Dental Glossary

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-A-

Abscess - infection caused by severe tooth decay, trauma or gum disease
Amalgam - a silver and mercury material used for fillings
Anesthetic - a drug used by your doctor to eliminate a patient's localized pain during certain dental procedures
Anterior - the teeth in the front of your mouth
Antiseptic - an agent that can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs
Apex - the very tip of the root of a tooth
Aspirator - a suction device your dentist uses to remove saliva from your mouth

-B-

Bleaching Agent - a gel used to whiten and brighten teeth
Bonding - a plastic composite painted on the teeth to correct stains or damage
Bridge - one or more artificial teeth attached to your adjacent teeth
Bruxism - the clenching or grinding of teeth, most commonly while sleeping

-C-

Calculus - the hardened plaque that can form on neglected or prone teeth, commonly known as tartar
Canine - the pointy teeth just behind the laterals
Caries - another name for cavities or decayed teeth
Cavity - a tiny hole in the tooth caused by decay
Central - the two upper and two lower teeth in the center of the mouth
Crown - an artificial tooth or cover made of porcelain or metal
Cuspid - the pointy teeth just behind the laterals, also known as canines

-D-

Decalcification - the loss of calcium from the teeth
Deciduous Teeth - also called "baby teeth”
Dental Implants - an implant is attached to the jawbone that replaces a missing tooth or teeth
Denture - a removable set of artificial teeth

-E-

Enamel - the hard surface of the tooth above the gum line
Endodontist - a dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases and infections of the dental pulp (inner tooth)
Extraction - the removal of a tooth or teeth

-F-

Filling - a plug made of metal or composite material used to fill a tooth cavity
Fluoride - a chemical solution used to harden teeth and prevent decay

-G-

Gingivitis - inflammation of gums around the roots of the teeth
Gums - the firm flesh that surrounds the roots of the teeth

-I-

Impacted Tooth - often occurring with wisdom teeth, it is a tooth that sits sideways below the gum line, often requiring extraction
Incisal - related to incisors (see below)
Incisor - one of the flat, sharp-edged teeth in the front of the mouth
Inlays - a custom-made filling cemented into an unhealthy tooth
Instant Orthodontics - alternative to braces using bonded porcelain veneers or crowns

-L-

Lateral - these are the teeth adjacent to the centrals

-N-

Night Guard - a plastic mouthpiece worn at night to prevent grinding of the teeth. Often used to treat TMJ

-P-

Pedontist - also known as a pediatric dentist, a dentist that specializes in the treatment of children's teeth
Periodontist - a dentist specializing in the treatment of gum disease
Plaque - a sticky buildup of acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay
Posterior Teeth - the teeth in the back of the mouth
Primary Teeth - also known as "baby teeth" or deciduous teeth
Prosthodontist - a dentist specializing in the restoration and replacement of missing teeth or severely damaged teeth

-R-

Root - the portion of the tooth below your gum line
Root Canal - cleaning out and filling the inside nerve of a tooth that is heavily decayed

-S-

Sealant - plastic coating applied to teeth to prevent decay. Used most commonly for children
Secondary Teeth - the permanent teeth
Six-Year Molar - commonly known as "the first molar"
Sleep Apnea - a potentially serious disorder in which a sleeping person may stop breathing for 10 seconds or more, often continuously throughout the night

-T-

Tartar - see calculus
TMJ Syndrome - a disorder associated with the joint of the jaw, often caused by a misalignment of or a disparity in upper and lower jaw sizes.
Tooth Whitening - a process designed to whiten and brighten teeth
Twelve-Year Molar - commonly known as "the second molar"

-V-

Veneer - a plastic, porcelain or composite material used to improve the attractiveness of a stained or damaged tooth