It happens in most professions: Specialists usually use technical words patients generally are not familiar with. These situations also occur many times in our life, like when we take our car to the garage. I still have no idea what the deuce the crankshaft is, though I wonderfully pretend controlling the jargon. Something similar happens when the washing machine’s technician comes home…
Well, if you ask your dentist, he will be delighted to explain you every technical word -in Artedental we are for sure-. However, if you want to be one step ahead or in case you need something more to understand this blog, we provide you with this glossary including the most common technical words dentists use. In order to improve it and update it, we will extend it through time. Furthermore, we will be delighted if you leave comments or ask questions on words you think that are missing or need a better explanation.
ABRASION: Loss of tooth structure caused by mechanical forces from a foreign element like toothbrushes, toothpicks, floss and any dental appliance frequently set in and removed from the mouth. It also can be caused by hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique or bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth).
ABSCESS: A local infection resulting in the collection of pus under pressure. A dental abscess may be caused by severe decay, trauma, or gum disease and will be characterised by swelling and pain.
ABUTMENT: A tooth or implant fixture used as a support for a prosthesis.
ACID ETCHING: Use of an acidic chemical substance to prepare the tooth enamel and or dentin surface to provide retention for bonding.
AIR ABRASION: A drill-less technique that is being used by some dentists to remove tooth decay and to perform other procedures.
AIR ROTOR: The modern incarnation of the dental drill is the air turbine (or air rotor) handpiece, driven by compressed air. It is used during dental procedures, usually to remove decay and shape tooth structure
ALLOY: Compound combining two or more elements having properties not existing in any of the single constituent elements. Sometimes used to refer to amalgam.
ALVEOLAR OSTEITIS: Inflammation of the alveolar bone (i.e., the alveolar process of the maxilla or mandible). Classically, this occurs as a postoperative complication of tooth extraction.
ALVEOLAR PROCESS: The part of the bone in either the maxilla or mandible that surrounds and supports the teeth.
ALVEOLOPLASTY: Surgical procedure for recontouring supporting bone, sometimes in preparation for a prosthesis.
ALVEOLUS: The sockets in the jaws in which the roots of teeth are held.
AMALGAM: A common filling material used to repair cavities. The material, also known as “silver fillings,” contains mercury in combination with silver, tin, copper, and sometimes zinc.
ANALGAESIA: A state of pain relief or an agent for lessening pain.
ANESTHESIA: A type of medication that results in partial or complete elimination of pain sensation; numbing a tooth is an example of local anesthesia; general anesthesia produces partial or complete unconsciousness.
APEX: The tip of the root of a tooth.
APICOECTOMY: Amputation of the apex of a tooth.
AVULSION: Separation of tooth from its socket due to trauma. See evulsion.
BENIGN: The mild or non-threatening character of an illness or the non-malignant character of a neoplasm.
BICUSPID: The fourth and fifth teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth; these are the back teeth that are used for chewing and have only two points (cusps). Adults have eight bicuspids (also called premolars), two in front of each group of molars.
BIOPSY: Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.
BITEWING RADIOGRAPH: A form of dental radiograph that reveals approximately the coronal halves of the maxillary and mandibular teeth and portions of the interdental alveolar septa on the same image.
BLEACHING: Process of lightening of the teeth, usually using a chemical oxidizing agent and sometimes in the presence of heat. Removal of deep seated intrinsic or acquired discolorations from crowns of vital and non-vital teeth through the use of chemicals, sometimes in combination with the application of heat and light.
BRIDGE: Stationary dental prosthesis (appliance) fixed to teeth adjacent to a space; replaces one or more missing teeth, cemented or bonded to supporting teeth or implants adjacent to the space. Also called a fixed partial denture.
BRUXISM: grinding or gnashing of the teeth, most commonly during sleep.
CALCULUS: Hard deposit of mineralized substance adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices.
CANAL: A relatively narrow tubular passage or channel.
Root canal: Space inside the root portion of a tooth containing pulp tissue.
Mandibular canal: The passage which transmits vessels and nerves through the jaw to branches that distributes them to the teeth.
CARIES : Commonly used term for tooth decay.
CAVITY: Missing tooth structure. A cavity may be due to decay, erosion or abrasion. If caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.
CEMENT BASE: Material used under a filling to replace lost tooth structure.
CEMENTUM: Hard connective tissue covering the outer surface of a tooth root.
CEPHALOMETRIC IMAGE: A standardized, extraoral projection utilized in the scientific study of the measurements of the head.
