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Glossary of Dental Terms


An infection in a tooth, often accompanied by swelling and inflammation.



Tooth or tooth root that supports or stabilizes a bridge, denture, or other prosthetic appliance.


Adhesive Dentistry

Process in which composite resin is adhered to the existing enamel of a tooth. This can be used to repair or improve the appearance of a tooth.



An abnormal reaction of the body to a drug or foreign substance.



General or local insensibility to pain, induced by certain interventions or drugs to permit the performance of surgery or other painful procedures.


Anterior Teeth

The six upper and lower front teeth. These consist of incisors and cuspids.


Bicuspid or pre-molar

Any of eight teeth located in pairs on each side of the upper and lower jaws between the cuspids and molars.



A procedure for restoring the discolored or damaged surface of a tooth by coating it with composite resin that adheres to the existing enamel.



An artificial replacement of a missing tooth or teeth, attached by cement or composite resin to natural teeth or roots adjacent to the space.



1.             The part of a tooth that is covered by enamel and not covered by gum tissue.

2.             An artificial substitute, as of gold or porcelain, which entirely covers the anatomical crown of a tooth


Cuspid or canine

The four pointed or conical teeth also commonly known as ‘eyeteeth’.



Doctor of Dental Surgery



Hard tissue that forms the inner layer of the structure of a tooth and is situated beneath the surface enamel


Dental implant

A metal screw (often titanium) that is surgically anchored in the gums or jawbone to support a dental appliance or replace a missing tooth.



An artificial replacement of some or all of the natural teeth


Disease of the gums

Periodontal disease (also called “Gum Disease” or “Periodontal Disease”) involves bacterial growth (a colorless film, called “plaque”) that gradually destroys the tissue surrounding the teeth. If not removed, plaque builds up on the teeth and ultimately irritates the gums and causes bleeding. If left untreated, bone and surrounding tissue will decay, resulting in loose teeth, or worse, tooth loss. More than 75 percent of Americans over 35 have some form of gum disease.



Doctor of Dental Medicine



The hard layer covering of the crown of a tooth.



The area of dentistry concerned with the treatment of the dental pulp or nerve of the tooth.



Endodontists are dentists who have additionally 2-3 years of training following dental school and typically limit their practice to root canal therapy and root canal surgery. Very often Endodontists earn a graduate degree (Master’s degree) as well as specialized certified training. While some Dentists perform root canals themselves, generally Dentists will refer a patient requiring Endodontics to a trained Endodontist.



A substance, such as metal, porcelain or resin, that is used to replace lost tooth structured caused by decay.



Inflammation of the gums.



Bad breath



The four front teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.



Faulty contact between the upper and lower teeth, causing these teeth to be misaligned.



The lower jaw



The upper jaw



Teeth for grinding food, located in the back of the mouth on either side.


Nerve (root) canal

Hollow passage inside of a tooth, inhabited by nerve tissue.


Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Surgery to correct a wide spectrum of diseases or injuries upper jaw or face.


Oral Surgeon

An Oral Surgeon (“Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon” or OMFS) first receive their training in dentistry and then continue further specialization in treating the areas of the mouth, jaws and the face as well as associated structures. While Oral Surgeons often additionally go on to study medicine and may go so far to take a Medical Degree (MD), a medical degree is not required for an OMFS to practice. Oral & maxillofacial surgery is universally recognized as a one of the nine specialties of dentistry.



Orthodontics is an area of dentistry that involved the treatment of improper bites (“malocclusions”) making use of a variety of devises, most commonly, braces, to move teeth or adjust underlying bone. The word comes from the Greek words ortho meaning straight and odons meaning tooth.



Orthodontists first complete 4 years of dental school training (DDS). Orthodontists additionally complete 2-3 of residency training focused on the specific treatment and realignment of misaligned teeth with devises including braces, retainers and other methods.



Condition in which the upper incisors overlap the lower ones.


Pediatric Dentistry

The practice of dentistry on children.


Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric Dentists (or Pediodontists) study an additional 2 years in a residency program following their graduation from dental school. As specified by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Pediatric Dentists study advanced diagnostic and surgical procedures, along with child psychology and clinical management, oral pathology, child-related pharmacology, radiology, child development, management of oral/facial trauma, care for patients with special needs, conscious sedation and general anesthesia.



Periodontists typically study for an additional 3 years following dental school. During their clinical training, Periodontists are involved in learning both the treatment, as well as prevention techniques for periodontal diseases. Periodontists may also study advanced surgical techniques such as periodontal plastic surgery, and dental implant placement.According to the American Academy of Periodontology there are currently 52 institutions offer advanced training programs in periodontics in the United States


Periodontal Disease(also known as Periodontics)

Periodontal disease, also called “gum disease”, involves bacterial growth (a colorless film, called “plaque”) that gradually destroys the tissue surrounding the teeth. When plaque builds up on the teeth, it can result in gum irritation and possibly bleeding. If left untreated, bone and surrounding tissue will decay, resulting in loose teeth, or worse, tooth loss



Deposit of saliva, food and bacteria that accumulates on the teeth in the from of a whitish, sticky substance.



The area of dentistry that deals with the replacement of missing teeth or jaw structures by bridges, dentures, or other artificial devices.



Specialist who must complete dental training (DDS) and then continue for an additional 3 years of specialty training in the area of prosthodontics (i.e. implants, esthetic and reconstructive dentistry). Cosmetic dentistry, implants and joint problems all fall under the field of prosthodontics



The embedded portion of a tooth that connects it to the jaw.


Root Canal

The space inside the root of the tooth. This space contains the pulp.

Also, this is the term commonly used for root canal therapy, a procedure in which the nerve and tissues are removed from the canal and replaced with filling material.



Means of securing one or more loose teeth to one or more healthy, secure teeth.




Calculus on the teeth; a hard, yellowish substance that attracts plaque.



Temporomandibular joint syndrome and TMJ joint disorders are medical problems related to the jaw joint. The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the skull.



A thin layer of plastic or porcelain applied to the outside of the tooth for aesthetic purposes.


Wisdom Teeth

Third molars; the last teeth to appear in the mouth. These teeth usually appear between the ages of 18 and 25. They are so called because they appear later in life when a person is physically mature.


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