Abfraction Loss of tooth substance at the cervical areas of teeth caused by tensile and compressive forces during tooth flexure.
Cervical erosive lesions that can not be attributed to any particular cause.

Abrasion The abnormal wearing away of tooth substance by a mechanical process.

Abcess Acute or chronic, localized inflammation, with a collection of pus, associated with tissue destruction and, frequently,
swelling, usually secondary to infection.

AbutmentA tooth or implant used to support a prosthesis.

Acid Etching The use of an acidic chemical substance to prepare the tooth enamel and or dentin surface to provide retention for
bonding of restorations such as tooth colored fillings, inlays, onlays, veneers.

Acrylic Resin Plastic materials used in the fabrication of dentures and temporary crowns.

Acute Pulpitis An inflammation of the pulp caused by injury to the pulp, usually from dental caries or trauma.

Adhesive Dentistry Contemporary term for dental restorations that involve bonding of composite resin or porcelain fillings to natural teeth.

Air Abrasion The tiny particles of aluminum oxide blasted in a stream of water at the tooth to remove the decayed debris and ruined enamel from cavities.

Alveolar Bone The bone which surrounds the root of the tooth, holding it in place. Loss of this bone is typically associated with severe periodontal disease. This bone also resorb after the loss of a tooth.

Amalgam The silver filling material used primarily in posterior teeth. It consists of a metal alloy of silver, tin, zinc and copper combined with mercury.

Amalgam Tattoo Oral soft tissue discolorations due to amalgam most common pigmentation of the oral cavity.

Anatomical Crown The portion of tooth normally covered by, and including, enamel.

Analgesia Loss of pain sensation without loss of consciousness.

Anesthesia Absence of pain sensation. Numbing a tooth is local anesthesia. With general anesthesia the patient is unconscious.

Ankylosis Stiffness of a joint, usually as a result of injury or disease

Anterior Teeth The front teeth (incisors and canines).

Antibiotic A medication that prevents or slows bacterial growth.

ANUG Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis. Acute, painful condition occurring primarily in the anterior teeth, characterized by severe gingival redness, heavy plaque, spontaneous bleeding, foul breath and pain. This is usually brought on by smoking or stress.

Apex The tip or root end of the tooth

Apicectomy Surgical removal of the apex or tip of a root in order to remove diseased tissue.

Articulation The relationship formed by the contact and grinding movement of the biting and chewing (occlusal) surfaces of the teeth.

Asymptomatic No clinical symptoms of the disease in question.

Attachment A mechanical device for the fixation, retention and stabilization of a dental prosthesis.

Attrition Loss of tooth structure due to mechanical action of chewing.

Avulsion Separation of tooth from its socket due to trauma.


Bells Palsy Paralysis of the facial nerve resulting in the permanent or temporary immobilization of the eye on either side of the face.
Usually caused by injury or infection.

Bicuspid A premolar tooth. A tooth with two cusps.

Biopsy Process or removing tissue for histologic evaluation.

Bite (Occlusion) The relationship of the upper and lower teeth when closed together.

Biteplate See Occlusal Appliance.

Bitewing X-rays X-rays that show both the upper and lower teeth in one view, generally used to detect decay.

Block Injection anesthetizing a nerve that serves a large area of the jaw, usually the lower jaw. This may numb teeth, tongue and half of the jaw in that area.

Bleaching (Tooth Whitening) The whitening of natural teeth through chemical or laser treatment.

Bonding Adhesive dental restoration technique. A tooth-colored composite resin to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth.

Bone Augmentation The placement of autogenous or alloplastic materials to correct bony insufficiencies.

Bone Resorption (Bone Loss) A decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth, generally caused by periodontal disease or following the loss of a tooth.

Braces The devices used by orthodontists to gradually reposition teeth.

Bridge The prosthetic (false) teeth or row of teeth that spans between two natural teeth (Abutments) A bridge is cemented in place permanently.

British Dental Association (BDA) A national professional association for dentists.

Bruxism A habit related to stress or a sleep disorder, characterized by grinding ones teeth.

Buccal This is the technical term for the cheek, and is also used to refer to the cheek side of tooth surfaces. Technically, this term is used to describe the cheek surfaces of the posterior teeth, but is also used to describe the cheek surfaces of anterior teeth as well.


Calculus The hard residue that forms on teeth due to plaque buildup that is usually rough, hard, and porous and usually stained yellow or brown.

