Dental Glossary

-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 incisors

-N-

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

-O-

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by obstruction of the upper airway. Click here to read more
Oral Appliances – Properly fitted oral appliances are often effective in the treating mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

-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