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Dental Definitions: Glossary of Dental Terms

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-03-17 (Revised/Updated 2017-06-25) - Before your next dental visit brush up on some of the terms and definitions your dentist may use. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World.

Main Document

Quote: "Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics is the dental specialty that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures."

With the dental technology advancements that have been made in the last few decades, terms may come up in conversation that you have not heard before.

Definitions of Dental Terms

Amalgam - Silver-colored filling material; may also be referred to as a restoration or filling.

Bitewings - X-rays of the top and bottom molars and pre-molars to show decay between teeth or under fillings.

Bonding - Bonding is an adhesive dental restoration technique. Bonding is a procedure to adhere tooth-colored resin to the tooth's surface, creating a bond. Bonding is performed by Herrin cosmetic dentists with a tooth-colored composite resin to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth. Resin is used for bonding due to its similarities to enamel. The composite resin bonding process is where the resin is bonded to a tooth's surface, but then sculpted into shape, hardened, and polished.

Bridge - A non-removable appliance that replaces one or more missing teeth with false teeth and attaches to healthy teeth.

Calculus (Tartar) - Hardened plaque on teeth, requiring scaling to remove.

Caries - Cavities and decay.

Complete Mouth Survey - (CMS) Multiple X-rays taken of the entire dental structure. For an adult, approximately 16-21 films.

Composite - A tooth colored filling material; also referred to as a filling.

Cosmetic Dentistry - Beautifying teeth and smile through bleaching, bonding, closing spaces, and improving appearance of teeth.

Crown: A crown is a dental restoration performed by a Herrin cosmetic dentist covering all or almost all of your natural tooth. Crowns are covers, caps, or replacements used to restore the missing part of a damaged tooth.

DDS: DDS is short for "Doctor of Dental Surgery," DDS is equivalent to DMD.

DMD: DMD is short for "Doctor of Medical Dentistry," DMD is equivalent to DDS.

Edentulous - Having no teeth.

Endodontics - Endodontics is the branch of dentistry which is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues.

Gingiva - Gums.

Gingivitis - Inflammation of the gum tissue; common reversible gum disease that occurs when plaque is not removed.

Impacted - Describes a tooth not visible above the gum line.

Implant - An implant is a fixed dental appliance used for the replacement of a tooth by a Herrin cosmetic dentist. An artificial device replacing tooth root is often made of titanium. The implant may anchor an artificial tooth, bridge, or denture.

Impression - An impression is a mold made of the teeth and soft tissues by your dentist to get an accurate model of your mouth before having major implant, bridge, or denture work done. Impressions are also taken to properly fit custom mouth guards.

Inlays - A gold, porcelain or composite filling placed within the cusps of the tooth.

Intra-oral Camera - An intra-oral camera is a small video camera your dentist uses to view and magnify oral conditions. With many intra-oral cameras images may be printed by your Herrin dental professionals.

Laughing Gas - Laughing gas, properly called Nitrous oxide, is an odorless inhaled anesthetic that produces relative analgesic (sedation); reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation. Laughing gas is a general anesthetic used by Herrin gentle dentists to make your experience less traumatic if you experience dental fear and dental phobia.

Mouth Guard - A mouth guard, or night guard, is an acrylic appliance used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding the teeth while sleeping.

Occlusal - The chewing or grinding surface of a tooth.

Onlays - Porcelain or gold restorations covering at least one cusp of the tooth.

Operative Dentistry - Department providing fillings, crowns, and cosmetic dentistry.

Oral Pathology - Study of diseases and pain of mouth and jaw.

Oral Surgery - Department where extractions of teeth are performed as well as general surgical procedures in the jaws, and lower facial area.

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics - Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics is the dental specialty that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures.

Partial - (RPD; Removable partial denture) Removable replacement for missing teeth that rests on the gums with clasps that attach to remaining teeth.

Pediatric Dentistry - Department providing dentistry for children under the age of 16.

Periodontics - Periodontics is that specialty of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetic's of these structures and tissues.

Pit - A pit is a small defect in your tooth's enamel. Pits often appear where the four formative lobes of a developing tooth join.

Plaque - Soft deposits of bacteria and debris that collect on teeth.

Pocket - Abnormally deep space between the gum tissue and the teeth where bacteria can enter, causing gum disease.

