Surgical incision of an abscess to drain suppuration (pus)

Incisors
Four upper and four lower front teeth, excluding the cuspids (canine teeth)

Infiltration
Local anesthetic procedure effective for upper teeth and soft tissue; placement of anesthetic under the gum, allowing it to seep into bone

Inlay
Indirect filling made by a dental laboratory that is cemented or bonded into place, direct - placement of dental composite resin restoration at chair side

Interocclusal
Space between upper and lower teeth

Interproximal
Surfaces of adjoining teeth

Intraoral Camera
A small video camera used to view and magnify oral conditions; images may be printed

Jacket
Crown for a front tooth, usually made of porcelain

Laminate
Thin plastic or porcelain veneer produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to a tooth

Laughing Gas
Nitrous oxide; odorless inhalation agent that produces relative analgesic (sedation); reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation

Lesion
Injury of bodily tissue due to infection, trauma, or neoplasm

Local Anesthesia
Partial or complete elimination of pain sensation, in the immediate vicinity of its application or injection

MAGD
Masters Academy of General Dentistry

Malocclusion
"Bad bite" or misalignment of the upper and lower teeth

Managed Care
Program whereby patient-dentist assignment and dentist reimbursement is administered by a separate, external organization

Mandible
The lower jaw

Margin
Interface between a restoration and tooth structure

Maryland Bridge
A bridge that is bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth; requires minimum tooth reduction

Mastication
Process of chewing food

Maxilla
The upper jaw

Meniscus
Capsular cushion between temporomandibluar joint and glenoid fossa

Milk Teeth
Deciduous (baby) teeth

Molars
Three back teeth in each dental quadrant used for grinding food.

Moniliasis (Thrush)
Opportunistic fungal infection after administration of antibiotic; not uncommon in the mouth

Mucogingival Junction (MGJ)
Meeting of thick, protective gingival tissue around the teeth and the friable mucous lining of the cheeks and lips

Nerve
Tissue that conveys sensation, temperature, position information to the brain

Nerve (Root) Canal
Dental pulp; the internal chamber of a tooth

Night Guard
Acrylic appliance used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding or gnashing of the teeth during sleep

Nitrous Oxide
A gas used to reduce patient anxiety

Novocain
Older brand name for a local anesthetic, currently replaced by safer, more effective agents

NSAID
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, often used as a dental analgesic

Occlusion
Closure; relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure

Onlay
Laboratory produced restoration covering one or more cusps of a tooth

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
A dental specialist who manages the diagnosis & surgical treatment of diseases, injuries, and deformities of the mouth and supporting structures; Requires four additional years of training after dental school

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Surgical procedures on the mouth including extractions, removal of cysts or tumors, and repair of fractured jaws

Oral Cavity
The mouth

Oral Hygiene
Process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures

Oral Pathologist
Dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases

Orthodontics
Dental specialty that treats misalignment of teeth

Osseous
Boney

Overbite
Vertical overlap of the front teeth

Overdenture
Denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants

Overjet
Horizontal overlap of the front teeth

Palate
Hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth

Palliative Treatment
Noninvasive relief of irritating conditions

Paresthesia
A partial loss of sensation; may be temporary or permanent

Partial Denture
Removable dental prosthesis (appliance) replacing one or more natural teeth

Pathology
Study of disease

Pedodontics or Pediatric Dentistry
Dental specialty focusing on treatment of children

Periapical (PA)
Region at the end of the roots of teeth

Periodontal Chart
Record measuring the depth of gum pockets around the teeth

Periodontal Surgery
Recontouring or esthetic management of diseased gum and supporting tissue

Periodontist
Dental specialist treating the gums and supporting soft and hard tissues retaining natural teeth and the surgical placement of dental implants

Permanent Teeth
Thirty-two (usually) adult teeth in a complete dentition

Pit
A small defect in the tooth enamel; junction of four formative lobes of a developing tooth

Placebo
Inert medication or treatment that produces psychological benefit

Plaque
Soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth; composed of bacteria and food debris due to inadequate dental hygiene

Pontic
Replacement tooth mounted on a fixed or removal appliance

Porcelain Crown
All porcelain restoration covering the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum line)

Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) Crown
Restoration with metal coping (for strength) covered by porcelain (for appearance)

Porcelain Inlay or Onlay
Tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain, cemented or bonded in place

Porcelain Veneers
A thin layer of porcelain, fabricated by a laboratory) bonded to a natural tooth to replace lost tooth structure, close spaces, and straighten teeth or change color and/or shape

