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Patient Resources

Dental Dictionary

A
Abrasion – Tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing, such as holding objects between the teeth or improper brushing.
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.
Alveolar Bone – The part of the jaw that surrounds the roots of the teeth.
Alveolar Process – The curving part of the jaw into which the teeth are rooted.
Alveolus – The socket in the alveolar bone into which the tooth's root fits.
Amalgam – A silver filling material. Anesthesia
General Anesthesia: A controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of protective reflexes, including loss of ability to independently maintain airway and respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command, produced by a pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic method or combination thereof.
Intravenous Sedation/Analgesia: A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes intravenous administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) and appropriate monitoring.
Local Anesthesia: The loss of pain sensation over a specific area of the anatomy without loss of consciousness.
Non-Intravenous Conscious Sedation: A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) by a route other than IV; (PO, PR, Intranasal, IM) and appropriate monitoring.
Anesthetic – An agent that causes temporary loss of sensation/feeling.
Anterior – The front position.
Apex –The end of the root.
Apicoectomy – Removal of the tip of a tooth root.
Asepsis – No microorganism.
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.

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B
Benign – The mild character of an illness or the non-malignant character of a neoplasm.
Bicuspid – A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.
Bilateral – Occurring on, or pertaining to, both right and left sides.
Biopsy – Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.
Bitewing – A kind of dental x-ray, which is taken with the teeth bite together. The main function of this kind of x-ray is to detect cavities in between teeth and height of bone support.
Bitewing Radiographs – X-rays used to reveal the crowns of several upper and lower teeth as they bite down.
Bleaching – Whitening of teeth.
Bonding – A composite resin applied to a tooth to change its shape and/or color. Bonding also refers to how a filling, orthodontic appliance or some fixed partial dentures are attached to teeth.
Bridge – A prosthesis, which is fixed inside the mouth to replace missing teeth.
Bruxism – Constant grinding or clenching of teeth during the day or while asleep.

C
Calculus – Hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth.
Canal – A relatively narrow tubular passage or channel.
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.
Caries – Tooth decay.
Cariogenic - Promotes tooth decay.
Cast – A model of teeth.
Cavity – A hole on the tooth.
Cementation – The process of “gluing” the appliance/prosthesis on the associated area.
Cementum – Hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.
Cleft Lip – Birth defect in which one or more fissures form in the upper lip, which takes place while the fetus is growing.
Cleft Palate – Congenital deformity resulting in lack of fusion of the soft and/or hard palate, either partial or complete.
Clenching – The clamping and pressing of the jaws and teeth together in centric occlusion, frequently associated with psychological stress or physical effort.
Chlorhexidine – An antimicrobial 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.
Cold Sore – An ulcer or blister on lip. A form of herpes simplex.
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.
Crown
Anatomical Crown: That portion of tooth normally covered by, and including, enamel.
Abutment Crown: Artificial crown serving for the retention or support of a dental prosthesis.
Artificial Crown: Restoration covering or replacing the major part or the whole of the clinical crown of a tooth.
Clinical Crown: That portion of a tooth not covered by supporting tissues.
Crown Lengthening: A surgical procedure exposing more tooth for restorative purposes by apically positioning the gingival margin and/or removing supporting bone.
Cusp – The pointed portion of the tooth.
Cyst – Pathological cavity, usually lined with epithelium, containing fluid or soft matter.