Canine Teeth (Cuspid) Teeth next to the lateral incisors identified by pointed cusp used for tearing food.

Cantilever Bridge A bridge in which the pontic (false tooth) has a bridge retainer or retainers (abutment) at one end only.

Caries Tooth decay which in turn cause cavities to form in teeth.

Cast (Model) The reproduction of mouth structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold.

Cavity A decay lesion or hole in a tooth

Cementum Hard tissue that covers the roots of teeth.

Chart Log of dental or medical records.

Chronic Pulpitis An inflammation of the pulp caused by injury to the pulp, usually from dental caries or trauma.

Clasp A device that retains a removable partial denture.

Clenching The forceful holding together of the upper and lower teeth, which places stress on the ligaments that hold the teeth to the jawbone and the lower jaw to the skull.

Composite Filling Tooth colored filling made from a mix of plastic and glass/ceramic particles. This usually cured or set with light or chemicals.

Condyle The joint portion of the lower jaw.

Connecting Bar A fixed bar that connects two or more permucosal extensions. In the case of the ramus frame or subperiosteal implant it can be an integral part of the substructure.

Connective Tissue Graft A gingival graft using connective tissue as the donor.

Conscious Sedation A level of sedation via the use of intravenous medication used to quell anxiety. Protective reflexes (cough) still function.

Coping A thin, cast-metal cap, without external undercuts, that is fitted over a tooth preparation. Used in the preparation of crowns.

Cosmetic Dentistry The treatments performed to enhance appearance (e.g., bleaching, veneers)

Cross Bite Reverse biting relationship of upper and lower teeth.

Crown A porcelain or gold cover for a decayed, damaged or discolored tooth to resemble an anatomical crown.

Crown Lengthening A surgical procedure exposing more tooth for restorative or cosmetic purposes by apically positioning the gingival margin and/or removing supporting bone.

Cusp The protruding portion(s) or rounded points of a tooths chewing surface.

Cyst A pathological cavity, usually lined with epithelium , containing fluid or soft matter.


Decay The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth. The decomposition of tooth structure.

Deciduous Teeth First set of 20 teeth (baby teeth) that is later replaced by permanent teeth.

Defective Margin Edges of restorations (fillings) that have become uneven through wear or chipping of the tooth or the filling material.

Demineralisation A loss of mineral from tooth enamel just below the surface in a carious lesion. May appear as a small white area on the tooth surface.

Dental Hygienist A dental professional who specializes in cleaning the teeth by removing plaque, calculus, and diseased gum tissue.

Dental Implant A permucosal device which is biocompatible and biofunctional and is placed within the bone associated with the oral cavity to provide support for fixed or removable prosthetics.

Dental Prosthesis Any device or appliance replacing one or more missing teeth and/or, if required, associated structures. (This is a broad term which includes abutment crowns and abutment inlays/onlays, bridges, dentures, implants)

Dentin The hard bonelike tissue making up the root of the tooth and the crown under the shell of enamel. Dentin has feeling through a series of tubules connected to the nerve or pulp of a tooth.

Dentinal Tubules Microscopic canals that run from the outside of the dentin to the nerve inside the tooth.

Dentition The arrangement of natural teeth in the mouth.

Denture A removable set of artificial teeth that replaces all or some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw or both.

Desensitisation Blocking the pain stimulus that cause dentinal hypersensitivity.

Diagnostic Cast A plaster or stone model of teeth and adjoining tissues (Study Model)

Diastema A space, such as one between two adjacent teeth in the same dental arch.

Direct Pulp Cap A procedure in which the exposed pulp is covered with a dressing or cement with the aim of maintaining pulp vitality.

Direct Restoration A restoration fabricated inside the mouth.

Distal Toward the back of the dental arch (or away from the midline)

Dorsal Surface The top surface, typically used when speaking of the tongue, i.e. the dorsal surface of the tongue.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) Decrease in production of saliva.

Dry Socket A condition sometimes occurring after tooth extraction, particularly after traumatic extraction, resulting in a dry appearance of the exposed bone in the socket, due to disintegration or loss of the blood clot.


Edentulous The clinical absence of all the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw or both.

Enamel The hard tissue covering the crown (portion above the gumline) of a tooth. Enamel has no feeling or sensation.

