AbscessTypically the result of an infection, this is a pocket of pus located within the mouth. If not drained, it can cause pressure related pain.
AbutmentTeeth that are responsible for anchoring a bridge or denture or adjacent to a missing tooth gap. These teeth are often filed down to mount the structure for bridges and dentures.
AlveolusIn your jaw bone, this is the gap or opening where the tooth attaches to the jaw itself.
AmalgamWhen a filling is made from a mixture of gold or silver along with other metals, it is called an amalgam.
AnatomyThe arrangement of muscles, bones, and organs in your body. It’s sort of the “road map” of your body that we refer to in order to get to specific parts.
AntisepticA chemical compound that can be applied to tissue or teeth in order to kill germs and prevent infections.
AnestheticWhether topical, gas, or IV, an anesthetic helps reduce or eliminate sensation, allowing us to work on your teeth and gums without causing great discomfort.
AnteriorThis term simply refers to a front view or the front part of your mouth.
Anterior TeethYour centrals, laterals, and cuspids are your anterior teeth, as these are located in the front part of your mouth.
ApexThe very tip of a tooth’s root is known as the apex of the tooth.
ArchThe arch of your teeth can either be the entire array of teeth or the basal bone of your jaw which holds them in place.
ArticulatorThis device holds a model of your teeth in the same arrangement as in your mouth, allowing us to easily examine your bite without needing to probe around.
AsepsisActively using various techniques to prevent contact with microorganisms, particularly pathogenic (harmful) microorganisms.
AspiratorYour mouth is constantly producing saliva, and it can get in the way of dental work. This small vacuum hose sucks up all the moisture in your mouth.
AspirationThe act of removing moisture from your mouth by using an aspirator.
AttritionWhen you bite, chew, or drink anything, it causes some amount of wear on your teeth. This wearing of the teeth is called attrition.
AvulsedTeeth that have been avulsed have been completely knocked out of your mouth, often due to a sudden impact.
BitewingA type of x-ray that examines the entire arch of either your upper or lower teeth. It’s used to detect signs of cavities between teeth as well as the height of bone support.
BleachingWhen teeth are whitened, it is called bleaching.
BridgeA bridge is a dental implant that replaces a lost tooth by connecting a false tooth to one or two adjacent teeth, known as an abutment.
BruxismBruxism is a medical condition where a person clenches or grinds their teeth, often in their sleep. This can damage teeth quickly, and can be prevented with mouth guards.
BuccalUsually referring to the back teeth, the buccal is the side of teeth close to the cheeks.
CalculusIf plaque isn’t cleared regularly, it hardens and turns into calculus. It is also known as tartar.
CanineDesigned for tearing food apart, canines are the longest teeth in the human mouth, and are the third tooth from the middle of the jaw. There are two in each jawbone (upper and lower).
Canker SoreSmall, sometimes painful sores inside the mouth that appear yellow around the base with a red border. They may be caused by dental trauma or a herpes simplex virus.
CariesThis is the more scientific term for cavities. They are essentially small holes in the outer portion of the teeth caused by tooth decay.
CavityThe more common term for small holes in the enamel of teeth. These are caused by tooth decay and can be prevented with regular brushing and cleanings.
CastA cast of your teeth makes a full size model which dentists use to examine how your teeth fit together, particularly for braces, bridges, and dentures.
CementationBy using a special dental cement, cementing is the process for securing crowns and fixing teeth.
CentralThe teeth in the very center of your mouth, two on the top and two on the bottom.
ChlorhexidineThis antimicrobial agent protects gums from gum disease and can be used in many forms, including gels and liquid rinses.
ClaspOn removable dentures, this is metal arm that connects to natural teeth in order to anchor it in place.
Cold SoreA small, often painful ulcer found around the mouth. They are a form of the herpes simplex virus.
CompositeComposites are a white filler that mimics the look of natural teeth when used in restorative dentistry.
Cross-BiteWhen the lower teeth align more toward cheeks and lips, rather than the upper teeth, it is called a cross bite.
CrownCrowns are a covering placed over an existing tooth that has been filed down to fit the crown. They are used to restore function or strengthen damaged teeth.
CurettageThis is the term for a dental procedure where the gums are scraped in order to remove bacterial buildup.
CuspalThe part of certain teeth (cuspids, bicuspids, and molars) that is designed to chew or tear food.
CuspidAlso known as canines, these are the longest teeth in your mouth, located third from the center in both the upper and lower jaw.
DecayTeeth become soft and damaged as a result of decay, which is caused by bacteria demineralizing the teeth.