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D
Debridement – Removing foreign matter or dead tissue.
Decay – The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.
Dentin – That part of the tooth that is beneath enamel and cementum.
Dentistry – A branch of medicine that involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of any disease concerning teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures.
Dentition – The teeth in the dental arch.
Permanent Dentition - Refers to the permanent teeth in the dental arch.
Deciduous Dentition - Refers to the deciduous or primary teeth in the dental arch.
Denture – (Immediate/complete/partial) (overdenture, temporary)
An artificial object to replace missing teeth and their neighboring structures. There are many different types of dentures to satisfy different treatment requirements and patient preferences.
Denturist – The person who specializes in fabricating dentures. A Denturist 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 – 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.
Dry Mouth –  See Xerostomia
Dry Socket – Localized inflammation of the tooth socket following extraction due to infection or loss of blood clot; osteitis.
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E
Edentulous – Toothless.
Enamel – Hard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of tooth.
Endodontics – A department of dentistry involving diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental pulp (where the nerves and blood vessels are inside the tooth).
Endodontist – A dental specialist who limits his/her practice to treating disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.
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.
Erosion – Wearing down of tooth structure, caused by chemicals (acids).
Evaluation
Periodic Oral Evaluation: An evaluation performed on a patient of record to determine any changes in the patient's dental and medical health status since a previous comprehensive or periodic evaluation. This may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. Report additional diagnostic procedures separately.
Limited Oral Evaluation: Problem focused: an evaluation limited to a specific oral health problem. This may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. Definitive procedures may be required on the same date as the evaluation. Typically, patients receiving this type of evaluation have been referred for a specific problem and/or present with dental emergencies, trauma, acute infection, etc.
Comprehensive Oral Evaluation: Typically used by a general dentist and/or a specialist when evaluating a patient comprehensively. It is a thorough evaluation and recording of the extraoral and intraoral hard and soft tissues. It may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. This would include the evaluation and recording of the patient's dental and medical history and a general health assessment. It may typically include the evaluation and recording of dental caries, missing or unerupted teeth, restorations, occlusal relationships, periodontal conditions (including periodontal charting), hard and soft tissue anomalies, etc.
Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation: Typically includes evaluation of periodontal conditions, probing and charting, evaluation and recording of the patient's dental and medical history, and general health assessment. It may include the evaluation and recording of dental caries, missing or unerupted teeth, restorations, occlusal relationships, and oral cancer screening.
Detailed And Extensive Oral Evaluation—Problem-Focused, By Report: A detailed and extensive problem-focused evaluation entails extensive diagnostic and cognitive modalities based on the findings of a comprehensive oral evaluation. Integration of more extensive diagnostic modalities to develop a treatment plan for a specific problem is required. The condition requiring this type of evaluation should be described and documented. Examples of conditions requiring this type of evaluation may include dentofacial anomalies, complicated perio-prosthetic conditions, complex temporomandibular dysfunction, facial pain of unknown origin, severe systemic diseases requiring multi-disciplinary consultation, etc.
Re-Evaluation—Limited, Problem Focused (established patient; not post-operative visit): This includes assessing the status of a previously existing condition. Examples of conditions requiring this type of evaluation may include a traumatic injury where no treatment was rendered but the patient needs follow-up monitoring, evaluation for undiagnosed continuing pain, a soft tissue lesion requiring follow-up evaluation.
Excision – Surgical removal of bone or tissue.
Extraction – The process or act of removing a tooth or tooth parts.
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F
Filling – A restoration placed on a tooth to restore its function and appearance.
Fixed Appliances – Orthodontic devices, commonly known as braces, that are bonded to the teeth to produce different tooth movements to help reposition teeth for orthodontic therapy.
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 (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.
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G
General Anesthesia – A deep level of sedation in which patients lose consciousness, feel no pain and have no memory of what is taking place around them.
Gingiva – Soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.
Gingival Hyperplasia – An overgrowth of gingival tissues.
Gingivectomy – The excision or removal of gingiva.
Gingivitis – Inflammation of gingival tissue without loss of connective tissue.
Gingivoplasty – Surgical procedure to reshape gingiva.
Graft – A piece of tissue or alloplastic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency.
Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR) – Procedure during flap surgery for periodontal disease in which a membrane is inserted between the alveolar bone and the bone graft to encourage the gum tissues to grow onto the alveolar bone.
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H
Hemorrhage – Bleeding.
Homeostasis – Stop bleeding.
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I
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.
Intraoral – Inside the mouth.
Intravenous Sedation/Analgesia – A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes intravenous administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) and appropriate monitoring.
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J
Jaw – A common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.
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K
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L
Labial – Pertaining to or around the lip.
Lesion – An injury or wound; area of diseased tissue.
Lingual – The side of the tooth towards the tongue.
Local Anesthesia – The loss of pain sensation over a specific area of the anatomy without loss of consciousness.
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M
Maintenance, Periodontal – Therapy for preserving the state of health of the periodontium.
Malignant – Having the properties of dysplasia, invasion and metastasis.
Malocclusion – Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.
Maryland Bridge – A type of fixed partial denture not requiring crowns. The prosthesis is bonded to the natural teeth to secure it.
Maxilla – The upper jaw.
Mesial – The side of the tooth towards the middle of the jaw.
Molar – Teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.
Mouth Guard – Device that fits over the teeth, mouth or lips. May also refer to a device that prevents tooth grinding or treats temporomandibular disorders.
Mucous Membrane – Lining of the oral cavity as well as other canals and cavities of the body; also called "mucosa."
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N
Night Guard – A mouth guard which is worn at night time.
Non-Intravenous Conscious Sedation – A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) by a route other than IV; (PO, PR, Intranasal, IM) and appropriate monitoring.