Endodontics The branch of dentistry concerned with the treatment of the dental pulp or nerve of the tooth. The most common procedure is a root canal.

Endodontist An Endodontist deals with diseases of the dental pulp and supporting structures, diagnoses facial pain and related problems. They treat oral conditions that arise as a result of disease or injury of the dental pulp of the tooth, such as a root canal.

Epitheleal Attachment The continuation of the succular epithelium that is joined to the tooth structure and is located at the base of the sulcus, or pocket.

Equilibration See Occlusal Equilibration.

Erosion The loss or wearing away of tooth structure through the action of chemical substances. Part of the tooths surfaces are dissolved and lost.

Eruption When a tooth emerges or pushes through the gums.

Erythroplakia A chronic red oral mucosal patch usually not attributed to traumatic, vascular or inflammatory causes.

Evulsion The complete separation of the tooth from its socket due to trauma.

Excision The surgical removal of bone or tissue.

Exfoliate The process of shedding deciduous (baby) teeth.

Extraction The removal of a tooth or teeth.

Extra-oral Outside the oral cavity.

Extrinsic Stain Stains on the surface of teeth.

Extrusion The movement of a tooth to a new position beyond its normal alignment. This may be caused by trauma or as part of an orthodontic treatment plan.

Exudate A fluid usually resulting from inflammation or necrosis that contains cells, proteins, and solid materials that pass through vessel walls into adjoining tissues. This may leak from incisions or sites of infection or inflammation to form a clot.

Eye Tooth See Canine.


Facial The surface of a tooth directed toward the face (including the buccal and labial surfaces).

Filling A filling is a substance that dentists use to replace a decayed or broken portion of a tooth.

Fissure Cleft-like grooves in the chewing surface of the back teeth.

Fissure Sealant A material applied to teeth to seal the surface irregularities and fissures and prevent tooth decay.

Fissure Tongue Deep grooves in dorsum of tongue which cause no adverse consequences other than being a collection site for food debris and colonization site for Candida albicans.

Fistula A drainage pathway or abnormal communication between two epithlum-lined surfaces due to destruction of the intervening tissue.

Fixed Prosthesis A non-removable tooth or implant borne dental prosthesis which is solidly attached to abutment teeth or roots or implants.

Flap Surgery The lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures.

Fluoride A naturally occuring element that strengthens enamel, helping teeth resist decay.

Fluorosis A condition of enamel hypoplasia characterized by white chalky spots or brown staining and pitting of teeth due to an increased level of fluoride affecting enamel matrix formation.

Forceps The instrument used to remove a tooth.

Fracture The breaking of a part, especially of a bony structure. The breaking of a tooth.

Frenectomy The 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.

Frenum The muscle fibers covered by a mucous membrane that attaches the cheek, lips and/or tongue to associated dental mucosa.

Full Crown See Crown

Full Denture Removable dental prosthesis (appliance) replacing all upper or lower teeth.

Full Mouth Reconstruction Extensive restorations of natural teeth with crowns and or fixed bridges to manage bite or occlusal problems.

Full Mouth X-rays A combination of 14 or more periapical and 4 bitewing films of the back teeth. This series of X-rays reveals all the teeth (their crowns and roots) and the alveolar bone around them.

Furcation The anatomic area of a multi-rooted tooth where the roots diverge.

Fusion The union of two adjoining tooth germs.


General Anaesthesia 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.

General Dental Council (GDC) Organization that regulates dental professionals in the UK. All Dental professionals who want to practice in the UK must be actively registered with the GDC.

General Dentist A primary care provider for patients in all age groups who take responsibility for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services to meet patients oral health needs.

Geographic Tongue Multiple sensitive irregularly shaped erythematous patches on the tongue with white rims that enlarge and change shape daily. This does not require treatment.

Gingiva The soft tissue that covers the jawbone. Also referred to as the gums.

Gingival Grafting The surgical addition of new gingiva where inadequate attached gingiva exists, which may include recovering roots exposed by recession.

Gingival Hyperplasia Generalized increase in the fibrous component of the gingival. Persistent dental plaque, calculus (tartar) and gingival irritation increase the severity of the hyperplasia.

Gingival Margin Area of gingiva closest to the tooth surface, commonly referred to as the gumline.

Gingival Recession The condition which exists when the gingival margin has receded towards the root from the cementoenamel junction (the area where the tooth and root meet).

