Dental Dictionary


St. Petersburg Dentist Provides Dental Dictionary

A
abrasion:
loss of tooth structure caused by tooth grinding, an improper bite, a hard toothbrush or poor brushing technique


abscess:
a localized infection of a tooth and/or the gum


abutment:
tooth or teeth that anchor a fixed or removable bridge


air abrasion:
removal of tooth structure by blasting a tooth with air and abrasive, also a relatively new technology in dentistry that often avoids the need for anesthetic


allergy:
an unwanted bodily response to a substance or organism


alveolar bone:
the bone surrounding the roots of teeth


amalgam:
the most common material used for fillings, also called silver fillings; a mixture of mercury (app 50%), silver, tin, copper and zinc used for fillings


analgesia:
partial loss of pain sensation


anesthesia:
absence of pain sensation; numbing a tooth is local anesthesia; with general anesthesia the patient is unconscious


anterior teeth:
the six upper and six lower front teeth


antibiotic:
a drug that stops or slows the growth of germs (bacteria)


ANUG:
an acronym for Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, more commonly known as trench mouth or Vincent’s disease, often brought on by stress and/or smoking


apex:
the tip of the root of a tooth


apicoectomy:
removal of the root end of a tooth to treat an infection


arch :
shape assumed collectively by upper and lower teeth
B
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baby teeth:
the first teeth, also called deciduous teeth; usually there are twenty baby teeth


base:
a cement applied under a filling or crown to decrease sensitivity to heat or cold and protect the filling


biopsy:
removal of a small piece of tissue to determine if it is diseased


bite:
how the upper and lower teeth come together; may also be called occlusion


black hairy tongue:
excessive growth of fungi that normally live in the mouth


block injection:
anesthetizing a nerve that serves a large area of the jaw, usually the lower jaw; may numb teeth, tongue and half of the jaw in that area


bonding:
applying a tooth-colored resin to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth, most often a front tooth


bone loss:
decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth; a common result of gum disease


bone resorption:
the gradual loss of bone Orthodontists use this process to “pull” teeth through bone to new positions.


braces:
devices used by orthodontists to gradually reposition teeth


bridge:
appliance cemented to teeth adjacent to a space that replaces one or more missing teeth; usually cemented or attached to teeth or implants adjacent to the space


bruxism:
involuntary, “nervous” grinding of the teeth while the patient is asleep


bruxomania:
involuntary, “nervous” grinding of the teeth while the patient is awake
C
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calcium:
chemical element needed for healthy teeth, bones and nerves


calculus:
hard residue, ranging from yellow to brown, forming on teeth when oral hygiene is incomplete or improper


canker sore:
whitish, often circular mouth sore lasting ten to fourteen days


cantilever bridge:
fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth on one end only


cap:
common term for crown


caries:
tooth decay or cavities


cavitron:
dental tool that uses high frequency sound waves to clean teeth


cellulitis:
uncontrolled infection causing extensive swelling Since this is a dangerous condition, a dentist or physician should be consulted as soon as possible.


cementum:
hard tissue that covers the roots of teeth


chart:
to measure the depth of the gum pockets around teeth


clasp:
device that retains a removable partial denture


cleaning:
removal of plaque and calculus from teeth, generally above the gumline


composite:
common bonding mix of plastic and glass/ceramic particles; usually cured with light or chemicals


crown:
two meanings: (1)the portion of a tooth covered by enamel, and (2)a restoration that covers all or most of the natural tooth above the gumline


curretage:
removal of dead inner tissue from a gum pocket


cyst:
a fluid-filled sac
D
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decay:
destruction of tooth structure caused by acid produced by bacteria


deciduous teeth:
baby teeth


dentin:
hard, living inner layer of a tooth (the layer immediately under the outer enamel layer)


dental implant:
a (usually) titanium cylinder surgically placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw to replace the root of a missing tooth


dentition:
your teeth and how they are arranged in your mouth


denture:
a removable set of artificial teeth


denturism:
the production and sale of dentures by non-dentists


diastema:
the space between front teeth
E
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enamel:
hard tissue covering the crown (portion above the gumline) of a tooth


endodontist:
a specialist who treats injuries, diseases and infections of the tooth pulp


eruption:
the process whereby teeth grow through the gums


exodontia:
See extraction.