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O
Obstructive Sleep Apnea – A disorder in which breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep.
Occlusal – The biting surface of the back teeth.
Occlusion – The way how the upper and lower teeth close together.
Onlay – An indirect restoration made outside the oral cavity that overlays a cusp or cusps of the tooth, which is then luted to the tooth.
Open bite – The situation where the upper teeth not able to contact the opposing lower teeth.
Oral – Pertaining to the mouth.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon – A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries, deformities, defects and esthetic aspects of the oral and maxillofacial regions.
Oral Mucosa – The pink-red tissues that line the mouth.
Orthodontics – A special field in dentistry which involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of bite abnormalities or facial irregularities.
Orthognathic Surgery – Surgery performed to correct facial imbalances caused by abnormalities of the jaw bones.
Osseointegration – The process by which bone heals around an implant.
Osteoplasty – Surgical procedure that modifies the configuration of bone.
Osteotomy – Surgical cutting of bone.
Overbite – The overlap of upper teeth and lower teeth when they close together.
Overdenture – A removable prosthetic device that overlies and may be supported by retained tooth roots or implants.
Overhang – The portion of filling material that hangs beyond the border of the cavity. Obstructive Sleep Apnea - A disorder in which breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep.
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P
Palate – The hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities.
Palliative Action – Action that relieves pain but is not curative.
Panoramic Radiograph – An X-ray film used to obtain the wide view of upper and lower jaw and their associated structures.
Parotid Glands – Major salivary glands located in front of and below the ears.
Partial Denture – Usually refers to a prosthetic device that replaces missing teeth; see Fixed Partial Denture or Removable Partial Denture (anchor link to R Section).
Pellicle – A thin nonbacterial film from saliva that covers the teeth.
Perforation – An opening on a tooth or other oral structure.
Periapical – The surrounding of the bottom of the root of a tooth.
Periapical X-Ray – An x-ray that shows several entire teeth (crowns and roots) and includes a small amount of the periapical bone (surrounding the root tips).
Periodontal – Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.
Periodontal Abscess – An infection in the gum pocket that can destroy hard and soft tissues.
Periodontal Disease – Inflammatory process of the gingival tissues and/or periodontal membrane of the teeth, resulting in an abnormally deep gingival sulcus, possibly producing periodontal pockets and loss of supporting alveolar bone.
Periodontal Pocket – Pathologically deepened gingival sulcus; a feature of periodontal disease.
Periodontics – A specialty of dentistry involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of gum (periodontal) disease.
Permanent teeth – Adult’s 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.
Plaque – A soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives.
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 – An elongated projection fitted and cemented within the prepared root canal, serving to strengthen and retain restorative material and/or a crown restoration.
Posterior – Refers to teeth and tissues towards the back of the mouth (distal to the canines): maxillary and mandibular premolars and molars.
Precision Attachment – 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.
Pre-authorization – An approval from the particular authority (usually insurance company in dentistry) before any action (treatment) is carried out.
Premedication – The use of medications prior to dental procedures.
Premolar – The two teeth located in front of the molar.
Prescription – A written statement (from a doctor to a pharmacist) regarding the type, the amount and direction of the use of a medication for a patient. In dentistry, a prescription can also be a written statement for preparation of an appliance from a dentist to a lab technician.
Primary Teeth – Baby teeth.
Prophylaxis – Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stains.
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.
Pulp Cavity – The space within a tooth which contains the pulp.
Pulpectomy – The removal of the whole pulp inside a tooth.
Pulpotomy – The removal of the top part of the pulp inside a tooth.
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Q
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R
Radiograph – An X-ray picture.
Ranula – A cyst that can develop under the tongue on the floor of the mouth.
Rebase – To replace the denture base.
Recall – The regular checkup and teeth cleaning appointment.
Recementation – The process of “gluing” the appliance/prosthesis back on the associated area.
Reline – To resurface the side of the denture that is in contact with the soft tissues of the mouth to make it fit more securely.
Removable Appliance – Removable orthodontic appliances used to effect simple tipping movements of one tooth or several.
Removable Partial Denture – A removable partial denture (removable bridge) is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth that can be removed by the patient.
Resorb – To dissolve.
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 Caries – Tooth decay that forms on the roots.
Rubber Dam – A rubber sheet that fits around teeth. It isolates the treatment area from the rest of the oral cavity.Root Planing – A procedure designed to remove microbial flora, bacterial toxins, calculus, and diseased cementum or dentin on the root surfaces and in the pocket.
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S
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.
Sjogren's Syndrome – An autoimmune disorder (mostly affecting older women) that is characterized by partial or complete cessation of saliva and tears. It can be associated with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatic arthritis, lupus or scleroderma.
Space Maintainer – An appliance to maintain the space between teeth.
Splint – A device used to support, protect or immobilize oral structures that have been loosened, replanted, fractured or traumatized. Also refers to devices used in the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders.
Stomatitis – Inflammation of the membranes in the mouth.
Sublingual Glands – Major salivary glands located in the mucosa on the floor of the mouth.
Submandibular Glands – Walnut-sized major salivary glands located beneath the tongue.
Suture – Stitch used to repair incision or wound.
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T
Tempromandibular Joint (TMJ) – The joint that links the two parts of the jaw.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction – Abnormal functioning of temporomandibular joint; also refers to symptoms arising in other areas secondary to the dysfunction.
Torus – An outgrowth of bone. It usually develops on the roof of the mouth or around the premolar area on the lower jaw.
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U
Unerupted – Tooth/teeth that have not penetrated into the oral cavity.
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V
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.
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W
Wisdom Tooth – The eighth (also the last) tooth from the middle of the jaw.
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X
Xerostomia – Dry mouth.
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Y
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Z
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Fox Dental Associates
2 Iris St.
Asheville, NC 28803
Phone: 828-252-2791
Fax:828-251-2067
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American Dental Association | ICOI –  Implant Organization

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