Glossary

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

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: Cosmetic dentistry are 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

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: An implant is an 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: A night guard is an 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

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: 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: The wisdom teeth are the third (last) molars that usually erupt at age 18-25 (when “wisdom is attained”)

Xerostomia: dry mouth or decrease in the production of saliva

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