Glossary of Terms
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Glossary of Terms

Select the first letter of the dental term you are seeking to find a definition.

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Tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing such as holding objects between the teeth or improper brushing.

A tooth (or implant) that supports a dental prosthesis.

An alloy used in direct dental restorations.

Loss of pain sensations without loss of consciousness.

Removal of the tip of a tooth root.

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The mild character of an illness or the non-malignant character of a neoplasm.

A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.

Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.

Bitewing radiographs
X-rays used to reveal the crowns of several upper and lower teeth as they bite down.

A cosmetic dental procedure that whitens the teeth using a bleaching solution.

A composite resin applied to a tooth to change its shape and/or colour. Bonding also refers to how a filling, orthodontic appliance or some fixed partial dentures are attached to teeth.

See Fixed Partial Denture and/or Removable Partial Denture.

Constant grinding or clenching of teeth during the day or while asleep.

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Hard deposit of mineralised material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth.

A relatively narrow tubular passage or channel.

Root Canal: Space inside the root portion of a tooth containing pulp tissue.

Promotes tooth decay.

Decay in tooth caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.

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.

The clamping and pressing of the jaws and teeth together in centric occlusion, frequently associated with psychological stress or physical effort.

A dental restorative material made up of disparate or separate parts (e.g. resin and quartz particles).

Conscious Sedation
A state in which patients are awake and can breathe and swallow on their own but are less aware of what is taking place.


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.

The pointed portion of the tooth.

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Removing foreign matter or dead tissue.

The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.

Dental Prophylaxis
Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus, and stains.

Dental Prosthesis
An artificial device that replaces one or more missing teeth.

Dental Specialist
A dentist who has received postgraduate training in one of the recognized dental specialties.

Denture Base
The part of the denture that holds the artificial teeth and fits over the gums.

Dry Socket
Localized inflammation of the tooth socket following extraction due to infection or loss of blood clot; osteitis.

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Hard calcified tissue covering dentine of the crown of tooth.

A dental specialist who limits his/her practice to treating disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

Wearing down of tooth structure, caused by chemicals (acids).

When a tooth emerges or pushes through the gums.

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.

Surgical removal of bone or tissue.

The process or act of removing a tooth or tooth parts.

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A lay term used for the restoring of lost tooth structure by using materials such as metal, alloy, plastic or porcelain.

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.

Fixed Partial Denture
A fixed partial denture is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or attached to the abutment teeth or implant abutments adjacent to the space.

The breaking of a part, especially of a bony structure; breaking of a tooth.

Full-Mouth X-Rays
A combination of 14 or more periapical and 4 bitewing films of the back teeth. This series of
x-rays reveals all the teeth (their crowns and roots) and the alveolar bone around them.

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General Anaesthesia
A deep level of sedation in which patients lose consciousness, feel no pain, and have no memory of what is taking place around them.

Soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.

Inflammation of gingival tissue without loss of connective tissue.

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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Immediate Denture
Prosthesis constructed for placement immediately after removal of remaining natural teeth.

Impacted Tooth
An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.

Material inserted or grafted into tissue.

Dental Implant
A device specially designed to be placed surgically within or on the mandibular or maxillary bone as a means of providing for dental replacement; endosteal (endosseous); eposteal (subperiosteal); transosteal (transosseous).

An indirect intracoronal restoration; a dental restoration made outside of the oral cavity to correspond to the form of the prepared cavity, which is then luted into the tooth.

Between the teeth.

Inside the mouth.

Intravenous Sedation
Medications used intravenously (through the bloodstream) to produce varying levels of sedation.

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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.

Teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.

Device that fits over the teeth to prevent injury to 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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Obstructive Sleep Apnea
A disorder in which breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep.

Pertaining to the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth or contacting surfaces of opposing teeth or opposing occlusion rims.

Any contact between biting or chewing surfaces of maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth.

An indirect restoration made outside the oral cavity that overlays a cusp or cusps of the tooth, which is then luted to the tooth.

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.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the interception and treatment of malocclusion of the teeth and their surrounding structures.

Orthognathic Surgery
Surgery performed to correct facial imbalances caused by abnormalities of the jaw bones.

The process by which bone heals around an implant.

Surgical procedure that modifies the configuration of bone.

Surgical cutting of bone.

A removable prosthetic device that overlies and may be supported by retained tooth roots or implants.

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The hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities.

Partial Denture
Usually refers to a prosthetic device that replaces missing teeth; see Fixed Partial Denture or Removable Partial Denture.

Parotid Glands
Major salivary glands located in front of and below the ears.

Pediatric Dentist
A dental specialist whose practice is limited to treatment of children from birth through adolescence; formerly known as a pedodontist.

A thin nonbacterial film from saliva that covers the teeth.

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).

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.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.

Inflammation and loss of the connective tissue of the supporting or surrounding structure of teeth with loss of attachment.

A soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives.

An elongated projection fitted and cemented within the prepared root canal, serving to strengthen and retain restorative material and/or a crown restoration.

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.

The use of medications prior to dental procedures.

Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stains.

Artificial replacement of any part of the body.

A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth with artificial substitutes.

Connective tissue that contains blood vessels and nerve tissue which occupies the pulp cavity of a tooth.

Pulp Cavity
The space within a tooth which contains the pulp.

Complete removal of vital and non vital pulp tissue from the root canal space.

Surgical removal of a portion of the pulp with the aim of maintaining the vitality of the remaining portion by means of an adequate dressing; pulp amputation.

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An image produced by projecting radiation, as x-rays, on photographic film. Commonly called x-ray.

A cyst that can develop under the tongue on the floor of the mouth.

To replace the denture base.

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.


Orthodontic Retainer: Appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic

Prosthodontic Retainer: A part of a fixed partial denture that attaches a
pontic to the abutment tooth, implant abutment, or implant.

The anatomic portion of the tooth that is covered by cementum and is located in the alveolus (socket) where it is attached by the periodontal apparatus; radicular portion of tooth.

Root Canal
The portion of the pulp cavity inside the root of a tooth; the chamber within the root of the tooth that contains the pulp.

Root Canal Therapy
The treatment of disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

Root Caries
Tooth decay that forms on the roots.

Root Planing
A procedure designed to remove microbial flora, bacterial toxins, calculus, and diseased cementum or dentine on the root surfaces and in the pocket.

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Removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth.

Plastic resin placed on the biting surfaces of molars to prevent bacteria from attacking the enamel and causing caries.

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.

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.

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.

Stitch used to repair incision or wound.

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Temporary Removable Denture
An interim prosthesis designed for use over limited period of time.

Temporomandibular (TMJ)
The connecting hinge mechanism between the base of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jaw (mandible).

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
Abnormal functioning of temporomandibular joint; also refers to symptoms arising in other areas secondary to the dysfunction.

A bony elevation or protuberance of bone.

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In the construction of crowns or pontics, a layer of tooth-coloured material, usually, but not limited to, composite, porcelain, ceramic or acrylic resin, attached to the surface by direct fusion, cementation, or mechanical retention; also refers to a restoration that is luted to the facial surface of a tooth.


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Decreased salivary secretion that produces a dry and sometimes burning sensation of the oral mucosa and/or cervical caries.



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