Post
Thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy; provides retention for a "coping" that replaces lost tooth structure and retains crown

Post-Core
Post and buildup to replace lost tooth structure and retain crown

Post-Crown
Single structure that combines post-core and crown

PPO or PDO
Preferred provider (dental) organization which a health care (dental) provider may join, offering fee for service treatment at reduced fees

Prognosis
The anticipated outcome of treatment

Prophylaxis
Cleaning of the teeth for the prevention of periodontal disease and tooth decay

Prosthesis
An artificial appliance for the replacement for a body part

Prosthodontist
Dental specialist skilled in restoring or replacing teeth with fixed or removable prosthesis (appliance), maintaining proper occlusion; treats facial deformities with artificial prostheses such as eyes, ears, and noses

Pulp
The nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue inside a tooth

Pulp Cap
A medicated covering over a small area of exposed pulp tissue

Pulp Chamber
The center or innermost portion of the tooth containing the pulp

Pulpectomy
Complete removal of the pulp (commonly done in children's teeth)

Pulpitis
Inflammation of the pulp; common cause of toothache

Pulpotomy
Partial removal of the pulp tissue

Pyorrhea
Older term for periodontal (gum) disease

Replantation
Insertion and temporary fixation of partially or completely avulsed tooth or teeth, resulting from traumatic injury

Reline
Acrylic restoration of denture base to compensate for bone loss; direct: done at chair side; indirect: in conjunction with a dental laboratory

Restoration
Replacement of portion of a damaged tooth

Retained Root
Partial root structure remaining in jaw after extraction or fracture of a natural tooth

Root
Tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw

Root Canal
Common term for root canal therapy, also the interior space of the tooth root

Root Canal Therapy
Process of removing pulp of a tooth and filling it with an inert material

Root Resection
Removal of a portion of diseased root structure, retaining the remaining natural tooth

Rubber Dam
Soft latex sheet used to establish isolation of one or more teeth from contamination by oral fluids and to keep materials from falling to the back of the throat

Saliva
Clear lubricating fluid in the mouth containing water, enzymes, bacteria, mucus, viruses, blood cells, and undigested food particles

Saliva Ejector
Suction tube placed in the mouth to remove saliva

Salivary Glands
Located under tongue and in cheeks, produce saliva

Scaling and Root Planning
Meticulous removal of plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces

Sealants
Thin resin material bonded in the pits and fissures of back teeth for the prevention of decay

Secondary Dentin
Reparative tooth structure produced by the pulp in response to tooth irritation

Sequestrum
Loosened spicule of bone pushed to the surface

Sinusitis
Inflammation of the sinus that may mimic dental pain

Sleep Apnea
The periodic interruption or delay in breathing during sleep

Space Maintainer
Dental device that holds the space lost through premature loss of baby teeth

Splint
Connection of two or more teeth so they function as a stronger single structure

Supernumerary Tooth
Extra tooth

Suppuration
Bacterial contamination of tissue exudates; pus

Tartar
Common term for dental calculus, a hard deposit that adheres to teeth; produces rough surface that attracts plaque

Third-Party Provider
Insurance company, union, government agency that pays all or a part of cost of dental treatment

TMD
Temperomandibular disorder; term given to condition characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw

TMJ
The temporomandibular joint, the point where the lower jaw attaches to the skull

Tooth Bud
Early embryonic structure that becomes a tooth

Tooth Whitening
A chemical or laser process to lighten the color of teeth

Topical Anesthetic
Ointment that produces mild anesthesia when applied to tissue surface

Torus
Common bony protuberance on the palate or lower jaw

Transplant
Placing a natural tooth in the empty socket of another tooth

Trauma
Injury caused by external force, chemical, temperature extremes, or poor tooth alignment

Trench Mouth
Gum disease characterized by severe mouth sores and loss of tissue. See ANUG.

UCR
Usual, customary, and reasonable fees

Unerupted Tooth
A tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct position in the dental arch

Veneer
Plastic or porcelain facing bonded directly to a tooth to improve its appearance. See laminate.

Vertical Dimension
Arbitrary space between upper and lower jaws upon closure; may decrease over time due to wear, shifting or damage to the teeth

Wisdom Teeth
Third (last) molars that usually erupt at age 18-25 (when "wisdom is attained")

Xerostomia
Dry mouth or decrease in the production of saliva