Gingivectomy The surgical removal of gum tissue.

Gingivitis The first stage of periodontal diseases. This is brought on by the bacteria in dental plaque if it is not removed on a daily basis. Reversible inflammation of gum tissue not including the bone - inflammation of gum tissue. Gingivitis causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed. Because gingivitis usually doesnt cause pain, many people dont get the treatment they need.

Gingivoplasty A surgical procedure to reshape or repair the gingiva (gum).

Glass Ionomer A fluoride containing, tooth colored material that can be used as a restoration or as a luting cement.

Graft A portion of tissue used to replace a defect in the body. Anything that is inserted into something else for it to become an integral part of the latter. In the case of bone, either artificial or synthetic bone is inserted over, under or in between living bone, usually for the purpose of increasing its strength and/or dimension.

Gums See Gingiva

Gum Boil An abscess on the gum caused by a draining infection.

Gum Disease See Periodontitis and Gingivitis.


Hairy Tongue Marked accumulation of keratin on the filiform papillae of the dorsum of the tongue resulting in hairy appearance and discoloration of the tongue thought to denote a change in the body's natural bacterial balance.

Halitosis Bad breath possibly caused by tooth decay, gum disease, digestive problems, smoking or some systemic diseases.

Hard Palate The bony front portion of the roof of the mouth.

Hemisection The surgical separation of a multirooted tooth so that one root and/or the overlaying portion of the crown can be surgically removed.

Haemostasis The stoppage of blood flow. This can occur naturally by clotting or artificially by the application of pressure , the placement of a haemostatic substance or the placement of sutures.

Hydrogen Peroxide Disinfecting solution used in dental irrigation procedures or as mouth rinse. Some tooth whitening products can also contain hydrogen peroxide.

Hygienist See Dental Hygienist

Hypercementosis Excessive deposit of cementum on root surface.

Hyperdontia A condition or circumstance characterized by one or more extra, or supernumerary teeth.

Hyperemia The presence of excess blood in a tissue area.

Hypodontia The congenital absence of one or several teeth.


Immediate Denture A removable prosthesis constructed for placement immediately after removal of natural teeth.

Impacted Teeth An unerrupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.

Impaction See Impacted Teeth

Implant See Dental Implant

Implantologist General Dentist who practices implant dentistry.

Impression A mold made of the teeth and soft tissues. This is used to cast a model.

Incisal The biting edges of the incisor and cuspid teeth.

Incision and Drainage The surgical incision of an abscess to drain suppuration(pus).

Incisors The four front teeth referred to as central and lateral incisors, located in the upper and lower jaws and used to cut and tear food.

Indirect Pulp Cap The procedure in which the nearly exposed pulp is covered with a protective dressing to protect the pulp from additional injury and to promote healing and repair via formation of secondary dentin.

Indirect Restoration A restoration fabricated outside the mouth.

Infection Invasion by pathogenic microorganisms which reproduce and multiply, causing disease by local cellular injury.

Inlay A custom-made, cast-gold alloy, porcelain or composite restoration that is cemented to a previously prepared cavity in the tooth.

Interdental Area between two adjacent teeth.

Interocclusal Area between two opposing teeth when biting.

Interproximal Contact area between two adjacent teeth.

Intracoronal This refer to within the crown of a tooth.

Intraoral This refer to inside the mouth.

Intravenous Conscious Sedation See Conscious Sedation.

Intrinsic Stain Stains on the inner layers of the dentin.

Irreversible Pulpitis Progresses from reversible pulpitis, a severe inflammation of the pulp.

Irrigation Mechanical method of flushing supra- and subgingival areas with fluid to disrupt debris and plaque. Also used when flushing a root canal during root canal treatment.


Jaw A common name for either the maxilla or the mandible


Keratinisation In the oral cavity the term is used to describe changes in the outer layer of the epithelium.


Labial Pertaining to or around the lip

Laminate A thin plastic or porcelain veneer produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to a tooth to improve its appearance.

Laughing Gas The common name for nitrous oxide. This is used to reduce anxieties and relax patients. IV Sedation is preferred to
Laughing Gas by most dentists.

Lesion A site of structural or functional change in body tissues that is produced by disease or injury.

Leukoplakia A clinical term used to denote mucosal conditions that produce a whiter than normal coloration of the mucous
membranes. A white patch that cannot be rubbed off and that does not clinically represent any other condition.

