Glossary

A

  • Amalgam – Material made from mercury and other alloy mixtures used to restore a drilled portion of a tooth.
  • Anesthesia – Medications used to relieve pain.
  • Anterior teeth – Front teeth. Also called incisors and cuspids.
  • Arch – The upper or lower jaw.

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B

  • Baby bottle tooth decay – Caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby’s mouth.
  • Bicuspids -A premolar tooth; tooth with two cusps, which are pointed or rounded eminences on or near the masticating surface of a tooth.
  • BitewingsX-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities.
  • Bonding – Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth.
  • Bridge – A prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or otherwise attached to the abutment teeth or implant replacements.
  • Bruxism – Teeth grinding.

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C

  • Calculus – A hard deposit of mineralized substance adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices.
  • Canal – The narrow chamber inside the tooth’s root.
  • Canines – Also called cuspids.
  • Canker sore – One that occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. A canker sore is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border.
  • Caries – A commonly used term for tooth decay, or cavities.
  • Cold sore – Usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by the herpes simplex virus, and it is usually painful and filled with fluid.
  • Composite filling – Tooth colored restorations, also known as resin fillings.
  • Composite resin – A tooth colored resin combined with silica or porcelain and used as a restoration material.
  • Contouring – The process of reshaping teeth.
  • Crown – An artificial tooth replacement that restores missing tooth structure by surrounding the remaining coronal tooth structure. It is also placed on a dental implant.
  • Cusps – The pointed parts on top of the back teeth’s chewing surface.
  • Cuspids – Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge.

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D

  • Dentin – The tooth layer underneath the enamel.
  • Denture – A removable set of teeth.

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E

  • Endodontics – A form of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth’s root or nerve.

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F

  • Fluoride – A harmless over-exposure to fluoride resulting in tooth discoloration.
  • Fluorosis – A harmless over-exposure to fluoride and resulting sometimes in tooth discoloration.

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G

  • Gingiva – Another word for gum tissue.
  • Gingivitis – A minor disease of the gums caused by plaque.
  • Gum disease – An infection of the gum tissues. Also called periodontal disease.

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I

  • Impacted teeth – A condition in which a tooth fails to erupt or only partially erupts.
  • Implant – A permanent appliance used to replace a missing tooth.
  • Incisor – Front teeth with cutting edges; located in the center or on the sides near the front.
  • Inlay – An artificial filling made of various materials, including porcelain, resin, or gold.

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L

  • Laminate veneer – A shell that is bonded to the enamel of a front tooth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin.

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M

  • Malocclusion – Bad bite relationship.
  • Mandible – The lower jaw.
  • Maxilla – The upper jaw.
  • Molar – Usually the largest teeth, near the rear of the mouth. Molars have large chewing surfaces.

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N

  • Neuromuscular Dentistry – Addresses more than the aches and pains felt in and around the neck and head that are associated with your teeth and jaw.

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O

  • Onlay – A filling designed to protect the chewing surface of a tooth.
  • Orthodontics – A field of dentistry that deals with tooth and jaw alignment.
  • Overdenture – A non-fixed dental appliance applied to a small number of natural teeth or implants.

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P

  • Palate – Roof of the mouth.
  • Partial denture – A removable appliance that replaces missing teeth.
  • Pediatric Dentistry – A field of dentistry that deals with children’s teeth
  • Perio pocket – An opening formed by receding gums.
  • Periodontal disease – Infection of the gum tissues. Also called gum disease.
  • Periodontist – A dentist who treats diseases of the gums.
  • Permanent teeth – The teeth that erupt after primary teeth. Also called adult teeth.
  • Plaque – A sticky, colorless substance that covers the teeth after sleep or periods between brushing.
  • Posterior teeth – The bicuspids and molars. Also called the back teeth.
  • Primary teeth – A person’s first set of teeth. Also called baby teeth or temporary teeth.
  • Prophylaxis – The act of cleaning the teeth.
  • Prosthodontics – The field of dentistry that deals with artificial dental appliances.
  • Pulp – The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood, nerves and connective tissue.

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R

  • Receding gum – A condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth’s enamel and surrounding bone.
  • Resin filling – An artificial filling used to restore teeth. Also called a composite filling.
  • Root canal – A procedure in which a tooth’s nerve is removed and an inner canal cleansed and later filled.
  • Root planing – Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line.

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S

  • Sealant – A synthetic material placed on the tooth’s surface that protects the enamel and chewing surfaces.

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T

  • TMJ – Temporomandibular joint disorder. Health problems related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear.
  • Tarter – A hardened substance (also called calculus) that sticks to the tooth’s surface.

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V

  • Veneer – A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.

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W

  • Whitening – A process that employs special bleaching agents for restoring the color of teeth.
  • Wisdom tooth – Third set of molars that erupt last in adolescence.

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