Date: May 23, 2011 Richard Jones

Dental Glossary – Dental, Cosmetic and Dental Implant Terms Explained.

Here you can find a list of dental terms, (dental glossary, cosmetic dentistry glossary and dental Implant glossary) explained in plain english. If you have any dental terms that you need clarity on, please do send us a message below.

1. ABSCESS – refers to a local infection, which can sometimes be caused by trauma, periodontal disease or decay. An abscessed area is often characterized by pain or swelling.

2. ABUTMENT – the teeth that are located on either side of a missing tooth.

3. ACRYLIC RESIN – made of plastic, the material commonly used for making dentures.

4. ACTIVE ERUPTION – the movement of a tooth as it emerges from the jaw.

5. ADJUSTMENTS – changes made on a dental prosthesis after it has been created, completed and positioned in the mouth.

6. AESTHETIC DENTISTRY – refers to dental procedures and treatments that have the end-goal of improving the appearance (as well as the function) of a person’s teeth.

7. ALLERGY – abnormal or unfavourable reactions to a certain substances, medications or organisms.

8. ALVEOLAR BONE – the mineralized bone tissue housing the tooth sockets on bones; these sockets are in turn where the teeth rest. Alveolar bone loss may be caused by periodontal diseases.

9. ALVEOLAR CREST – the highest point of the alveolar ridge, which extends beyond the tooth’s socket. The location of the alveolar crest slightly moves upwards as the tooth erupts.

10. AMALGAM- also referred to as a “silver filling”. Amalgams are alloys that contain Mercury as one of the metals. Approximate percentages of the substances or components of an amalgam are given below:

• Mercury (Hg): 50%

• Silver (Ag): 35%

• Tin (Sn): 13%

• Copper (Cu): 0%-3%

• Zinc (Zn): 0% – 1%

11. AMALGAM FILLINGS – dental fillings made from a combination of a number of components, which are commonly made up of different types of metals.

12. ANAEROBIC BACTERIA – bacteria that can develop even without oxygen. This kind of bacteria is commonly associated with periodontal disease development.

13. ANAESTHESIA – the inability to feel pain or the loss of sensation on specific body parts, which usually results from the administration of a medical intervention, a drug or a specific substance.

14. ANTIBIOTICS – substances that come from or are produced by bacteria, which in turn has the capability to inhibit or kill other bacteria.

15. ANTIMICROBIAL – the capacity to destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria or different microorganisms.

16. ANTIMICROBIAL THERAPY – a treatment process that results to the prevention or growth of bacteria or microorganisms.

17. ANATOMICAL CROWN – the portion of the tooth protected and coated with enamel.

18. APICAL FORAMEN – the opening of the tooth root (positioned at the tooth’s end). The apical foramen is where the tooth receives blood and nerve supply.

19. APICECTOMY –removal of the tip of the tooth’s root through a surgical procedure. An apicectomy is usually done before the cavity of the root end is filled with a biocompatible material.

20. ARTICULATOR – a mechanical device used to make reproductions of the jaw’s functional movements to casts.

21. ASPIRATOR – a tube which looks like a straw, which the dentist places in the mouth of the patient for suctioning tasks.

22. ATTRITION – refers to the wearing away of the structure of the tooth. Attrition can be caused by normal usage and the friction that occurs.

23. BABY TEETH & TEETHING – the first set of teeth a human being will have which starts to erupt or appears when an infant turns six months old. The teething process can be an uncomfortable period for an infant, and can result to swollen gums and high body temperatures.

24. BASE – substance resembling cement that is commonly used to protect dental fillings from sensitivity to extremely cold or hot (low or high) temperatures.

25. BLACK HAIRY TONGUE – a tongue infection that affects the tongue’s surface papillae. A black hairy tongue is characterized by a brown or black appearance that is usually fuzzy.

26. BLADE IMPLANTS – dental implant types that belong to the “endosseus” dental implant category. Blade implants are positioned in the jaw with the prong (or prongs) protruding into the mouth, above the gum line. The prongs will then act as anchors where prosthetic teeth will be attached to.