DecalcificationWhen teeth lose calcium, they are more prone to decay and damage. Decalcification is the loss of calcium in your teeth over time.
Deciduous TeethAlso known as primary or baby teeth, these are the teeth that first come in, usually around 4-7 months old.
DentistryDentistry encompasses the entire medical branch dedicated to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of teeth gums, and other oral structures.
DentinBelow the enamel (outer shell) of a tooth is the dentin, which is made from calcium and houses the pulp chamber and root canals.
DentitionThis is the total count of all the teeth in both the upper and lower jaw, as well as the position and types of teeth.
DentureA dental implant that comprises an artificial structure used to replace several or all missing teeth. Dentures vary based on need for every patient.
DenturistA person who specializes in constructing dentures. They usually are not qualified to diagnose or treat any dental issues, outside of constructing the dentures.
DesensitizationThis is the term used to describe the loss of feeling in the mouth, often as a result of anesthetics.
DiagnosisThis is the term for identifying dental diseases and conditions.
DiastemaDiastema is the space found between two adjacent teeth. It is also known as interproximal space.
DistalDescribing the direction away from the center of the jaw. For example, molars are distal from the centrals (they are further back in the mouth, away from the center).
EdentulousWhen a person is lacking all of their teeth, they are said to be edentulous.
EnamelThe hard outer portion of your teeth. It is similar to ceramic, and must be taken care of to prevent decay.
EndodonticsA specific part of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of issues related to the dental pulp located inside your teeth.
Erupt, EruptionAn eruption is the appearance of a tooth inside the mouth. A tooth erupts from the gums when it breaks through the surface of the gums.
ExcisionThe process of physically removing something by cutting it off.
ExfoliateWhen your deciduous or primary teeth fall out naturally, it is said that they exfoliate.
ExtraoralAnything dental related pertaining to the outside of your mouth is considered extraoral.
ExtrudedAn extruded tooth is one that has been partially pushed out of its socket.
FillingFillings are made from different materials and are placed inside of a damaged tooth to restore functionality and appearance of the tooth.
First BicuspidThe teeth that are just after the cuspids, or canines, heading away from the center of the jaw. Cuspids have two cuspals, or tearing points.
First MolarThe teeth just beyond the second bicuspid, heading away from the center of the jaw. These teeth have a level surface with four cuspals, or tearing points.
FlipperWhile waiting for a permanent treatment for missing teeth, a flipper may be used as a temporary replacement for missing teeth, often until dentures or a bridge can be constructed.
FlossA thin roll of plastic thread used to clean the areas between teeth. Floss is more effective for cleaning between teeth than regular brushing.
Fluoride TreatmentA treatment used to remineralize teeth. The treatment uses a fluoride gel or rinse to coat teeth and protect them from tooth decay.
FractureIf the cusp of a tooth becomes weakened, it can crack or fracture. This fracture may even reach deep into the tooth and damage the pulp.
FrameworkRemovable partial dentures need a metal framework to maintain their shape and placement when inside your mouth. The framework holds all false teeth and attachments.
FrenumThis is a small connective tissue that connects your tongue, cheeks, and lips to your mouth. It is usually pink colored and can easily be seen when lifting your tongue up.
GingivaeThis is the more scientific term for your gums.
Gingival HypertrophyCaused by poor oral hygiene, this is a medical condition where the gums become abnormally large or inflamed in the mouth.
GingivitisThe first sign of periodontal (gum) disease, the main symptoms are inflamed or bleeding gums. This is caused by poor oral hygiene.
GumsYour gums are the pink mounds in which your teeth sit. Under normal conditions, they will feel firm, but slippery.
HemorrhageA hemorrhage is the scientific term for bleeding.
HemostasisHemostasis is the active procedure to cease bleeding.
Impacted ToothAn impacted tooth has become stuck inside the gums and never fully erupted through the gum line. It may be due to trauma or a result of misaligned teeth.
ImplantAn implant is a permanent false tooth that has been added to your jaw to replace a lost or severely damaged tooth. It is secured using a screw-like fastener.
ImpressionA jelly-like substance in a tray that you bite down on to make an imprint of your teeth. From this, a mold can be created to make a cast of your teeth.
IncisalThis is the cutting edge of your front teeth.
IncisorEncompassing both your centrals and laterals, the incisors are the four centermost teeth in both the upper and lower jaw.
InlayA tooth restoration that is made from gold, composite, or ceramic, inlays are cemented onto a tooth to restore the natural function and look of a damaged tooth.
InterproximalAlso called diastema, this is the space located between two adjacent teeth.
