Oral Health Terms Glossary

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Abrasion — Wear on a tooth caused by a mechanical process, like brushing too hard, holding things in your teeth, and other abnormal actions. This type of wear is similar to attrition, which is caused by tooth-to-tooth contact, such as grinding.
Abscess — An abscess in the mouth is localized buildup of pus by an area of infection, typically around a tooth or in the gums. The inflammation and swelling can destroy oral tissue. Possibly acute (comes on suddenly, lasts a short time, and typically painful) or chronic (develops slowly and often with no pain).
Abutment — A natural tooth or implanted tooth substitute that supports a removable partial denture or fixed bridge work.
Acid etching — A process that prepares the tooth surface for the bonding of a tooth-colored filling or sealant by roughening the tooth enamel with a weak acid solution.
Alloy — A mixture of two or more metals created to provide better performance, like more strength or corrosion resistance. The mixture usually refers to dental amalgam (a blend of silver, tin, mercury and traces of other metals).
Alveolar Bone — The bone that attaches to the teeth.
Alveoloplasty — A surgical procedure that reshapes the bone that supports the teeth.
Amalgam — A mixture of different metals, such as mercury, silver, tin and copper, used to fill cavities is called amalgam and is often referred to as a “silver filling.”
Anatomical crown — The visible part of a tooth covered by enamel .
Anesthetic — A class of drugs that eliminates or reduces pain. See local anesthetic.
Anterior — Refers to the teeth and tissues located towards the front of the mouth (upper or lower incisors and canines).
Antibiotic prophylaxis — The use of antibiotics before exposure to bacteria to prevent or reduce the risk for an infection is antibiotic prophylaxis or premedication.
Apex — The tip or end of the root of the tooth.
Apexogenesis — Pulp therapy in a developing tooth that encourages growth of a tooth’s roots is called apexogenesis.
Apicoectomy — TA surgical procedure to remove the tip of the tooth’s root end is apicoectomy, which is typically performed if an infection persists after a root canal procedure.
Arch — Describes the alignment of the upper or lower teeth.
Artificial crown (crown or cap) — A tooth-shaped replacement or covering for the visible part of the tooth usually damaged by decay or trauma.
Avulsion — When a tooth is knocked out of its socket usually due to trauma, avulsion occurs.


Band — A metal ring put around a tooth with cement as part of orthodontic treatment is a band, which can hold various attachments to assist with tooth movement.
Base — Cement placed under a dental restoration to insulate the pulp (nerve chamber).
Bicuspid — Teeth located between the canines and molars that have two cusps or pointed areas on top are bicuspid, or more commonly called premolars.
Bifurcation (trifurcation) — Juncture of two (or three) roots in posterior teeth.
Biopsy — A process of removing tissue to determine the existence of pathology.
Bite — Relationship of the upper and lower teeth on closure (occlusion).
Bitewing — A bitewing X-ray shows the crowns of the upper and lower molar and premolar teeth when biting down.
Black Hairy Tongue — Elongated papillae on the tongue, promoting the growth of microorganisms.
Bleaching — A teeth whitening process that chemically removes stains that have penetrated the tooth enamel and cannot be removed by cleaning and polishing alone.
Block Injection — Anesthesia of a nerve trunk that covers a large area of the jaw; a mandibular block injection produces numbness of the lower jaw, teeth and half of the tongue.
Bonding — The process by which a tooth-colored resin filling material is firmly connected to the natural tooth to repair or change its shape or color is bonding. It follows acid-etching of the tooth. Bonding also describes how an orthodontic bracket is affixed or “cemented” to the tooth.
Bone Loss — A decrease in the amount of bone that supports a tooth or implant.
Bridge — An appliance that replaces missing teeth by securely attaching an artificial tooth or teeth to the natural teeth or dental implants next to it is a bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture. It cannot be removed by the patient.
Bruxism — An unconscious habit of grinding or clenching of the teeth, which often happens when a person is sleeping, but may also occur while awake.
Buccal — Of or near the inside surface of the cheeks or surfaces of the teeth or restorations nearest the cheeks is the buccal area.