explorer:
a pointed instrument for examining the surfaces of teeth


extraction:
removal of a tooth/teeth


eyeteeth:
the four upper and lower canine or eye teeth
F
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facing:
the visible portion of a crown; may be acrylic, composite or porcelain


filling:
restoring lost tooth structure with metal, alloy, porcelain or resin


fistula:
tunnel conducting pus from one infection to the site of another; a mouth fistula is called a gum boil


flap surgery:
loosening of gums from bone to expose and clean underlying tooth structures


forceps:
instrument used to remove a tooth


full denture:
removable denture replacing all teeth in upper or lower arch


frenectomy:
removal of the frenum, the thin cord of tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum or the tongue to the floor of the mouth
G
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GTR:
(guided tissue regeneration) a new technique for replacing bone tissue lost between roots of teeth


general anesthesia:
a 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:
loss of all usual color and texture of tongue; does not require treatment


gingiva:
the gums


gingivectomy:
removal of gum tissue


gingivitis:
inflammation of gum tissue


gum boil:
See fistula.
H
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halitosis:
bad breath


hydrogen peroxide(H202):
compound used as a dental whitening agent and mouthwash


hyperemia:
dental sensitivity to temperature and sweets; can precede an abscess
I
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impacted tooth:
an unexposed or partially exposed tooth that is so wedged against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue that complete exposure of the tooth is unlikely


implant:
artificial device replacing tooth root; may anchor an artificial tooth, bridge, or denture


incision and drainage:
making an incision in an abscess to drain infection


incisors:
four upper and four lower front teeth, (excludes the canine teeth)


infiltration:
process for numbing the upper teeth (placing anesthetic liquid under the gum tissue and allowing it to migrate into the bone)


inlay:
a filling made by a dental laboratory that is cemented into place, generally requires two dental appointments


intraoral camera:
a tiny TV camera used to view tissues of the mouth (owned by approximately 50 percent of U S dentists
J
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jacket:
crown for a front tooth, usually made of porcelain
L
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laminate:
thin plastic or porcelain veneer produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to a tooth to improve its appearance


laughing gas:
common name for nitrous oxide; used to reduce anxieties and relax patients


local anesthesia:
elimination of the sensation of pain, in one part of the body by the surface application or regional injection of an anesthetic drug
M
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malocclusion:
“bad bite” or misalignment between the upper and lower teeth


managed care:
program whereby patient-dentist assignment and dentist reimbursement are administered by a separate, external organization


mandible:
the lower jaw


margin:
point of contact between a restoration and the tooth


Maryland bridge:
a bridge that is bonded or cemented only to the backs of the adjacent teeth


maxilla:
the upper jaw


milk teeth:
the baby teeth


molars:
the twelve back teeth in the entire mouth (or the three back teeth in each fourth of the mouth if the wisdom teeth are in)


N
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nerve:
common term for tooth pulp which is the sensitive innermost portion of a tooth


nightguard:
plastic device that covers all of the upper or lower teeth; used to prevent wear caused by tooth grinding during sleep


nitrous oxide:
a gas used to reduce patient anxiety


Novocain:
older brand name for a local anesthetic
O
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occlusion:
how the upper and lower teeth come together


onlay:
laboratory-produced restoration covering the cusps of a tooth


oral and maxillofacial surgeon:
a specialist who deals with the diagnosis & surgical treatment of diseases, injuries, and deformities of the mouth and supporting structures. Generally requires four additional years of training after dental school


