Dental Dictionary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K

Abscess  a collection of pus that usually forms because of infection

Abutment  a tooth/tooth structure that’s responsible for anchorage of a bridge or denture

Amalgam  silver filling material

Anesthetic  an agent that causes temporary loss of sensation/feeling

Anterior  front position

Apex  end of the root

Asepsis  no micro-organism

Attrition  wear of teeth due to activities such as chewing

Avulsed  an injury that causes a tooth to be completely knocked out of the mouth

Bitewing  an x-ray taken with the teeth bite together to detect cavities in between teeth & height of bone support

Bleaching  whitening of teeth

Bridge  a prosthesis that’s fixed inside the mouth to replace missing teeth

Bruxism  teeth grinding

Canine  the third tooth, which are the longest, from the middle of the jaw; there are two on top & two on bottom

Canker sore  a mouth ulceration with yellow base & red border that’s caused by trauma or herpes simplex virus

Caries  tooth decay

Cavity  hole on the tooth

Cast  model of teeth

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

Chlorhexidine  an effective anti-microbial agent in controlling gum disease that’s available in many forms such as gels & rinses

Clasp  a metal arm extended from a removable partial denture (RPD) that helps to hold onto natural tooth structure & thus provide anchorage for the denture

Cold sore  an ulcer or blister on lip; a form of herpes simplex

Composite  white filling material

Cross-bite  an abnormal bite relationship of upper & lower jaw:  the lower teeth align toward the check/lip side more than the upper teeth

Crown (porcelain/plastic/metal)  like a “cap” on a tooth that covers the tooth partially or totally above the gum to restore its function & outlook

Decay  soft substance caused by the bacterial demineralization of enamel & dentin; an infection within a tooth that must be treated

Dentistry  branch of medicine that involves diagnosis, prevention, & treatment of any disease concerning teeth, oral cavity, & associated structures

Dentition  the position, type, & number of teeth in upper & lower jaw

Denture  an artificial object to replace missing teeth & their neighboring structures; there are many different types to satisfy different treatment requirements & patient preferences (e.g. immediate/complete/partial, overdenture, temporary)

Denturist  person who specializes in fabricating dentures & is not responsible for making any type of diagnosis or carrying out any other treatment (e.g. removing teeth)

Desensitization  a procedure to reduce the sensitivity of teeth

Diagnosis  process of identifying dental disease

Diastema  space between two adjacent teeth

Distal  side of the tooth away from the middle of the jaw

Edentulous  no teeth

Endodontics  specialty of dentistry involving diagnosis, prevention & treatment of dental pulp

Eruption  process of the tooth appearing in the mouth

Excision  action of cutting something off

Extruded  when a tooth may be pushed partially out of the socket

Explanation of Benefits (EOB)  a statement listing rendered dental services & how much was paid by dental insurance company

Filling  a restoration placed on a tooth to restore its function & appearance

Flipper  a temporary denture to replace missing teeth during the waiting period for long term treatment

Floss  a thread/tape that goes in between teeth for cleaning

Fluoride  a compound of fluorine, which is in different forms (e.g. water, gels & rinses) to strengthen teeth

Fluoride Treatment  teeth treatment with fluoride agents (e.g. gel or rinse) to help prevent tooth decay

Fracture  when a cusp of a tooth becomes weakened, a fracture may result; it’s possible for the crack to extend further into the root so damage to the pulp is commonplace

Framework  a metal skeleton of a removable partial denture to support the false teeth & the plastic attachments

Gingivitis  mildest form of gum disease:  inflammation of gum; the earliest sign is bleeding gum

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) 

Hemorrhage  bleeding

Hemostasis  stop bleeding

Impaction  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”) surgically placed in the jaw bone to support a false tooth,  denture or  bridge

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


Incisal  cutting edge of front teeth

Incisor  the four upper & four lower front teeth

Inlay  a restoration (e.g. gold, composite or ceramics) that cements on a tooth to help restore the normal function & outlook of the tooth

Interproximal  space between two adjacent teeth



L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Lingual  side of the tooth towards the tongue

Mesial  side of the tooth towards the middle of the jaw

Molar  the last three upper & three lower teeth on both sides of the mouth

Mouthguard  a mouth device to help prevent injury to teeth &/or jaw during teeth grinding or sport events

Nightguard  a mouthguard which is worn at night time to prevent clenching &/or grinding

Occlusal  biting surface of the back teeth

Occlusion  the way the upper & lower teeth close together

Onlay  a restoration (usually gold, composite or ceramics) that covers the entire biting surface of a tooth

Open bite  an abnormal bite relationship where the upper teeth are not able to contact the opposing lower teeth

Orthodontics  specialty of dentistry involving diagnosis, prevention & treatment of bite abnormalities or facial irregularities


Over bite  an abnormal bite relationship where there’s an overlap of upper teeth & lower teeth when they close together

Overhang  a portion of filling material that hangs beyond the border of the cavity

Palate  roof of the mouth

Panoramic Radiograph  an x-ray film used to obtain the wide view of upper & lower jaw & their associated structures

Perforation  an opening on a tooth or other oral structure

Periapical  the surrounding of the bottom of the root of a tooth

Periodontics  specialty of dentistry involving diagnosis, prevention & treatment of gum (periodontal) disease

Permanent teeth  adult teeth, with he first permanent tooth usually erupting at around 6 years old

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

Pin  a piece of “nail-like” metal, which is usually used for better retention of a filling

Polish  process to make the tooth or filling or other denture smooth & glossy

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

Post  a big pin, which can be made of different materials (e.g. metal, carbon), that supports a big buildup on a tooth

Posterior  back position

Pre-authorization/Pre-estimate  an approval, which states how much the dental insurance company will cover for services, before any treatment is carried out

Pre-medication  medication needing to be taken before treatment

Premolar  the two teeth located behind either side of upper & lower incisors (or in front of upper & lower molars)

Prescription  (1) a written statement (from a doctor to a pharmacist) regarding the type, the amount & direction of the use of a medication for a patient; (2) a written statement (from a dentist to a lab) for preparation of an appliance

Primary teeth  baby teeth

Prophylaxis/Prophy  procedure of teeth polishing and also means the prevention of diseases

Prosthesis an artificial part to replace missing teeth and their associated structures

Prosthodontics  specialty of dentistry involving diagnosis, treatment planning & fabrication of artificial parts to replace missing teeth & their associated structures

Pulp  innermost part of a tooth, which contains nerves & 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  x-ray picture

Recall/Recare  the regular checkup and teeth cleaning appointment

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

Restoration  an item (e.g. crown, bridge, etc.) used to restore normal function of a tooth or an area in the mouth

Retainer  a device used for maintaining the position of teeth in the jaw in orthodontic treatment

Retreatment  process of repeating the root canal treatment

Root  bottom part of tooth, which anchors the tooth to its supporting units

Root canal  a canal, which contains the nerves & blood vessels, that runs inside the root of the tooth

Root canal treatment  treatment for the root canal inside the tooth

Root planing  action of cleaning the root area of teeth

Rubber dam  a rubber sheet, which isolates the treatment area from rest of the oral cavity, that fits around teeth

Scaling  action of cleaning teeth below the gumline

Sealant  a thin layer of plastic-like material covering the grooves & pits on a tooth to prevent cavity

Sedation  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)  joint that links the two parts of the jaw

Torus  an outgrowth of bone, which usually develops on the palate or around the premolar area on the lower jaw


Veneer  a layer of tooth-colored material (e.g. 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 & last tooth from the middle of the jaw; the two upper & two lower backmost teeth

Xerostomia  dry mouth



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