Calcium — Chemical element needed for healthy teeth, bones and nerves.
Calculus — A hard deposit of minerals coated with bacterial plaque that can attach to and build up on the teeth and cause gum inflammation is calculus, also known as tartar. It cannot be brushed off and is removed during a professional cleaning.
Canine Tooth — The second tooth from the large front tooth, commonly called the eye tooth or cuspid.
Canker Sore — Mouth sore appearing whitish, often with a red halo, of ten to fourteen day duration.
Cantilever Bridge — A fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth only on one end.
Cap — Another term for crown; usually referring to a crown for a front tooth.
Caries — The technical name for tooth decay is caries, which is a dental disease process where the tooth surfaces are slowly destroyed by acid-producing bacteria. Also, see cavities.
Cast or Model — Reproduction of structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold.
Cavities — An area of a tooth that is damaged due to caries, erosion or abrasion is a cavity, also called carious lesion, when caused by caries.
Cement — A special type of glue used to hold a crown in place. It also acts as an insulator to protect the tooth’s nerve.
Cementum — The thin, hard tissue that covers the root of a tooth.
Clasp — A part of a removable partial denture that directly retains or stabilizes a denture.
Cleaning — Removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) from teeth, generally above the gum line. Example: "Dentists recommend scheduling two routine cleanings each year."
Cleft Palate — A birth defect that occurs when the tissues that make up the roof of the mouth do not join together completely, resulting in an opening in the soft and/or hard palate is cleft palate. This failure of tissues to fully join can also occur on the upper lip — cleft lip.
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.
Complete Denture — A removable dental prosthesis that replaces all upper or lower teeth is complete denture.
Composite — A tooth-colored resin filling material used to repair teeth is a composite and is the most common type of filling placed. Composite may be reinforced with several types of filler substances. It is bonded to the remaining natural tooth surface.
Core Buildup — Replacing a large part of the missing natural tooth with a filling material, when there is insufficient tooth structure to retain a prosthetic crown.
Cosmetic dentistry — Procedures and services conducted solely to improve one’s esthetic appearance.
Cross Bite — Reverse biting relationship of upper and lower teeth; a.k.a. "under bite," as in Class III malocclusion (prognathic jaw).
Crown — The enamel-covered top part of a tooth, but also refers to an artificial restorative cover following an implant, a root canal, fracture or structural tooth loss from decay.
Crown Lengthening — A surgical procedure that exposes more of the tooth crown to view.
Curettage — A deep scaling of the portion of the tooth below the gum line in order to remove tartar and infected gum tissue.
Cusp — One of the pointed parts on the top of a tooth that forms the chewing or biting surface.
Cuspid — A tooth with one cusp located between the incisors and premolars (bicuspids). Also, see canine tooth.
Cyst — A soft or hard tissue sac, solid or filled with fluid.


DDS — Doctor of Dental Surgery — equivalent to Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)
Decay — Common term for carious lesions on the tooth, resulting from destruction of tooth surface by acid-producing bacteria. Also, see cavities.
Deciduous teeth — The first teeth a child gets are deciduous teeth, also called primary teeth or baby teeth. There are 20 deciduous teeth, which are usually all in place around age two.
Debridement — Procedure for removing plaque and calculus so an oral evaluation (exam) can be performed.
Dental Floss — Thin strands of string-like material used to clean food, bacteria and other debris from between the teeth and around the gums that cannot be reached by brushing alone.
Dental Hygienist — A dental professional specializing in cleaning the teeth by removing plaque, calculus and diseased gum tissue. The hygienist acts as the patient’s guide in establishing a proper oral hygiene program. Also see hygienist.
Dental Implant — Usually a titanium cylinder surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw to provide support for a dental restoration or appliance.
Dentin — A hard, calcified material that makes up the bulk of a tooth is dentin. It is right below the enamel on the tooth crown and under the thin coating of cementum on the tooth root.
Dentition — The arrangement of natural or artificial teeth in the mouth.
Denture — An oral prosthetic to replace some missing teeth (partial denture) or all natural teeth (full or complete denture).
Diastema — Space between teeth.
Direct Pulp Cap — The procedure in which the exposed pulp is covered with a dressing or cement that protects the pulp and promotes healing and repair.
Dry Socket — Severe pain inside and around the tooth socket, which usually occurs one to three days after a tooth extraction, is dry socket. The condition is more common after wisdom tooth (third molar) extractions and usually requires a return to the dental office for post-operative care.


