Definitions Of General Dental Terms



C. Other Dental Terms

Abutment: The teeth on either side of a missing tooth.

Amalgam: A silver/mercury mixture which is used for fillings.

Anatomy: 1) The arrangement of the bones in your skeleton
2) The study of the arrangement of the bones in your skeleton.

Antiseptic: A chemical agent which can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.


Anesthetic: A drug which a doctor or dentist uses to put you, your mouth, or some other part of your body asleep so you do not feel any pain during dental or medical procedures.

Anterior: An adjective used to describe things pertaining to your your Centrals, laterals and cuspids (your front teeth).


Arch: Collectively, either the teeth or the basal bone of either jaw.


Articulator: A special holder for models of your teeth. The articulator holds the models in the same alignment as your jaw so the orthodontist can look carefully at your bite.


Asepsis: The avoidance of potentially pathogenic microorganism. In practice, it refers to those techniques which aims to exclude all microorganisms.


Aspirator: A tube like a straw which the dentist puts in your mouth to suck up all the saliva.

Aspiration: Removal of fluids from your mouth with an aspirator.


Bruxism: Clenching or grinding of your teeth especially at night.


Calculus: A hard deposit that forms when you do not brush your teeth so the plaque hardens. Calculus is also known as tartar.


Caries: Another name for a cavities (tooth decay)


Cavity A small hole in one of your teeth caused by tooth decay.


Cross contamination: Passing bacteria, viruses or AIDS indirectly from one patient to another through the use of improper sterilization procedures, unclean instruments, or "recycling" of orthodontic products.


Crown: 1) An artifacial tooth, 2) an artificial replacement for the covering on a tooth.

Curettage: A periodontal procedure where your gums are scraped to remove bacteria.


Decalcification: The loss of calcium from your teeth. This weakens your teeth and makes them more succeptable to decay.


Denture: A synthetic replacment for all of your teeth in either your upper or your lower jaw.


Diagnosis: the process of identifying the nature of a disorder.


Direct contamination: Direct contact with impurities or germs. (for example by a Patient sneezing on the assistant.)


Disinfection: A cleaning process which destroys of most microorganism, but not highly resistant forms such as bacterial and mycotic spores or the AIDS virus.


Disinfectant: A chemical agent which is applied onto inanimate surfaces, for example chairs, to destroy germs.


Disposable materials: materials intended for one use and discarded. (e.g.: Gloves, paper gowns, cotton rolls, sponges, etc.)


Distal: Behind towards the back of the mouth. For example you might say that the first bicuspid is distal to the cuspid.


Edentulous: Someone is said to be edentulous when all of their teeth are missing from either their upper or lower jaw.


Endodontist (Endo): A dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tips or nerves in your teeth.


Erupt, Eruption: When a new tooth comes in, the tooth is said to erupt when the tooth breaks through the surface of your gums, so you can see the tooth in your mouth.


Exfoliate: to fall out. (Your Deciduous teeth exfoliate and permanent teeth erupt into the space.)


Extraoral: Outside of your mouth. For example, neck pads are said to be extra oral products since they go outside of your mouth.


Filtrum: the dimple or indentation under the nose directly above the upper lip.


Fluoride: A chemical solution or gel which you put on your teeth. The flouride hardens your teeth and prevents tooth decay.


Gingival hypertrophy: The abnormal enlargement of the gingiva surrounding the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene.


Gingivitis: The inflammation of your gums caused by improper brushing. The first sign of periodontal (gum) disease.


Impacted tooth: An unerupted tooth that somehow has gotten stuck and cannot come in.

Implant: A replacement for one of your missing teeth. The implant is different than a bridge in that the implant is permenantly attached into your jaw.


Incisal: The biting edge of your centrals and laterals.


Interproximal: the space between adjacent teeth


Intraoral: Inside your mouth. For example, orthodontic rubber bands are called intraoral products since the rubber bands are designed to go in your mouth.


Irrigation: the technique of using a solution to wash out your mouth and to flush debris.


Labial: The tooth surface next to your lips or things mounted on the tooth surfaces next to your lips.


Lingual: The tooth surface next to your tongue or things mounted on the tooth surfaces next to your tongue.


Mandible: Your lower jaw


Mandibular: Pertaining to your lower jaw


Masticate: To chew your food and mix the food with saliva


Maxilla: Your upper jaw

Maxillary Pertaining to your upper jaw


Mesial: Forward or front. For example your cuspid is mesial to you bicuspid. The mesial surface of your bicuspid is the part of the bicuspid closest to your cuspid.


Midline: A plane through the very center of your mouth perpendicular to your nose.


Mixed dentition: The situation when both deciduous and permanent teeth are present.


Occlusal: the chewing or grinding surface of the bicuspid and molar teeth.


Occlusal plane: the imaginary surface on which upper and lower teeth meet.


Occlusal radiograph: the only x-ray that is taken without a precision(tm) x-ray holder. The x-ray film for this procedure is shaped like a large oatmeal cookie. You are asked to bite on the x-ray film and the top of the x-ray machine is positioned over your nose for a maxillary occlusal x-ray or under your chin for a mandibular occlusal film. The x- ray shows the whole arch.


Oral: pertaining to the mouth.


Osteoblasts: Cells which aid the growth and development of teeth and bones.


Osteoclasts: Cells which help create the sockets in bones. For example osteoclasps create the openings in your jaw bone to hold your teeth.


Pathogens: disease producing organisms that can exist in many different places. (e.g.: Air, dust, counter top surfaces, the body, etc.)


Pathology: the study of abnormal (diseased) tissue conditions.


Pedodontist (Pedo)A dentist who specializes in the treatment of children's teeth.


Periapical: x-ray of individual teeth or groups of teeth.


Periodontist (Perio): A dentist who specializes in the treatment of diseases of your gums.


Plaque: is a colorless, odorless, sticky substance containing acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.


Periodontal: Pertaining to your gums. For example periodontal desiese is gum disease.


Periodontist: A dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease.


Posterior: An adjective used to describe things pertaining to the back of your mouth or your back teeth.


Prophylaxis: Cleaning your teeth


Prosthodontist: A dentist who specializes in the replacement of missing teeth.


Proximal: Refers to the surfaces of teeth that touch the next tooth; the space between adjacent teeth is the interproximal space.


Radiograph: Another name for an x-ray


Root canal: A procedure where the nerve of a heavily decayed tooth is removed from the tooth replaced with a filling material

Sagittal plane: The longitudinal vertical plane that divides the mouth into two halves (left and right.)


Sanitization: A cleaning process which reduces germs to a "safe" level.


Space maintainer: A gadget used to maintain a space in your mouth. You would use a space maintainer when you lose one of your baby teeth. The space maintainer will keep a space in your mouth until a permanent tooth comes in to fill the space.


Sterilization: A process where a medical material is treated to remove all possible germs and other forms of life


Supernumerary teeth: Some people have extra teeth. These are called "supernumerary teeth".


Tartar: Another name for calculus

TMD: Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull..


TMJ: An abbreviation for the "temporomandibular joint" The "temporomandibular joint" is the joint where your lower jaw connects to your skull.


Treatment card: a sheet of paper or special index card used to record your treatment progress.