27. BLEACHING – the cosmetic lightening or whitening of the teeth’s colour using peroxide.

28. BONDING – covering the tooth’s surface to address badly-stained or damaged teeth.

29. BONE GRAFTING – a surgical method of replacing or augmenting missing or insufficient bone mass with the use of new bone, or other bone grafting material. The material used for a bone grafting procedure can come from the following sources: the patient’s own body (his own bone matter), from another human donor, from an animal, or from other bone grafting materials.

30. BRIDGE – a fixed dental prosthesis used to replace lost or missing teeth. A dental bridge is composed of a number of crowns attached together (called pontics and abutments).

31. BRUXISM – the condition referring to teeth grinding, usually in an unconscious or uncontrollable way. Nocturnal bruxism is very common in people who experience bruxism problems; however, daytime teeth grinding or bruxism is also known to happen, especially when dealing with suppressed emotions.

32. CALCULUS – hard deposits that look like calcium, which form on teeth surfaces, as well as on dentures.

33. CANKER SORES – small ulcers or sores that develop inside the mouth.

34. CANTILEVER BRIDGE – a dental implant type that is used to fill in the gap resulting from missing teeth. A cantilever bridge is used when only one side of the gap has existing natural, healthy teeth.

35. CARIES – the medical term used for referring to tooth decay, which occurs when the tooth’s dentine disintegrates because of acid-causing bacteria. Dental caries can also result from the decalcification of the tooth enamel.

36. CAST – a stone or plaster reproduction of the mouth.

37. CEMENT – a substance used in dentistry to seal crowns, inlays and onlays. Cement can also be used for pupal protection.

38. CLASP – the denture’s metal part that acts as the dental device’s support. A clasp is also used to put together the different parts of the prosthesis, and to attach the prosthesis to the surrounding abutments or natural teeth.

39. COMPOSITE FILLING – a restorative material that looks just like the natural appearance and colour of a tooth.

40. COSMETIC DENTISTRY – the branch of dentistry dealing with the improvement of a patient’s teeth from an aesthetic point of view.

41. DEBRIDEMENT – a process used to treat bacterial infection by removing irritants, such as bacteria or calculus.

42. DECALCIFICATION – calcium loss on the teeth which results to the teeth being more susceptible to decay. Decalcification also results to overall tooth structure weakening.

43. DELAYED IMPLANT PLACEMENT – the method of placing the dental implants a few months or years after the tooth has been extracted, usually with the tissues surrounding the area being fully healed before the dental implant placement.

44. DENTAL HYPNOSIS – a method used to provide dental patients with a relaxed, calm feeling before undergoing dental procedures or treatments.

45. DENTAL CROWNS – caps that resemble how a natural tooth looks like. Dental crowns are used to cover a natural tooth (or a set of teeth) to improve that particular tooth’s function and appearance.

46. DENTAL IMPLANT – an artificial root and tooth that is designed to replace a missing tooth (or teeth).

47. DENTAL INLAYS – used by dental professionals to repair the damages on a tooth’s biting surface.

48. DENTAL ONLAYS – used by dental professionals in repairing the damages to more than one of the tooth’s cusps. Dental onlays are commonly used for reconstructions that are considered to be more extensive for dental inlays to deal with.

49. DENTAL PHOBIA – experiencing extreme anxiety or fear caused by the idea of going for a dental visit, or the thought of undergoing any dental procedure or treatment.

50. DENTAL CT SCAN – refers to the process of obtaining clear images of the teeth and other parts of the mouth. A dental CT scan can show three-dimensional images without exposing the patient to radiation from conventional X-rays.

51. DENTAL TOOTH FILLINGS – substances used to fill a tooth cavity, to inhibit infection and bacteria from further developing. Dental tooth filling types include: silver amalgam, composite and temporary tooth fillings.

52. DENTAL TRAUMA – any injury or trauma that affects the mouth and the surrounding areas. Dental trauma can include injuries that affect the teeth, gums, lips, the jaw area and the tongue.