oral cavity:
the mouth


oral hygiene:
the process of maintaining the cleanliness of the mouth


oral surgery:
operations on the mouth; for example, extractions, removal of cysts or tumors, and repair of broken jaw bone


orthodontics:
dental specialty that treats misalignment of teeth


overdenture:
denture that fits over tooth roots or dental implants
P
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palliative treatment:
treatment that is designed primarily to reduce or eliminate pain


parasthesia:
loss of sensation in part of the body


partial:
removable denture replacing some of the teeth


pedodontics:
dental specialty focusing on treatment of children


periodontist:
a specialist who treats the gums and supporting structures of the teeth


permanent teeth:
the thirty-two adult teeth


pit:
a small defect in the tooth enamel, usually found on the back teeth


placebo:
a treatment that works because of the patient’s belief in it, not because of the actual physical change it produces


plaque:
a soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth; composed largely of bacteria and food substances suspended in saliva


pontic:
a false tooth mounted on a bridge


porcelain crowns:
a porcelain cap which covers the crown (that portion above the gumline) of the tooth to repair it or change the shape and/or color


porcelain inlay or onlay:
a tooth-colored filling, made of porcelain


porcelain veneers:
a thin layer of porcelain bonded to the front and top of a front tooth to repair or change the color and/or shape


post:
a thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy; provides retention for a “core” which is a buildup of material that replaces the lost tooth structure


post-core:
a post and a buildup of material that replaces the lost tooth structure


post-crown:
single structure that combines post-core and crown


prognosis:
the probable outcome of treatment


prophylaxis:
procedure for preserving the health and preventing infection of teeth


prosthesis:
an artificial replacement for a body part


prosthodontist:
a dentist who specializes in restoring teeth, replacing missing teeth with bridges and dentures, and maintaining proper occlusion


pulp:
the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue inside a tooth


pulp cap:
a medicated covering over a small area of exposed pulp


pulp chamber:
the center or innermost portion of the tooth containing the pulp


pulpectomy:
total removal of the pulp in children’s teeth


pulpitis:
inflammation of the pulp; a common cause of a toothache


pulpotomy:
partial removal of the pulp


pyorrhea:
common term for gum disease
R
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reimplantation:
return to mouth of tooth/teeth lost through trauma


reline:
plastic buildup of denture to compensate for bone loss (usually accomplished in conjunction with a dental laboratory)


restoration:
the replacement part or portion restored on a damaged tooth


retainedroot:
root remaining in jaw after tooth is extracted or broken off


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 root of a tooth while retaining the crown


rubber dam:
soft latex sheet used to protect one or more teeth from moisture and to keep materials from falling to the back of the throat
S
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saliva:
clear 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:
meticulous removal of plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces


sealants:
plastic material bonded in the grooves and pits of back teeth for the prevention of decay


secondary dentin:
produced by the pulp in response to tooth irritation


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:
to connect two or more teeth so they function as a stronger single structure


supernumerary tooth:
extra tooth


T
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tartar:
also called calculus, a hard deposit containing bacteria and minerals that adheres to teeth


tmd:
temperomandibular disorder; term given to condition characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open/move the jaw


tmj:
the temporomandibular joint, the point where the lower jaw attaches to the upper jaw


tmj disorder:
term given to condition characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open/move the jaw


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 process to lighten the color of teeth


torus:
common bony growth on the palate or lower jaw


transplant:
placing a natural tooth in the empty socket of another tooth


trauma:
injury caused by a blow, chemicals, temperature extremes, or poor tooth alignment


trench mouth:
gum disease characterized by severe mouth sores and loss of tissue. See ANUG.
U
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unerupted tooth:
a tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct position in the jaw
V
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veneer:
plastic or porcelain facing bonded directly to a tooth to improve its appearance. See laminate.
W
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wisdom teeth:
the third set of molars that usually erupt when a person is 18-25 years of age
X
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xerostomia:
decrease in production of saliva
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