Lichen Planus A common disease of unknown aetiology within the oral cavity, where the gingiva appears as either white reticular, plaque, or erosive.

Lingual Pertaining to or around the tongue.

Local Anaesthesia The elimination of the sensation of pain, in the mouth by the surface application or regional injection of an
anesthetic drug.


Malocclusion The improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth

Mandible The lower jawbone.

Mandibular Canal The passage which transmits vessels and nervers through the jaw to branches that distribute them to the teeth.

Mandibular Nerve The third branch of the trigeminal nerve which provides general sensory innervation to the teeth and gingiva, the mucosa, of the cheek and floor of mouth, the epithelium of the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and the skin of the lower portion of the face.

Margin The point of contact between a restoration and the tooth.

Maryland Bridge A bridge that is bonded or cemented to the back of the adjacent teeth. This requires minimum tooth reduction.

Mastication The process of chewing.

Maxilla The upper jawbone.

Maxillofacial Surgeon See Oral Surgeon.

Meniscus The capsular cushion between the temporomandibluar joint and glenoid fossa.

Mesial Toward the front, anterior, or midline.

Microdontia Teeth that are considerably smaller than normal.

Milk Teeth See Deciduous Teeth.

Model (Cast) The reproduction of mouth structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold.

Molar The teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw. Grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.

Mouthguard A removable appliance used to protect teeth from injury during athletic activities.

Mucogingival Junction The scalloped linear area denoting the approximation or separation of the gingiva and the alveolar mucosa.

Mucosa The thin, outer pink or red membrane lining the inside of the oral cavity.


Nasal Relating to the nose.

Necrosis The death of a cell as a result of injury or disease.

Nerve Tissue that conveys sensation, temperature, position information to the brain.

Nitrous Oxide Inhalation Anaesthetic agent in the form of a gas that is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.


Occlusal The term identifies the biting surface of the posterior teeth.

Occlusal Appliance A removable acrylic appliance used to minimize the effects of grinding the teeth (bruxism) or joint problems (TMD). An occlusal appliance is usually worn at night.

Occlusal Equilibration Modification of the biting surfaces of opposing teeth to develop harmonious relationships between the teeth themselves, the neuromuscular mechanism, the temporomandibular joints, and the structure supporting the teeth.

Occlusal Radiograph An intraoral radiograph taken when the film is held between the occluded teeth to aid visualizing entire sections of the jaw. This is especially useful in exploring calcifications of the sublingual salivary glands.

Occlusion The relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure.

Onlay A custom-made, cast-gold alloy, porcelain or composite restoration that is cemented to a previously prepared cavity in the tooth. This restoration can cover a tooth cusp.

Operculum The flap of tissue over an unerupted or partially erupted tooth.

Oral Of or having to do with the mouth.

Oral Cavity The Mouth.

Oral Hygiene The process of maintaining the cleanliness of the mouth and teeth.

Oral Mucosa See Mucosa.

Oral Sedation Any substance taken orally (i.e., a pill or liquid) to reduce anxiety and relax the patient.

Oral Surgeon A specialist who deals with the diagnosis & surgical treatment of diseases, injuries, and deformities of the mouth, jaws and supporting structures. This include extractions, removal of cysts or tumors, and repair of fractured jaws.

Oral Surgery Surgery of the mouth.

Orthodontic Retainer An appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontics Straightening of the teeth.

Orthodontist A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the interception and treatment of malocclusion of the teeth and their surrounding structures.

Osseointegration Implies that a contact is established without interposition of non-bone tissue between normal remodeled bone and an implant entailing a sustained transfer and distribution of load from the implant to and within the bone tissue.

Osseous Of boney origin.

Over Denture A denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants.

Overbite A vertical overlap of the front teeth.

Overhang Excess filling material projecting beyond cavity margins.

Overjet A horisontal overlap of the front teeth.


Palatal This refer to the roof of the mouth. Also referring to tooth surfaces adjacent to the roof of the mouth.

Palate The hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities.

Palliative Treatment Treatment that is designed primarily to reduce or eliminate pain.

Palpate To examine by hand

Palpation The evaluation of a lesion by feeling it with the fingers to determine the texture of the area. The descriptive terms for palpation are soft, firm, semifirm and fluid filled. These terms also describe the consistency of a lesion.