53. DENTAL VENEERS – custom-made shells that are made from a material closely resembling the appearance of natural teeth. Dental veneers are used to improve the appearance of teeth, which may have been affected by tooth decay, cracks or discoloration.

54. DISINFECTION – a method of cleaning to destroy majority of microorganisms, although highly-resistant forms of microorganisms such as mycotic or bacterial spores may not be addressed with a disinfection process.

55. DRY MOUTH – a mouth problem or condition that is caused by decreased saliva production.

56. EDENTULOUS – refers to being toothless or the absence of teeth.

57. ENAMEL – the hard, white and shiny surface of the crown of the tooth. The tooth enamel is made up of 95% hydroxypatite.

58. EROSION – the chemical destruction of the structure of the tooth, most often due to the presence of acidic substances like gastric juices. Tooth erosion does not commonly occur by itself, and is often accompanied by different degrees of tooth attrition or abrasion (or both). Tooth erosion can be avoided by decreasing or eliminating the consumption of food and drinks high in acidity, such as fruit juices and citrus fruits.

59. EXTRACTION – the process of removing teeth to prevent the spread of tooth decay and infection.

60. FACIAL LINE REDUCTION – the cosmetic process of significantly reducing unsightly facial lines. Facial line reduction can be addressed through chemical peels, application of retinoids, Botox injections or laser skin rejuvenation.

61. FEAR OF DENTIST – a state of extreme anxiety or fear resulting from the idea of having to go to the dentist for a dental checkup, or from the thought of having to undergo dental procedures.

62. FIN IMPLANTS – dental implant types that are generally used for patients who have thin jaw bone ridges, so dental implants can be placed without needing a bone grafting procedure.

63. FLAP SURGERY – a complicated dental surgical procedure involving the lifting of the gum away from the bone, to access the area covered by the gums.

64. FLOSSING – the process of using a dental floss (a material used to help in proper dental hygiene resembling a string) to remove plaque from the spaces between the teeth, as well as in the places between the tooth and the gum line.

65. FLUORIDE – a liquid or gel substance applied topically to the teeth, to inhibit the development of tooth decay.

66. GERIATRIC DENTIST – a dentist specializing in the dental treatment of elderly patients or senior citizens.

67. GINGIVITIS – inflamed or swollen gums which are most often caused by the development of plaque. If left untreated, gingivitis may lead to more serious gum diseases (periodontitis) and may eventually result to tooth loss.

68. GOLDEN PROPORTION – a guideline used by dentists to determine a tooth’s most pleasing aesthetic appearance, as the teeth have to maintain a specific width-to-height ratio to obtain the most visually appealing results.

69. GUM CONTOURING – the method of reshaping the gums of a patient with the goal of making the overall smile appearance more aesthetically pleasing. Gum contouring is commonly used to address issues of “gummy” smiles, with the use of a concentrated laser ray of light.

70. HALITOSIS – more commonly referred to as “bad breath”, halitosis can be an embarrassing condition that is characterized by the presence of foul mouth odour. Halitosis can be addressed effectively with proper dental hygiene practices and regular visits to the dentist. There are, however, also halitosis cases caused by a number of underlying medical conditions.

71. HYDROGEN PEROXIDE – a substance commonly used as an antiseptic. Hydrogen peroxide is also a common ingredient in dental whitening products and mouthwashes.

72. IMMEDIATE DENTURES – complete or partial dentures that are produced before the natural teeth are extracted.

73. IMMEDIATE IMPLANT LOADING – the immediate use of a dental implant, right after it has been placed. The area where the dental implant is placed can immediately be used for biting, so a patient will not have to wait for a long period of time to maximize the use of the dental implants.

74. IMMEDIATE IMPLANTS PLACEMENT – the method of teeth extraction and the placement of dental implants done at the same time, with no waiting period in between the two dental procedures.

75. IMPACTION – unerupted or partially erupted tooth that cannot fully come out from underneath the gum line, often because of an obstruction in the impacted tooth’s area.

76. IMPLANT – a metal device placed or implanted directly into the jaw bone, which will serve as an anchor for prosthetic teeth to be attached to. Both the prosthetic teeth and the dental implant will replace the form and function of lost or missing teeth.

