Glossary of Terms

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:

a most common filling material, also known as "silver fillings,"containing 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 (three) 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 periodintal 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

DMD:

Doctor of Medical Dentistry - equivalent to DDS

decay:

destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria

deciduous teeth:

commonly called "baby teeth," the first set of (usually) twenty teeth

dentin:

inner layer of tooth structure, immediately under the surface enamel

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

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

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

freeway space:

distance between the upper and lower teeth with the lower jaw in rest position

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 sutrpface of posterior teeth

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.

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

GTR:

(guided tissue regeneration) a new technique for replacing bone tissue

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

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:

techinque 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 chairside

interproximal:

surfaces of adjoining teeth

interocclusal:

space between upper and lower teeth

intraoral camera:

a smal 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

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

MAGD:

Masters Academy of General Dentistry

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

NSAID:

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

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

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 cavity:

the mouth

oral hygiene:

process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures

oral and maxillofacial surgery:

surgical procedures on the mouth including extractions, removal of cysts or tumors, and repair of fractured jaws

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:

horozontal overlap of the front teeth

palate:

hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth

palliative treatment:

non invasive relief of irritating conditions

parasthesia:

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

periapical (PA):

region at the end of the roots of 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

pedodontics or pediatric dentistry:

dental specialty focusing on treatment of children

periodontal chart:

record measuring the depth of gum pockets around the teeth

permanent teeth:

(usually) thirty-two 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, 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

reimplantation:

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 chairside; 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 planing:

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

sequstrum:

loosened spicule of bone pushed to the surface

sinusitis:

infammation of the sinus that may mimc 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 exudate; pus

tartar:

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

tmd (or tmj disorder):

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

third-party provider:

insurance company, union, government agency that pays all or a part of cost of dental treatment

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