Dental Terminology

Abscess — A collection of pus. Usually forms because of infection.

Abutment — A tooth or tooth structure which is responsible for the anchorage of a bridge or a denture.

Amalgam — A silver filling material.

Anesthetic — An agent that causes temporary loss of sensation/feeling.

Anterior — The front position.

Apex — The end of the root.

Asepsis — No micro-organism.

Attrition — Wear of teeth due to activities such as chewing.

Bitewing — A kind of dental x-ray which is taken with the teeth coming together. The main function of this kind of x-ray is to detect cavities in between teeth and measure the height of bone support.

Bleaching — Whitening of teeth.

Bridge — A prosthesis which is fixed inside the mouth to replace missing teeth.

Canine — The third tooth from the middle of the jaw. There are four of them. They are the longest teeth in humans.

Canker sore — An ulceration with yellow base and red border in mouth. It can be caused by trauma or herpes simplex virus.

Cavity — A hole on the tooth.

Cast — A model of teeth.

Cementation – The process of “gluing” the appliance/prosthesis on the associated area.

Chlorhexidine — An anti-microbial agent. It is available in many forms such as gels and rinses. It is an effective agent in controlling gum diseases.

Clasp — A metal arm extended from a removable partial denture. It helps to hold onto natural tooth structure and thus provide anchorage for the denture.

Composite — White filling.

Cross-bite — An abnormal bite relationship of upper and lower jaw. The lower teeth/tooth align toward the check/ lip side more than the upper teeth/tooth.


Crown (porcelain/plastic/metal)
— A crown is almost like a “cap” on a tooth. It covers the tooth partially or totally above the gum to restore its function and outlook.

Decay — The rotten part of the tooth.

Dentition — The position, type, and number of teeth in upper and lower jaw.

Denture (Immediate/complete/partial) (overdenture, temporary) — An artificial object to replace missing teeth and their neighboring structures. There are many different types of denture to satisfy different treatment requirements and patient preferences.

Desensitization —  A procedure to reduce the sensitivity of teeth.

Diagnosis — The process of identifying dental disease.

Diastema — The space between two adjacent teeth.

Distal — A direction indication in the mouth. It indicates the direction away from the middle of the jaw.

Edentulous — No teeth.

Endodontics — A department of dentistry involving diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental pulp (where the nerves and blood vessels are inside the tooth).

Eruption — The process of the tooth appearing in the mouth.

Excision — The action of cutting something off.

Extruded — When a tooth may be pushed partially out of the socket.

Filling — A restoration placed on a tooth to restore its function and appearance.

Floss — A thread/tape that goes in between teeth for cleaning.

Fluoride — A compound of fluorine (an element) which be put in different forms such as water, gels, and rinses to strengthen teeth.

Fluoride Treatment —Teeth treatment with fluoride agents like gel or rinse. It helps to prevent tooth decay.

Fracture — When a cusp of a tooth becomes weakened, a fracture may result. It is possible for the crack to extend further into the root and damage to the pulp is commonplace.

Framework — A metal skeleton of a removable partial denture to support the false teeth and the plastic attachments.

Gingivitis — The mildest form of gum disease: inflammation of gum. The earliest sign is bleeding gum.

Hemorrhage — Bleeding.

Homeostasis — Stop bleeding.

Impaction — A condition where a tooth is not able to come in normally or is stuck underneath another tooth or bone.

Implant — A device (usually “screw-like”) put in the jaw bone to support a false tooth, a denture or a bridge.

Impression — A mold taken by some jelly-like material loaded on a tray.

Incisal — The cutting edge of front teeth.

Incisor — The four upper and lower front teeth.

Inlay — A restoration (usually gold, composite or ceramics) fabricated in the lab that cements on a tooth like a missing puzzle piece. It helps to restore the normal function and outlook of the tooth.

Interproximal —The space between two adjacent teeth.


Lingua
l — The side of the tooth towards the tongue.


Mesial
— The side of the tooth towards the middle of the jaw.