Panoramic Radiograph An extra-oral radiographic film used to provide a radiograph of the dental structures, including the TMJ, Maxillary sinus, all teeth including their roots.

Papilla Refers to the v shaped gum tissue between individual teeth.

Papillae Small projections on the surface of the tongue.

Parafunctional Function other than normal function or use.

Parasthesia A partial loss of sensation. This may be temporary or permanent.

Parotid Glands Major salivary glands located in front of and below the ears.

Partial Denture This usually refers to a prosthetic device that replaces some but not all the missing teeth in a jaw.

Pediatric Dentist A dentist who provides treatment and care for children from birth through adolescence.

Pedodontics The dental specialty focusing on treatment of children.

Pedodontist See Pediatric Dentist.

Pellicle A thin nonbacterial film from saliva that covers the teeth.

Periapical The area surrounding the end or tip of the tooth root.

Periapical Abcess A progression of an acute pulpitis in which exudate extends into the adacent soft and hard tissues.

Periapical Cyst A cyst at the apex of a tooth with a non-vital pulp.

Periapical X-ray An X-ray that shows the anatomical tooth crown as well as the tooth root.

Pericoronitis An inflammation of the gum tissue around the crown of a tooth, usually the third molar (wysdom tooth).

Perio Pocket The pocket that forms when the gums detach from the side of the tooth.

Periodontal Relating to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.

Periodontal Abcess An abscess of the gingival or periodontal tissue secondary to periodontal infection.

Periodontal Chart The record of the measuring depth of gum pockets around the teeth.

Periodontal Disease Inflammatory process of the gingival tissues and/or periodontal ligament of the teeth, resulting in an abnormally deep gingival sulcus, possibly producing periodontal pockets and loss of supporting alveolar bone.

Periodontal Ligament The fibers which secures the tooth in the boney socket. The periodontal ligament is attached at one end to the cementum, and at the other end to the alveolar bone.

Periodontal Maintenance A series of simple measures performed by a dental professional that helps limit the effects and further development of periodontal disease. Some components of periodontal maintenance include soft tissue examination, plaque removal, and polishing of the teeth.

Periodontal Pocket A pathologically deepened gingival sulcus. A feature of periodontal disease.

Periodontal Probe An instrument used to measure pocket depth.

Periodontal Scaling (Root Planing) The removal of hard deposits, with metal scalers and curettes, on the root surfaces. The intent is to remove the diseased elements of the root surface, thereby permitting healing and potential reduction in depth of the periodontal pocket.

Periodontal Splinting The ligating, tying, or joining of periodontally involved teeth to one another to stabilize and immobilize the teeth.

Periodontal Surgery The recontouring or aesthetic management of diseased gum and supporting tissue.

Periodontics The dental field that deals with and treats the gum tissue and bone that supports the teeth.

Periodontist A dental specialist treating the gums and supporting soft and hard tissues retaining natural teeth.

Periodontitis Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease in which the tissues and bones that support the teeth are damaged by the buildup of bacterial plaque.

Permanent Dentition See Permanent Teeth.

Permanent Teeth The 32 adult teeth.

Pit A small defect in the tooth enamel, usually found on the back teeth.

Plaque Soft deposits of bacteria and debris that collect on teeth.

Pocket Depth The size (depth) of a periodontal pocket, usually measured in millimeters.

Polishing A dental procedure that removes stain, plaque and acquired pellicle by using an abrasive polishing paste in a rubber cup attached to a slow-speed hand piece or air-powder polisher.

Pontic The term used for an artificial tooth on a bridge.

Porcelain Crown An all-porcelain restoration covering the portion of tooth above the gum line that can be solor matched to an individuals teeth.

Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown (PFM) Restoration covering the portion of tooth above gum line made with a metal coping (for strength) covered by porcelain (for appearance) that can be color matched to an individuals teeth.

Porcelain Veneer A thin layer of porcelain, fabricated by a laboratory) bonded to a natural tooth to replace lost tooth structure, close spaces, straighten teeth or change color and/or shape.

Post and Core An anchoring pin or post that is cemented into the root of the tooth (after a root canal) when there is not enough remaining tooth to support a crown.

Posterior Refers to teeth and tissues towards the back of the mouth.

Precision Attachment An interlocking device, one component of which is fixed to an abutment or abutments and the other is integrated into a fixed or removable prosthesis in order to stabilize and/or retain it.