IntraoralAnything dental related that pertains to the inside of your mouth is considered intraoral. This includes braces, bridges, rubber dams, and the like.
IrrigationThis is a technique using liquids or gels in a solution to flush out debris from inside the mouth, often in hard to reach places.
LabialIn reference to the front teeth, this is the side of teeth that faces your lips.
LateralThe second tooth from the center of your jaw. These teeth lie between your centrals and canines and are part of your incisors.
LingualIn reference to all of your teeth, this is the side of teeth that faces into your mouth, toward your tongue.
MandibleThis is the term for your lower jaw.
MandibularAnything that has to do with your lower jaw is considered mandibular.
MaxillaThis is the term for your upper jaw.
MaxillaryAnything that has to do with your upper jaw is considered maxillary.
MesialThis is the side of teeth that faces toward the center of your jaw.
Mixed DentitionWhen there are both primary or deciduous teeth mixed with permanent adult teeth, it is called mixed dentition.
MolarThese are the last three teeth in your mouth from the center in both the upper and lower jaw. They are primarily for grinding food.
MouthguardThis is a protective device, often used to protect the teeth, cheeks, and tongue from injury while playing sports.
NightguardA special mouthguard that is designed for use while the wearer is asleep. It protects the wearer’s teeth from damage from bruxism or night grinding.
Numerical Notation for TeethA numbering system for teeth, designating centrals as #1, laterals as #2, cuspids as #3, first bicuspids as #4, and so on.
OcclusalThis is the chewing and grinding surface of bicuspids and molars.
Occlusal PlaneThis is an imaginary surface or line where the upper and lower and teeth meet.
Occlusal RadiographA type of x-ray where the patient bites down on a large piece of x-ray film while the x-ray machine takes a photo from above your nose or under your chin.
OcclusionThe way your upper and lower teeth fit together inside your mouth is called occlusion.
OnlayAn onlay is a restorative covering for the entire biting surface of a tooth.
Open BiteWhen the upper and lower teeth are unable to touch when your mouth is closed as far as it can go, it is called an open bite.
OralAnything that has to do with the mouth.
OrthodonticsA specific branch of dentistry that covers the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of bite or facial abnormalities.
OsteoblastsOsteoblasts are cells which help the growth and development of teeth and bones.
OsteoclastsOsteoclasts are cells which form the sockets in bones. These sockets hold the teeth in place within your jaw.
OverbiteWhen your upper teeth protrude beyond your lower teeth while your mouth is closed, it is an overbite.
OverhangA portion of a filling that extends beyond the border of a cavity is an overhang.
PalateThis is the roof of your mouth.
Panoramic RadiographA type of x-ray that shows the entire mouth at once, specifically to show the structures in the upper and lower jaw.
PerforationWhenever there is an unnatural opening in a tooth or other oral structure, like a fracture or tear, it is considered a perforation.
PeriapicalThis is the area surrounding the bottom of the root on a tooth.
PeriodontalAnything that pertains specifically to your gums is considered periodontal.
PeriodonticsA specific branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gum-related diseases and conditions.
Permanent TeethAlso called secondary or adult teeth, these teeth usually start coming in around the age of 6, and will replace primary teeth that have fallen out.
PinA piece of metal that is used to securely fasten a filling, keeping it in place more effectively.
PlaqueWhen you don’t brush and floss often/well enough, this sticky film builds up on your teeth. The film contains bacteria which causes tooth decay.
PolishA process used to make a tooth, filling, or denture appear smooth and glossy.
PonticThe false tooth at the center of a bridge or a denture that replaces a tooth that had been knocked out or removed.
PostSimilar to a pin, but a bit larger, this piece of metal or carbon is used to support a large structure on a single tooth.
PosteriorThis term refers to a rear view or the back part of your mouth.
Posterior TeethThe teeth in the back of your mouth, specifically the bicuspids and molars are your posterior teeth.
Pre-AuthorizationAn approval, often by an insurance company, to carry out a treatment on a patient.
Pre-MedicationAny medication taken before a treatment, usually aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, that will aid with discomfort after the treatment.
PremolarAlso called bicuspids, these are the two teeth located before the molars, closer to the center of the jaw.
PrescriptionA written statement from a doctor or dentist to a pharmacist authorizing the use of a specific type, dosage, and direction of usage of medication.
Primary TeethAlso known as baby teeth or deciduous teeth, these teeth appear within the age of 4-7 months old.
Prophylaxis / ProphyThe action or procedure of cleaning and polishing teeth. This actively prevents the onset of many oral diseases.