Enamel — The hard, calcified (mineralized) portion of the tooth which covers the crown. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body.
Endodontics — The dental specialty that deals with injuries to, or diseases of, the pulp or nerve of the tooth.
Endodontist — A dentist that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of tooth pain or infections, and performs root canals and other procedures involving the tooth nerve or pulp.
Epidemiology — Study of the incidence of disease in a population.
Erosion — A destructive process in which tooth surface is worn down by acids and not from bacteria is erosion. Common causes of erosion can include vomiting, stomach reflux, acidic carbonated sodas and sports drinks.
Eruption — Process of teeth protruding through the gums.
Excision — Surgical removal of bone or tissue.
Extracoronal — The outside of the crown of the tooth.
Extraoral — The outside of the mouth.
Extraction — The pulling or removal of all or part of a tooth is an extraction.
Eye Teeth — The four upper and lower canine (cuspid) teeth.


Facial surface — The side of a tooth facing the cheeks or lips, as opposed to the side facing the tongue, is facial surface.
Facing — Tooth colored overlay of the visible portion of a crown; may be acrylic, composite or resin.
Filling (restoration) — Material that is used to repair a damaged area of a tooth is a filling. It can be made of metals, plastic (resin) or porcelain.
Fistula — A bump or boil on the gum tissue, which is a tract through which an abscessed tooth can drain.
Fixed Partial Denture — A prosthetic for one or more missing teeth that is affixed (cemented) to an adjoining tooth or teeth and cannot be removed by the patient.
Flap Surgery — Lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures.
Floss — See dental floss.
Fluoride — A mineral that strengthens enamel and reduces dental decay. Contained in a high percentage of community tap water, fluoride is in most toothpastes, some mouthwashes and a number of professionally applied products.
Fluoride Varnish — A liquid containing fluoride that is painted onto the teeth and hardens is a fluoride varnish, which is used to prevent or reduce the risk for caries.
Forceps — Instrument used for removal of teeth.
Forensic Dentistry — Practice of gathering legal evidence for body identification or judicial issues.
Fossa — Valley found on the surface of posterior teeth.
Frenectomy — Removal or reshaping of thin muscle tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum, or the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
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 restore form and function.


General Anesthesia — 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.
Gingiva — Also known as the gums, gingiva is the soft tissues around the teeth.
Gingivectomy — A surgical procedure for removing gingiva to help restore periodontal (gum) health, or to improve esthetic appearance.
Gingivitis — An early form of periodontal (gum) disease, where the gums are inflamed and become red, swollen and bleed easily, is gingivitis. Plaque buildup is usually the cause of gingivitis.
Gingivoplasty — A surgical procedure to reshape or repair the gingiva (gums).
Graft — Tissue, bone or other material used to repair defects or deficiencies in oral structures are a type of graft.
Gum — See gingiva.
Gum Recession — Exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums as a result of abrasion, periodontal disease or surgery.


Hygienist — Professional who cleans teeth and provides patient education, administers local anesthetic, nitrous oxide and performs periodontal scaling. Also see dental hygienist.


Immediate Denture — A denture constructed for immediate placement after removal of the remaining teeth.
Impacted Tooth — A tooth that is blocked from coming up through the gums by another tooth, bone or soft tissue.
Implant — A device that is put into the jawbone to hold prosthesis, such as a crown or bridge.
Incision and Drainage — 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. The central incisors are the two large teeth in the middle of the mouth and the lateral incisors are next to the central incisor, one on each side.
Indirect Pulp Cap — A 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.
Inlay — A cast gold, porcelain or composite custom-made filling cemented into the tooth that is used to replace part of a tooth. If it covers the tips of the teeth or otherwise supports the tips, it is called an onlay.
Interproximal — The area between two adjacent teeth.
Intracoronal — The area within the crown of a tooth.
Intraoral — The inside of the mouth.


Labial — The area pertaining to, or around, the lip.
Laminate — Thin plastic or porcelain veneer produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to a tooth.
Laughing GasNitrous oxide; odorless inhalation agent that produces relative analgesic (sedation); reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation.
Lingual — The area pertaining to, or around, the tongue.
Lingual Surface — The side of a tooth facing the tongue, as opposed to the side facing the cheeks and lips, is the lingual surface.
Local Anesthetic — The injection given in the mouth to numb the areas where a tooth or area needs a dental procedure. Often referred to as Novocain.