Premolar See Bicuspid.

Premedication The use of medications prior to dental procedures.

Preventitive Dentistry Education and treatment devoted to and concerned with preventing the development of dental disease.

Primary Dentition See Deciduous Teeth.

Primary Teeth See Deciduous Teeth.

Prognosis The probable outcome of treatment.

Prophy Jet Air polishing for stain removal.

Prophylaxis The professional cleaning and removal of plaque, stains, and calculus on the teeth.

Prosthesis An artificial replacement for a body part.

Prosthodontics The restoration of natural teeth and replacement of missing or lost teeth. Common procedures are crowns, bridges, dentures and dental implants.

Prosthodontist A dentist who specializes in restoring teeth, replacing missing teeth with bridges and dentures, and maintaining proper occlusion.

Proximal The surfaces of adjacent teeth.

Pulp The nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue inside a tooth.

Pulp Cap A medicated covering over a small area of exposed pulp.

Pulp Cavity See Pulp Chamber.

Pulp Chamber The center or innermost portion of the tooth containing the pulp.

Pulp Stone A calcification within the dental pulp lying free or attached to the pulpal surface of the tooth.

Pulpal Abcess An inflammation of the dental pulp, associated with a circumscribed collection of necrotic tissue and pus arising from breakdown of leukocytes and bacteria.

Pulpal Calcification Calcifications within the dental pulp.

Pulpal Necrosis A term applied to pulp tissue that is no longer living.

Pulpectomy The total removal of the pulp in diseased deciduous teeth.

Pulpitis An inflammation of the pulpal tissue that may be acute or chronic with or without symptoms, and reversible or irreversible.

Pulpotomy Partial removal of the pulp in diseased deciduous teeth.


Quadrant One of the four equal sections into which the dental arches can be divided. It begins at the midline of the arch and extends distally to the last tooth.


Radiolucent The black or dark areas in a radiograph that result from the ability of radiant energy to pass through the structure. Less dense structures (such as the pulp) are radiolucent.

Radio opaque The white or clear appearance in a radiograph that results from the inability of radiant energy to pass through a structure. The more dense the structure (such as restorations), the whiter it appears in the radiograph.

Receded Gums A condition characterized by the abnormal loss of gum tissue due to infection or bone loss.

Referral When a dental patient from one office is sent to another dentist, usually a specialist, for treatment or consultation.

Reimplantation Act of reinserting a tooth into the alveolar socket from which it had been avulsed.

Reline To resurface the tissue side of a denture with new material so that it will fit more accurately.

Remineralisation Replacement of the tooths' minerals into a demineralised (previously decayed) lesion. This reverses the decay process, and is enhanced by the presence of topical fluoride.

Removable Prosthesis A dental prosthesis designed to be removed and reinserted by the patient.

Residual Cyst A cyst that remains at the site of a previously extracted tooth.

Residual Ridge A remnant of the alveolar process and soft tissue covering after teeth are removed.

Residual Root The remaining root structure following the loss of the major portion of the anatomical crown.

Resin Filling See Composite Filling

Resorption A loss of bone substances by physiologic or pathologic means which is usually associated with the natural aging process, metabolic disturbances and trauma.

Restoration The replacement of a portion of a damaged, decayed or fractured tooth.

Restorative Dentistry The process of restoring missing, damaged or diseased teeth to normal form and function.

Retained Root Partial root structure remaining in jaw after extraction or fracture of a natural tooth.

Retainer See Orthodontic Retainer.

Retrograde Filling A method of sealing the root canal by preparing and filling it from the root apex during an apicectomy.

Reversable Pulpitis Mild inflammation of the tooth pulp caused by caries encroaching on the pulp.

Ridge See Alveolar Bone.

Ridge Augmentation A procedure designed to increase the amount of bone height or width in the upper or lower jaw.

Root The part of the tooth that is not covered by enamel. Tooth structure that anchors the tooth to the jaw. It is made up of dentine and covered by cementum.

Root Canal The narrow chamber inside the root of the tooth that contains the nerve and blood vessels.

Root Canal Filling Reshaping and filling the root canal in the tooth after the death of the nerve.

Root Canal Treatment (Therapy) The nerve and bloodvessels of the tooth is removed from the root, this area is cleaned and reshaped and replaced with an inert filling material.

Root Planing Also see Periodontal Scaling.