Preventive Dentistry - Teeth cleaning and instruction to prevent gum disease.

Prophylaxis - Prophy; a basic teeth cleaning.

Prosthesis - A cemented or removable replacement for missing teeth.

Prosthodontics - Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using bio-compatible substitutes.

Pulpitis - An infection of the nerve inside a tooth.

Pulpotomy - Removal of only the pulp tissue in the crown of the tooth, an endodontic procedure.

Radiographs - X-rays.

Recall - Appointment for a patient who is returning for maintenance or follow up care.

Restoration - Filling used to restore the tooth.

Root Canal Therapy - (RCT, endodontic therapy) Removal of the nerve inside a tooth and subsequent filling of this space.

Scaling and Root Planing - Cleaning teeth to remove calculus and plaque above and below the gum line.

Third Molars (wisdom teeth) - The last teeth to come into the mouth.

Treatment Plan - A list of procedures and related costs recommended to treat patient's dental needs.

Veneer: Veneers are plastic or porcelain bonded directly to the facing of a tooth by your cosmetic dentist to improve your teeth's appearance, and fix your smile. Southern Illinois cosmetic dentists use special composite ultra-thin laminates or porcelain bonded to teeth. Typically, Herrin cosmetic dentists use veneers for repairing worn, cracked, and chipped teeth.

Teeth structure abnormality definitions:

  • Amelogenesis imperfecta - A condition in which enamel does not form properly or at all.
  • Dentinogenesis imperfecta - A condition in which dentin does not form properly and is sometimes associated with osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • Dentin dysplasia - A disorder in which the roots and pulp of teeth may be affected.
  • Regional odontodysplasia - A disorder affecting enamel, dentin, and pulp and causes the teeth to appear "ghostly" on radiographs.

Tooth size abnormality

  • Microdontia - A condition where teeth are smaller than the usual size.
  • Macrodontia - When teeth are larger than the usual size.

Teeth number abnormality:

  • Anodontia - The total lack of tooth development.
  • Hyperdontia - The presence of a higher-than-normal number of teeth.
  • Hypodontia - The lack of some teeth. Usually:
  • Hypodontia - Refers to the lack of development of one or more teeth
  • Oligodontia - May be used to describe the absence of 6 or more teeth.

Teeth shape abnormality

  • Fusion of two deciduous teeth.
  • Gemination - Occurs when a developing tooth incompletely splits into the formation of two teeth.
  • Fusion - The union of two adjacent teeth during development.
  • Concrescence - The fusion of two separate teeth only in their cementum.
  • Accessory cusps - Additional cusps on a tooth and may manifest as a Talon cusp, Cusp of Carabelli, or Dens evaginatus.
  • Dens invaginatus, also called Dens in dente - A deep invagination in a tooth causing the appearance of a tooth within a tooth.
  • Ectopic enamel - Enamel found in an unusual location, such as the root of a tooth.
  • Taurodontism - A condition where the body of the tooth and pulp chamber is enlarged.
  • Hypercementosis - Excessive formation of cementum, which may result from trauma, inflammation, acromegaly, rheumatic fever, and Paget's disease of bone.
  • Dilaceration - A bend in the root which may have been caused by trauma to the tooth during formation.
  • Supernumerary roots - The presence of a greater number of roots on a tooth than expected.

Facts: Structure of a Human Tooth

Tooth Diagram

  • 1. Tooth
  • 2. Enamel
  • 3. Dentin
  • 4. Dental pulp
  • 5. cameral pulp
  • 6. root pulp
  • 7. Cementum
  • 8. Crown
  • 9. Cusp
  • 10. Sulcus
  • 11. Neck
  • 12. Root
  • 13. Furcation
  • 14. Root apex
  • 15. Apical foramen
  • 16. Gingival sulcus
  • 17. Periodontium
  • 18. Gingiva:
  • 19. free or interdental
  • 20. marginal
  • 21. alveolar
  • 22. Periodontal ligament
  • 23. Alveolar bone
  • 24. Vessels and nerves
  • 25. dental
  • 26. periodontal
  • 27. alveolar through channel

Related Information:

  1. Dental: Teeth Facts and Information
  2. Partial Dentures: Information on Types of Partials - - (2012-07-29)
  3. Root Canal Treatment Information and Awareness - American Association of Endodontists - (2011-03-25)

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