77. INCISION – a dental process that involves cutting away an abscessed portion. An incision is often accompanied by the process of drainage, to drain out the fluid that may cause further infection.

78. INVISALIGN – a system that promotes the proper alignment of teeth without using traditional metal brackets. Invisalign makes use of clear, removable aligners which can effectively deal with minor teeth movements or alignments into the desired position – in an “invisible” or barely visible way.

79. LASER DENTISTRY – refers to dental treatments carried out with the use of modern laser technology.

80. LASER TEETH WHITENING – a less-invasive way of whitening the teeth, through the use of modern laser technology.

81. MALOCCLUSION – a dental problem or condition caused by the lower and upper jaws not fitting together properly or comfortably when a person is chewing or biting.

82. MASTICATION – the process of biting and chewing on food so it can be swallowed without difficulties.

83. MICRO ABRASION – a dental procedure that does not use a dental drill. Micro abrasion uses a device resembling a small sand blaster, which effectively delivers small aluminium oxide particles to the surface of the teeth.

84. MINI DENTAL IMPLANTS – mini dental implants are smaller in diameter compared to conventional dental implants. The placement method of mini dental implants is less invasive, which results to very minimal to no downtime and trauma for the patient. Mini dental implants are commonly used to provide support for removable dentures, and these dentures can immediately be used after the mini implants are placed.

85. MOUTH GUARD – refers to a soft dental device that comfortably fits into the mouth area; a mouth guard protects the teeth and other parts of the inner mouth from trauma or injury.

86. NERVE REPOSITIONING/LATERALISATION – the process of repositioning or moving the inferior alveolar nerve before the placement of dental implants. A nerve lateralisation is necessary when the patient has insufficient bone mass in the lower jaw bone, and the dental implants placement will be nearly impossible to do without damaging the inferior alveolar nerve.

87. NERVOUS PATIENTS – refers to individuals experiencing mild dental phobia, who may feel a small amount of anxiety when going to the dentist for checkups or for other dental procedures.

88. NHS DENTISTRY – includes all dental treatment that is, in a dentist’s opinion, necessary in the protection and maintenance of good oral health. Cosmetic dental treatments, such as dental veneers or dental whitening, are not included in NHS dental treatments.

89. OCCLUSAL – refers to the biting surfaces of the teeth.

90. ORAL THRUSH – a dental infection that is caused by a yeast fungus. Oral thrush is a very common dental issue seen in babies, which causes irritation inside the baby’s mouth. Oral thrush may also be present in adults who wear dentures, and those who experience chemical imbalances (through medications, medical conditions or chemotherapy treatments).

91. ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY – the treatment and diagnosis of conditions pertaining to the jaw, face, mouth and neck.

92. ORTHODONTICS – a branch of dentistry dealing primarily with the prevention and correction of teeth irregularities.

93. PANOREX – a single large X-ray showing all of the patient’s teeth in a single film. The X-ray is taken outside the mouth.

94. PEDODONTICS – a branch of dentistry mainly dealing with the mouth conditions and teeth of children. Pedodontics encompasses the overall dental health of children from the time they are born, up until their adolescence period.

95. PERIODONTICS – a branch of dentistry that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum diseases. A dentist performs a Periodontal Examination to determine the status of the patient’s overall teeth and gum health.

96. PERIODONTIST – a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum diseases; a periodontist is also responsible for dealing with the conditions affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth.

97. POLISHING – a dental procedure that is done to remove dental stains and plaque, with the use of an abrasive polishing paste in a rubber cup; this rubber cup is in turn attached to a hand piece that is held by the dentist.

98. PONTIC – a part of the dental bridge that takes the replacement of a missing tooth (or teeth). A pontic can be attached to a fixed or removable dental appliance.

99. PORCELAIN VENEER – ultra-thin shells that resemble the colour and appearance of natural teeth; the veneer is bonded to the front of the tooth, usually to improve the appearance of discoloured or badly stained teeth.

100. POST (DENTAL IMPLANT POST) – the part of the dental implant structure that is used to connect to the top of the dental implant in a precise manner.