Malocclusion — When the upper and lower teeth are not lined up well in order to bite and chew properly.
Mandible — The lower jaw.
Margin — Interface between a restoration and tooth structure.
Maryland Bridge — The trade name that has become synonymous with any resin bonded fixed partial denture (bridge).
Mastication — The act of chewing.
Maxilla — The upper jaw.
Metals, classification of — The noble metal classification system has been adopted as a more precise method of reporting various alloys in dentistry commonly used in crowns, bridges and dentures. These alloys contain varying percentages of gold, palladium and/or platinum. High noble contains more than 60% gold, palladium, and/or platinum (with at least 40% gold); noble contains more than 25% gold, palladium and/or platinum; predominately base contains less than 25% gold, palladium and/or platinum.
Microabrasion — A conservative method using acid-etching and mild abrasives for removing surface stains and irregularities on the outer enamel layer of a tooth.
Molars — The broad, multicuspid back teeth, used for grinding food that are considered the largest teeth in the mouth. In adults, there are a total of twelve molars (including the four wisdom teeth or third molars), three on each side of the upper and lower jaws.
Mouthguard — A removable plastic device that a person wears over their teeth and gums to protect them from damage during sports.


Night Guard — A removable device that a person wears over their teeth at night to protect them from damage due to clenching or bruxism.
Nitrous Oxide — A controlled mixture of nitrogen and oxygen gases (N2O) that is inhaled by the patient in order to decrease anxiety. Also referred to as laughing gas.
Novacaine — A generic name for the many kinds of anesthetics used in the dental injection, such as Xylocaine, Lidocaine, or Novacaine. See local anesthetic.


Occlusal Surface — The chewing surface of the back teeth.
Occlusal X-ray — An intraoral X-ray taken with the film held between the teeth in biting position.
Occlusion — The relationship between the upper and lower teeth as they are brought into contact in order to bite and chew.
Ondontoplasty — A procedure that makes changes to the length, size and/or shape of a tooth.
Onlay — A cast gold or porcelain filling that covers one or all of the tooth’s cusps.
Operculum — A flap of gingival tissue over the crown of an erupting tooth.
Operculectomy — A procedure that removes the flap of tissue over an unerupted or partially erupted tooth.
Oral Hygiene — Activities you do to keep your mouth clean are related to oral hygiene. These include brushing your teeth, cheeks, tongue and dentures, or using mouthwash and dental floss. They also can include having a dentist or hygienist clean your teeth.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery — Surgical procedures on the mouth including extractions, removal of cysts or tumors and repair of fractured jaws.
Oral Pathologist — Dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases.
Oral Surgery — The removal of teeth and the repair and treatment of other oral problems, such as tumors and fractures.
Orthodontics — A specialized branch of dentistry that corrects malocclusion and restores the teeth to proper alignment and function. There are several different types of appliances used in orthodontics, one of which is commonly referred to as braces.
Orthodontist — A type of dentist that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, interception, guidance and correction of the tooth and jaw positions through use of braces and other devices.
Osseous — Composed of bone; resembling bone; capable of forming bone.
Overbite — A condition in which the upper teeth excessively overlap the lower teeth when the jaw is closed. This condition can be corrected with orthodontics.
Overdenture — A prosthetic denture that lies over preserved teeth roots or implants is an overdenture.