ProsthesisAn artificial construct used to replace missing teeth and restore function and looks.
ProsthodonticsA branch of dentistry dedicated to the diagnosis, planning, and construction of artificial teeth and associated structures.
ProximalWhile interproximal space is the space between adjacent teeth, a proximal is the point where two adjacent teeth touch.
PulpThe soft filling of a tooth. This area houses the nerves, roots, and blood vessels of a tooth.
Pulp CanalAnother term for the pulp chamber. This area is the very center of a tooth, containing blood vessels and nerves.
Pulp ChamberThis chamber is the core of a tooth. It contains the the blood vessels and nerves for each tooth.
PulpectomyThis is a procedure by which the entire pulp chamber of a tooth is cleaned out, removing all of the pulp, including blood vessels and nerves.
PulpotomyThis procedure removes a portion of the pulp inside a tooth. It is only used if the tooth is not too severely damaged from decay.
QuadrantsThe four major areas inside your mouth; the upper left, lower left, upper right, and lower right.
RadiographThis is the official term for an x-ray photograph.
RecallCommonly called a checkup, this is an appointment where your teeth are inspected and cleaned.
RecementationWhen a prosthesis like a false tooth, denture, or other piece of dental hardware becomes damaged or loosened, and is re-glued into place.
RestorationThis term encompasses several forms of treatment, primarily a filling, crown, bridge, or other piece of hardware that is designed to restore looks and function to the teeth.
RetainerDuring an orthodontic treatment, the retainer keeps all of the teeth in a set position within the jaw so they don’t move around.
RetreatmentIf a root canal treatment is not entirely successful, the retreatment would be a second attempt to ensure none of the damaged root remains.
RootThis is the very bottom bot a tooth. The small hook-like end(s) secure the tooth to the jaw.
Root CanalThis small channel inside the tooth carries the nerves and blood vessels for the tooth. It runs from the root of the tooth up to the pulp chamber.
Root Canal TreatmentThe treatment for a root canal where the pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and all root channels, then filled with an amalgam or composite.
Root PlaningThis is a cleaning of the roots of teeth.
Rubber DamThis small rubber sheet slips over a tooth or a few teeth, and separates them from the rest of the oral cavity, making them easier to work on.
ScalingThis is a specialized cleaning for teeth below the gumline. This is a difficult spot to clean, and should be done regularly to reduce tartar buildup.
SealantOften applied to the tops of molars, this thin gel fills in the grooves and pits of the tooth to help prevent cavities.
Second BicuspidThe fifth tooth from the center, this tooth is used for tearing, just like the first bicuspid. It has two cuspals for tearing through food.
Second MolarThe seventh tooth from the center, these teeth are designed to grind food with four cuspals on a more flat plane than the other teeth.
Secondary TeethAlso known as adult teeth, these are the teeth that start coming in around age 6 and will replace any primary teeth that have fallen out.
SedationThrough the use of gas or IV lines, sedation helps calm a patient to easy fears and keep them relaxed during a procedure.
Space MaintainerThis is a dental appliance consisting of a metal wire and is used to keep a gap between two teeth from closing. They are often used if a primary tooth is removed early.
SplintA firm, rigid implement used to prevent a movable part, like the jaw, in order to prevent damage or the movable part getting in the way during a procedure.
Supernumerary TeethIn some rare cases, people are born with extra teeth. These extra teeth are known as supernumerary teeth.
TartarIf plaque is not cleaned thoroughly and often, it can harden into tartar, also known as calculus.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)This joint is the location where your lower jaw (mandible) connects to your upper jaw (maxilla). It’s also the hinge where your lower jaw pivots to open.
Third MolarThe last tooth from the center of your mouth, this tooth is also called a “wisdom tooth” as they sometimes don’t come in until well after all your other teeth have.
TorusThis is an outgrowth of bone that is usually found in the roof of the mouth or near the premolars on the lower jaw.
Treatment CardThis card tracks when your treatments have been performed, often tracking the progress of particularly long treatments that last several sessions.
Universal Numerical Notation for TeethThe most prominent method for numbering teeth, it begins with the upper right third molar as Tooth #1, continues in order across the upper jaw, then down and across the lower jaw.
VeneerThis is a layer of tooth colored material like porcelain, composite, or ceramics, and attaches to the front of the tooth to improve its appearance.
Wisdom ToothOfficially known as the third molar, this tooth sometimes comes in well after your other teeth, hence being when you are wiser.
XerostomiaThe official term for having a dry mouth.
6 Year MolarAnother term for your first molar.
12 Year MolarAnother term for your second molar.