Molar
— The last three upper and lower teeth on both sides of the mouth.


Mouthguard
 — A device to be worn in the mouth. Depending on the design of it, it prevents injury to teeth and/or jaw during teeth grinding or sport events.

Nightguard — A mouthguard which is worn at night time.


Occlusal
— The biting surface of the back teeth.


Occlusion
— The way how the upper and lower teeth close together.


Onlay
— A restoration covers the entire biting surface of a tooth.


Open bite
— The situation where the upper teeth not able to contact the opposing lower teeth.


Orthodontics
— A special field in dentistry which involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of bite abnormalities or facial irregularities.


Over bite
— The overlap of upper teeth and lower teeth when they close together.


Overhang
— The portion of filling material that hangs beyond the border of the cavity.


Palate
— The roof of the mouth.


Perforation
— An opening on a tooth or other oral structure.


Periapical
— The surrounding of the bottom of the root of a tooth.


Periodontics
— A specialty of dentistry involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of gum (periodontal) disease.


Permanent teeth
— Adult teeth. The first permanent tooth usually comes in around 6 years old.


Pin
— A piece of “nail-like” metal. It usually is used for better retention of a filling.


Polish
— A process to make the tooth or filling or other denture smooth and glossy.


Pontic
— The false tooth in a bridge or denture to replace the missing tooth.


Post
— A big pin which can be made with different materials such as metal or carbon. Its function usually is to support a big buildup on a tooth.

Posterior — Located at the back.


Pre-authorization
— An approval from the particular authority (usually insurance company in dentistry) before any action (treatment) is carried out.

Pre-medication — Medication needing to be taken before treatment.


Premolar
— The two teeth located in front of the molar.

Primary teeth — Baby teeth.


Prophylaxis/prophy
— The procedure of teeth polishing. It also means the prevention of diseases.


Prosthesis
— An artificial part to replace missing teeth and their associated structures.


Prosthodontics
 — A specialty of dentistry involving diagnosis, treatment planning, and fabrication of artificial parts to replace missing teeth and their associated structures.


Pulp
— The innermost part of a tooth. It contains nerves and blood vessels inside a tooth.


Pulpectomy
— The removal of the whole pulp inside a tooth.


Pulpotomy
— The removal of the top part of the pulp inside a tooth.


Radiograph
— An x-ray picture.


Recall
— The regular checkup and teeth cleaning appointment.


Recementation
— The process of “gluing” the appliance/prosthesis back on the associated area.


Restoration
— An item a dentist uses to restore the normal function of a tooth or an area in the mouth. It can be a filling, a crown, a bridge, etc.


Retainer
— A device used for maintaining the position of teeth in the jaw in orthodontic treatment.


Retreatment
— The process of repeating the root canal treatment.


Root
— The bottom part of tooth. It anchors the tooth to its supporting units.


Root canal
— The canal that runs inside the root of the tooth. It contains the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth.


Root canal treatment
— A treatment for the root canal inside the tooth.


Root planing
— The action of cleaning the root area of teeth.


Rubber dam
— A rubber sheet that fits around teeth. It isolates the treatment area from the rest of the oral cavity.


Scaling
— The action of cleaning teeth below the gumline.


Sealant
— A thin layer of plastic-like material covering the grooves and pits on a tooth to prevent cavity.


Sedation
— The use of medication to calm a patient.


Space Maintainer
— An appliance to maintain the space between teeth.


Splint
— An appliance or a material to prevent movement of a mobile part.


Tempromandibular Joint (TMJ)
— The joint that links the two parts of the jaw.


Torus
— An outgrowth of bone. It usually develops on the roof of the mouth or around the premolar area on the lower jaw.


Veneer
— A layer of tooth-colored material (can be porcelain, composite, or ceramics) that attaches to the front of the tooth. It is usually used to improve the appearance of the tooth.


Wisdom tooth
— The eighth (also the last) tooth from the middle of the jaw.

Xerostomia — Dry mouth.