Palate — The hard and soft tissues that form the roof of the mouth.
Palliative — Treatment that relieves pain but is NOT curative.
Panorex — A full mouth X-ray (180 degree view) of the teeth, upper and lower jaws on one film.
Parasthesia — A partial loss of sensation; may be temporary or permanent.
Partial Denture — A prosthetic that replaces missing teeth is a partial denture. When it is cemented in place and cannot be removed by the patient, it is called a fixed bridge. When it can be removed and cleaned by the wearer, it is a removable partial denture.
Pediatric Dentistry — The specialized branch of dentistry that deals solely with treating children’s dental disease. Also referred to as pedodontics.
Peri-implantitis — An infection that develops around an implant, which can cause bone loss, is peri-implantitis.
Periapical — The area that surrounds the root tip of a tooth.
Pericoronitis — An inflammation of the gum tissue around the crown of a tooth — usually the third molar.
Periodontal — Relating to the tissue and bone that supports the tooth.
Periodontal Chart — Record measuring the depth of gum pockets around the teeth.
Periodontal Disease — Commonly known as gum disease, periodontal disease is caused by plaque. When the plaque is not removed, it can cause your gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. There are different degrees of periodontal disease, starting with easily reversible gingivitis.
Periodontal Pocket — A periodontal disease condition, resulting in a deep area between a tooth and gum that is difficult to clean and may result in further destruction if not corrected.
Periodontal Surgery — A surgical procedure involving the gums and jawbone.
Periodontics — The dental specialty that deals with the supporting gum tissue and bones of the periodontal ligament and the jawbone. Untreated bone loss can result in tooth loss.
Periodontist — A dentist who specializes in diagnosing, managing and treating the tissues that surround the teeth.
Periodontitis — A severe form of gum disease caused by plaque is periodontitis. It occurs when gingivitis is inadequately treated and gets worse. It can cause the gums and bones that support the teeth to break down. Teeth can then loosen and fall out.
Periradicular — The area which surrounds a portion of the root of the tooth.
Permanent Teeth — The 32 adult teeth that replace the baby or primary teeth; also known as secondary teeth.
Pit — A recessed area found on the surface of a tooth, usually where the grooves of the tooth meet.
Plaque — A sticky film of bacteria and other substances that coat the teeth every day is plaque. Brushing and flossing help remove plaque. If not removed regularly, plaque can lead to gum disease.
Pontic — An artificial tooth used in a bridge to replace a missing tooth.
Porcelain Crown — An all porcelain restoration covering the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum line).
Porcelain Veneers — 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 — Thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy; provides retention for a “coping” that replaces lost tooth structure and retains crown.
Post and Core — Post and build-up to replace lost tooth structure and retain crown.
Premolar — Another name for bicuspid.
Preventive Dentistry — Procedures and services administered to prevent the initiation, progression or recurrence of oral diseases is preventive dentistry, also considered a philosophy of practice.
Primary Teeth — The first set of teeth that humans get, lasting until the permanent teeth come in; also referred to as deciduous teeth or baby teeth.
Prognosis — The anticipated outcome of treatment.
Prophylaxis (Prophy) — A dental cleaning that consists of the removal of plaque, calculus and stains from the exposed and unexposed surfaces of the teeth by scaling and polishing, as a preventive measure for the control of local irritational factors, is prophylaxis.
Prosthesis (Dental Prosthesis) — A device designed to restore form and function to a defect in the mouth, like missing or damaged teeth and missing soft or hard structures of the jaws or palate, is prosthesis. Examples of dental prosthesis include crowns, fixed bridges, removable complete and partial dentures, and others.
Prosthodontics — The dental specialty dealing with the replacement of missing teeth and other oral structures.
Prosthodontist — Dental specialist skilled in restoring or replacing teeth with fixed or removable prosthesis (appliance), maintaining proper occlusion; treats facial deformities with artificial prostheses such as eyes, ears and noses.
Pulp — The hollow chamber inside the crown of the tooth that contains its nerves and blood vessels.
Pulp Cap — A medicated covering over a small area of exposed pulp tissue.
Pulp Chamber — The center or innermost portion of the tooth containing the pulp.
Pulpectomy — Removal of the entire pulp from the canals in the root.
Pulpitis — An often painful inflammation of the dental pulp or nerve.
Pulpotomy — A procedure that removes diseased pulp tissue.
Pyorrehea — Older term for periodontal (gum) disease.


Quadrant — One of the four equal sections into which the dental arches can be divided is a quadrant, typically referred to as upper and lower right and upper and lower left. The quadrant begins at the midline of the arch and extends to the last tooth.


