Dental Terms


Teeth

Bicuspids/premolars
The teeth with two rounded points located between the eye teeth (cuspids) and the molars.
Centrals/laterals
The four front teeth.
Cusp
The pointed or rounded part of a tooth’s biting surface.
Cuspids
The teeth near the front of the mouth that come to a single point. Sometimes called the "eye teeth" or "canines."
Molars
Teeth with a broad chewing surface for grinding food, located in the back of the mouth.

Endodontics

Treatment of the root and nerve of the tooth.

Periapical
The area surrounding the end of a tooth root.
Post and core
An anchor placed in the tooth root following a root canal to strengthen the tooth and help hold a crown (cap) in place.
Pulp
The blood vessels and nerve tissue inside a tooth.
Root canal treatment
The removal of the pulp tissue of a tooth due to decay or injury.

Orthodontics

Straightening or moving misaligned teeth and/or jaws with braces and/or surgery.

Malocclusion
Incorrect position of biting or chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.
Retainer
A device used to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment.

Pediatric Dentistry

The dental specialty devoted to the treatment of children.

Nursing bottle syndrome
Severe decay in baby teeth due to sleeping with a bottle of milk or juice. The drink’s natural sugars combine with bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that decays teeth.
Pediatric dentist
A specialist who treats children from birth through adolescence.
Sealant
A thin plastic material used to cover the biting surface of a child’s tooth to prevent tooth decay.

Periodontics

Treatment of gums, tissue and bone that supports the teeth.

Gingivitis
An inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth caused by a buildup of plaque or food particles.
Periodontitis/gum disease
Chronic inflammation and destruction of supporting bone and tissue membrane around the roots of teeth.
Root planing
A treatment of periodontal disease that involves scraping the roots of a tooth to remove bacteria and tartar.

Prosthodontics

Replacement of missing teeth with artificial materials, such as a bridge or denture.

Bridges
Nonremovable tooth replacements attached to adjoining natural teeth when one or a few teeth are missing.
Dentures
Removable artificial teeth in a plastic base that rests directly on the gums. A denture may be complete or partial depending on the number of missing natural teeth.
Implant
A support for a bridge or denture that has been surgically placed into bone.
Overdenture
A prosthetic device supported by implants or the roots of at least two natural teeth to provide better stability for the denture.
Pontic
The portion of a dental bridge that replaces missing teeth.

Restorations

Replacement of missing or damaged tooth structure with artificial materials.

Amalgam
A silver filling. Used for more than a century, amalgam fillings are proven to be safe, cost-effective and durable.
Cast restoration
A procedure that uses a model of the tooth (an impression) to make a casting which replaces missing parts. Example: a crown.
Crown/jacket/cap
The artificial covering of a tooth with metal, porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. Crowns cover teeth weakened by decay or severely damaged or chipped.
Inlay
A solid filling cast to fit the missing portion of the tooth and cemented into place. An onlay covers one or more tooth cusps.
Resin/composite
Tooth-colored filling material used primarily for front teeth. Although cosmetically superior, it is generally less durable than other materials.

Other Dental Terms

Attrition
The normal wearing down of the surface of a tooth from chewing.
Bleaching
A technique that lightens the color of heavily stained teeth.
Bonding
A technique to bind a filling or filling material to a tooth. Bonding materials may be used to repair chipped, cracked, misshapen or discolored teeth or to fill in a gap between teeth.
Bruxism
Involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth.
Caries
Tooth decay, which leads to a cavity.
Facing
A plastic or porcelain surface placed on the front of a tooth or crown for a natural appearance.
Impacted tooth
A tooth beneath the gum tissue that lies against another tooth, under bone or soft tissue, which is unlikely to grow out on its own.
Laminate veneer
A thin plastic or porcelain shell applied to the front of a tooth to restore, strengthen or improve its appearance.
Plaque
A bacteria-containing substance that collects on the surface of teeth. Plaque can cause decay and gum irritation when it is not removed by daily brushing and flossing.
Prophylaxis
A professional cleaning to remove plaque, calculus (mineralized plaque) and stains to help prevent dental disease.