101. POST EXTRACTION PLACEMENT – the method involving a waiting period (from a number of weeks to a few months) for the dental implants to finally be placed, after the tooth extraction procedure.

102. PROCERA – a porcelain crown type that is considered to be one of the strongest all-porcelain crowns available for dental purposes. The Procera framework consists of computer-generated porcelain, which will then be added to the structure of the crown.

103. PROPHYLAXIS – the process of cleaning the teeth and removing plaque, to inhibit the development of tooth decay or tooth caries.

104. PROSTHETICS – a fixed or removable dental appliance used as to replace missing teeth. Bridges and dentures are some of the dental appliances or prosthetics used to replace lost or missing teeth.

105. PULP – the tooth part containing nerves and blood vessels. The pulp is the tooth’s soft substance. Pulpectomy is the process of removing the infected tooth pulp.

106. RADIOSURGERY – a surgical process using radio waves to produce a dental incision without blood and without putting pressure in the affected area.

107. RAMUS FRAME IMPLANTS – a one-piece rail suspended above the patient’s gum line. Ramus frame dental implants are made of titanium and are specifically designed to be used in the lower jaw – usually where no natural teeth remains.

108. RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY – a specialty or branch of dentistry that deals with the restoration of missing, diseased or damaged teeth to their natural function and form.

109. RETAINERS – custom-made dental appliances that are commonly used after dental surgery, the removal of dental braces or any other dental procedure/treatment that deals with the proper alignment of teeth.

110. ROOT CANAL THERAPY (RCT) – a dental procedure that is done to save a tooth that has been abscessed. During a root canal therapy procedure, the tooth’s pulp chamber is thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and closed with a permanent dental filling.

111. ROOT FORM IMPLANTS – also referred to as “endosseus” or “endosteal” implants, root form dental implants are the most common implants used all over the world. Root form implants are inserted directly into the jawbone, and have two sub-types: screw and cylindrical.

112. ROOT PLANING – the method of removing hard deposits from the surface of the root of the tooth, which is located below the gum line.

113. ROUTINE DENTISTRY – regular dental treatments, procedures or checkups that help in ensuring that a patient maintains good dental health care.

114. SEDATION DENTISTRY – also called “sleep dentistry”, sedation dentistry enables a patient to feel relaxed and calm when undergoing dental treatments. Sedation dentistry is effective in allowing patients who have dental phobias to get the dental health care treatments they need, without experiencing fear or anxiety.

115. SINUS GRAFTING – also referred to as a “sinus lift”, this is the procedure of lifting the sinus membrane to effectively position a bone graft onto the sinus floor. Sinus grafting is done when there is insufficient bone mass in the sinus area to support the placement of a dental implant.

116. SMILE MAKEOVER – involves one or more cosmetic dentistry procedures with the goal of improving and enhancing the appearance of a person’s smile.

117. SUBPERIOSTEAL IMPLANTS – custom-made dental implants that are placed above a patient’s jaw bone, just underneath the gum line. The subperiosteal implants’ light metal framework is usually used to secure a patient’s dentures, in those cases when the jaw bone is insufficient because it has receded or atrophied.

118. TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ) – the joint or hinge connecting the lower jaw to the base of the skull. A TMJ Disorder is caused by problems resulting from the improper movement or similar conditions of the temporomandibular joint.

119. TMJ TREATMENT – a treatment or series of treatments used to address TMJ problems or concerns. Some of the TMJ treatments that can be done are stress management, physical therapy, medications and surgery.

120. TETRACYCLINE STAINING – caused by the antibiotic tetracycline, these teeth stains are some of the most difficult ones to remove. These severe discolorations result from the intake of tetracycline antibiotic medications during childhood, or during the teeth formation phase for an individual.

121. VIRGIN TEETH – teeth that do not have any form of dental caries or tooth decay, or those that are free from any dental restorations.

122. WISDOM TOOTH – refers to any of the last four teeth on each side of the upper and lower jaws. An impacted wisdom tooth can result from the wisdom tooth growing sideways, which may necessitate a wisdom tooth extraction.

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