Rebase — The process of refitting a denture by replacing the base material.
Recession — Occurs when the gums pull away from the teeth, often exposing the root.
Referral — When a dental patient from one office is sent to another dentist, usually a specialist, for treatment or consultation.
Reimplantation — When returning a natural tooth to its socket, after it has been knocked out, a reimplantation takes place. Infrequently an intentional tooth extraction is performed and the tooth is reinserted in an effort to save it.
Reline — The process of resurfacing the tissue side of a denture with a base material.
Removable Partial Denture — A dental prosthetic for missing teeth that is not fixed in place.
Replantation — The return of a tooth to its socket.
Resorption — The breakdown and assimilation of the bone that supports the tooth (i.e. bone loss).
Restoration — A kind of treatment that repairs or replaces teeth to return them to proper form and function is called a restoration, with examples including amalgams, composites, crowns, bridges, veneers and others.
Retained Root — Partial root structure remaining in the jaw after extraction or fracture of a natural tooth.
Retainer — A removable device that is worn in the mouth to prevent teeth from moving out of position is a retainer, which can be fixed in place or removable.
Retrograde Filling — A method of sealing the root canal by preparing and filling it from the root tip, generally done at the completion of an apicoectomy.
Risk Assessment — An overall evaluation of the factors that, if present, may increase the likelihood of disease occurrence or progression is a risk assessment.
Root — The bottom part of the tooth that anchors it in the jaw and is covered by bone and the gums.
Root Canal — A treatment that removes the tooth nerve (pulp) and seals the space formerly occupied by the nerve with an inert material is a root canal. A crown is then often recommended to cover the tooth to prevent it from breaking.
Root Planing — Procedure performed on tooth roots to remove rough cementum or dentin, bacteria, calculus and diseased surfaces.
Root Resection — Removal of a portion of the root structure of the diseased tooth, retaining the remaining natural tooth.
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 — Clear lubricating fluid in the mouth containing water, enzymes, bacteria, mucus, viruses, blood cells and undigested food particles.
Saliva Ejector — Suction tube placed in the mouth to remove saliva.
Salivary Glands — Glands located under tongue and in cheeks to produce saliva.
Scaling — A procedure that uses dental instruments to remove plaque, tartar and stains from teeth crown and root surfaces.
Scaling and Root Planing — Combined periodontal procedure performed for individuals with periodontitis and bone loss..
Sealant — A thin plastic (resin) coating that can be bonded into the grooves and pits on the biting surfaces of back teeth to keep food from getting packed in them and bacteria out to help prevent caries (cavities).
Six-year Molar — The first permanent tooth to erupt, usually between the ages of 5 and 6.
Sjögren Syndrome — An illness in which the immune system attacks the body's own cells is Sjögren syndrome. Primarily affecting women, Sjögren syndrome mainly causes dry mouth and dry eyes but can distress other areas of the body, like the joints.
Socket — The hole in the jawbone into which the tooth fits.
Space Maintainer — A dental appliance that fills the space of a lost tooth (or teeth) and prevents the other teeth from moving into the space; used especially in orthodontic and pediatric treatment.
Splint — Connection of two or more teeth so they function as a stronger single structure.
Stainless Steel Crown — A pre-made metal crown that is shaped like a tooth and used to temporarily cover a seriously decayed or broken tooth — used most often on children’s teeth.
Stomatitis — A general term for an inflamed and sore mouth is stomatitis, which can refer to anywhere in the mouth.
Subgingival Scaling — The removal of calculus and plaque found on the tooth below the gum line.
Sublingual — Under the tongue is sublingual.
Submandibular — Below the lower jaw is submandibular.
Supernumerary Teeth — Extra teeth beyond the normal 32 adult teeth.


Tartar — A hard deposit of minerals coated with bacterial plaque that can build up on the teeth and cause the gums to get inflamed is tartar, also known as calculus. It is scraped off when a dentist cleans your teeth.
TMD (or TMJ) Disorder — Temporomandibular disorder; term given to condition characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw. The temporomandibular joint is the point where the lower jaw attaches to the skull.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — The joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull is the temporomandibular.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) — Pain, clicking and other symptoms that are caused by problems with the temporomandibular joint and the associated muscles are referred to as temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Tooth Bud — Early embryonic structure that becomes a tooth.
Topical — Medications that are applied to the surface of the body or body part are topical. Topical fluoride in the form of gels or varnish is frequently applied to the teeth to help prevent caries (tooth decay).
Torus — Common bony protuberance on the palate or lower jaw.
Transplant — Placing a natural tooth in the empty socket of another tooth.
Trauma — Injury caused by external force, chemical or temperature extremes, or poor tooth alignment.
Treatment Plan — A written report prepared by a dentist showing their recommended treatment of any dental disease, defect or injury.


Unerrupted Tooth — A tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct position in the dental arch.


Veneer — A thin, custom-made shell that covers the front part of a tooth to correct its shape or color is a veneer, which is made to look and feel like a real tooth. Veneers can be made of porcelain, ceramic, composite or acrylic resin. Also, see laminate.


Wisdom Teeth — Third (last) molars that usually erupt at age 18- 25, also called third molars.


Xerostomia — Dry mouth caused by salivary glands that don’t work properly or reduced flow of saliva from medications is xerostomia, which can refer to an actual reduction or loss of saliva or the perceived feeling of dryness.
X-ray — An image of bones, teeth and restorations made with radiation is an X-ray, also referred to as a radiograph or radiographic image.