Root Resection The removal of a root of a tooth while retaining the crown.

Root Resorption The loss of root structure. The apex of the tooth appears shortened or blunted and irregularly shaped. This can also be internal or external of origin.

Rubber Dam Soft latex sheet used to establish isolation of one or more teeth from contamination by oral fluids and to keep materials from falling to the back of the throat.


Saliva The clear, natural lubricating fluid in the mouth.

Saliva Ejector A suction tube placed in the mouth to remove saliva.

Salivary Glands The glands located under tongue and in cheeks which produce saliva.

Scaling A dental procedure used to scrape bacterial plaque and calculus from the surfaces of the tooth.

Sealant See Fissure Sealant.

Secondary Dentine A reparative tooth structure produced by the pulp in response to tooth irritation.

Sequestrum A fragment of dead bone separated from healthy bone as a result of injury or disease.

Sinus Tract A drainage pathway from a deep focus of acute infection through tissue and/or bone to an opening on the surface.

Socket The area in the jawbone that holds the tooth.

Soft Palate The soft area at the back of the roof of the mouth.

Space Maintainer The dental device that holds the space lost through premature loss of baby teeth.

Specialist In dentistry in the UK, a specialist refer to a registered dentist who have met certain requirements and been given the right by the GDC to call themselves a 'specialist'. Any registered dentist can work in a particular field of dentistry (such as orthodontics or oral surgery), but only those on the GDC specialist lists can call themselves a 'specialist'.

Splint The connection of two or more teeth so they function as a stronger single structure.

Stain Color changes in the teeth. Also see Extrinsic stain and Intrinsic stain.

Stomatitis The inflammation of the membranes of the mouth.

Study Model See Diagnostic Cast.

Subgingival The moat-like area below the gingival margin which surrounds the tooth.

Sulcus The space between the free gingival and the tooth, having a depth of 1-3mm.

Supernumerary Tooth See Hyperdontia

Superstructure A structure constructed on or over another structure. For example, a removable denture that fits snugly onto the protruding implant abutments.

Suppuration Bacterial contamination of tissue exudates i.e. pus.

Supragingival The area above the gingival margin.

Surgical Extraction The extraction of a tooth that requires opening a gum tissue flap, removal of bone and placing sutures.

Suture A stitch used to repair incision or wound.

Symptom A manifestation of disease of which the patient is usually aware and frequently complains.

Syndrome A combination of signs and symptoms occurring commonly enough to constitute a distinct clinical entity.

Systemic Relating to the whole body.


Tartar See Calculus.

Temporary Denture A dental prosthesis that is planned to be used for a short interval of time, generally during a healing period following surgery.

Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ) The area forming the hinge between the mandible and the skull.

Third Molar See Wisdom Teeth.

Tooth Bud Early embryonic structure that becomes a tooth.

Tooth Decay See Decay.

Tooth Whitening The whitening of natural teeth through chemical or laser treatment.

Topical Anaesthetic Ointment that produces mild anaesthesia when applied to tissue surface.

Topical Fluoride Fluoride in a liquid or gel form placed on teeth to help prevent caries.

Torus A bony nodule on the hard palate or on the lingual aspect of the premolars.

Translucent Somewhat penetrable by rays of light.

Trauma A wound or injury. Damage produced by an external force.

Treatment Plan A list of the work the dentist proposes to perform on a dental patient based on the results of the dentists X rays, examination, and diagnosis. Often more than one treatment plan is presented.


Ultrasonic Cleaning A cleaning that uses high frequency sound waves to gently remove deposits, such as tartar and stain, from the teeth.

Unerupted Tooth A tooth that has not erupted through the gum.


Veneer See Porcelain Veneer.

Vertical Dimension The vertical height of the face, in particular the distance from the tip of the nose to the point of the chin, with the teeth in occlusion acting as stops or at an equivalent distance if the teeth are not present.

Vesicle A well-defined lesion of the skin and mucous membranes that resembles a sac, contains fluid, and is less than 1 cm in diameter.


Wax up A wax form that is a model of an object to be fabricated.

Wisdom Teeth
The third molar, or eighth tooth from the center of mouth to the back of the mouth. Wisdom teeth are often impacted (obstructed from erupting) and have to be extracted. They usually erupt at age 18-25.


Xerostomia Decrease in production of saliva. (see Dry Mouth)

X-ray Radiograph.



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