Glossary

Have you ever been to a dentist and felt like he was speaking in Greek? There are so many dental terms we can write a dictionary, but here are some basic terms that may help you understand your dentist better.

Abscess – a swelling caused by an infection producing pus.

Abutment – a tooth or implant used to support an artificial tooth restoration such as a crown

Amalgam – a combination of metals, usually including silver, nickel and mercury used to filled cavities in teeth

Anterior – term referring to the front area of the mouth

Bonding – a cosmetic procedure in which teeth are reshaped with composite resin in order to close gaps and improve appearance

Braces – device used to straighten teeth

Bridge – a fixed (non-removable) replacement for one or more missing teeth which is supported by remaining teeth, or implants.

Bruxism – the habit of grinding or clenching teeth, done unconsciously.

Calculus – hardened deposit of mineral salts formed around the teeth, also known as tartar

Caries – tooth decay

Composite resin – a tooth-colored filling material

Crown – a fixed prosthesis used to restore a badly broken down tooth to its normal shape and size

Deciduous teeth – first set of teeth that is later replaced by permanent teeth, also known as baby teeth or milk teeth

Dentin – an internal layer of the tooth structure, surrounding the pulp and covered by enamel

Denture – a partial or full set of artificial removable teeth

Enamel – the hard white outer covering of the tooth

Gingivitis – a condition in which the gums are red, swollen and bleeds easily

Halitosis – bad breath

Impacted tooth – a tooth is which is unable to grow into a normal position because it is stuck or jammed between teeth, against teeth, or bone.

Implant – a fixture inserted into the bone in order to provide support for a crown, bridge or denture

Mandible – the lower jawbone

Maxilla – the upper jawbone

Plaque – a thin film on the surface of teeth made up of material in saliva containing bacteria

Pontic – an artifical tooth, the part of a bridge that replaces a lost tooth.

Post – a metal or carbon fiber rod inserted in a tooth that has had a root canal therapy in order to support or retain a crown

Posterior – term refering to the back part of the mouth

Pulp – soft, spongy tissue in the center of the tooth containing blood vessels and nerves

Pulpectomy – the complete removal of the tooth’s pulp

Root canal – space in the root of a tooth that contains pulp tissue

Root canal therapy – a procedure in which the root canal is cleaned of infected material, shaped and filled

Sealants – a material placed in the deep pits and grooves of teeth to help prevent decay

TMJ – Tempero-Mandibular-Joint: the joint connecting our upper and lower jaws

Xerostomia – Dry mouth