COMPOSITE: A dental restorative material made up of disparate or separate parts (e.g. resin and quartz particles).
CONSCIOUS SEDATION: A combination of medicines to help you relax (a sedative) and to block pain (an anesthetic) during a medical or dental procedure. You will probably stay awake but may not be able to speak. Conscious sedation lets you recover quickly and return to your everyday activities soon after your procedure.
CROWN: (1) the portion of a tooth above the gum line that is covered by enamel; (2) dental restoration covering all or most of the natural tooth; the artificial cap can be made of porcelain, composite, or metal and is cemented on top of the damaged tooth.
CURETTAGE: Scraping and cleaning the walls of a real or potential space, such as a gingival pocket or bone, to remove pathologic material.
CUSP: Pointed or rounded eminence on or near the masticating surface of a tooth.
CYST: Pathological cavity, usually lined with epithelium, containing fluid or soft matter.
DEBRIDEMENT: Removal of subgingival and/or supragingival plaque and calculus which obstructs the ability to perform an evaluation.
DECAY: The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.
DECIDUOUS: Having the property of falling off or shedding; a term used to describe the primary teeth.
DENTAL LASER: A type of laser designed specifically for use in oral surgery or dentistry. Several variants of dental lasers are in use with different wavelengths and these mean they are better suited for different applications.
DENTAL SCANNER: 3D scanners are used to capture the 3D shape of a patient in dentistry
DENTIN: Inner layer of tooth structure, immediately under the surface enamel.
DENTURE: An artificial substitute for some or all of the natural teeth and adjacent tissues.
DIASTEMA: A space, such as one between two adjacent teeth in the same dental arch.
DISTAL: Surface or position of a tooth most distant from the median line of the arch.
DRY SOCKET: A common complication that occurs when either a blood clot has failed to form in an extracted tooth socket or else the blood clot that did form has been dislodged.
EARLY CHILDHOOD CARIES (ECC): Also known as baby bottle caries, baby bottle tooth decay and bottle rot is a disease characterized by severe decay in the teeth of infants or young children.
ENAMEL: Hard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of tooth.
ENDODONTICS: Endodontics is the branch of dentistry which is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic and clinical sciences including biology of the normal pulp, the etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.
ENDODONCIST: A dental specialist who limits his/her practice to treating disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.
EROSION: Dental erosion is the thinning or wearing away of the hard coating of a tooth (the enamel) caused by acids.
ERUPTION: The emergence of the tooth from its position in the jaw.
ESCISION: Surgical removal of bone or tissue.
EVULSION: Separation of tooth from its socket due to trauma. See avulsion.
EXODONTIA: The practice of dental extractions.
EXOSTOSIS: Overgrowth of bone. See torus.
EXTRACTION: The process or act of removing a tooth or tooth parts.
EXTRAORAL: Outside the oral cavity.
EXUDATE: A material usually resulting from inflammation or necrosis that contains fluid, cells, and/or other debris.
FACIAL: The surface of a tooth directed toward . the cheeks or lips (i.e., the buccal and labial surfaces) and opposite the lingual surface.
FRENUM: Muscle fibers covered by a mucous membrane that attaches the cheek, lips and or tongue to associated dental mucosa.
FURCATION: The anatomic area of a multirooted tooth where the roots diverge.
GENERAL ANESTHESIA : Controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of pain sensation, protective reflexes, and the ability to respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command.
GINGIVA: Soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.
GINGIVECTOMÍA: The excision or removal of gingiva.
GINGIVITIS: Inflammation of gingival tissue without loss of connective tissue.
GINGIVOPLASTIA: Surgical procedure to reshape gingiva.
GLASS IONOMER: Polyelectrolyte cement that can be used to restore teeth, fill pits and fissures, lute and line cavities. It is also known as glass polyalkenoate cement, ionic polymer cement, polyelectrolyte cement.
GRAFT: A piece of tissue or alloplastic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency.
Allograft: Graft of tissue between genetically dissimilar members of the same species. Donors may be cadavers, living related or living unrelated individuals. Also called allogenic graft or homograft.
Autogenous graft: Taken from one part of a patient’s body and transferred to another.
GRANULOMA: An inflammation found in many diseases. Granulomas form when the immune system attempts to wall off substances it perceives as foreign but is unable to eliminate.
HEMISECTION: Surgical separation of a multi-rooted tooth.
IMPACTED TOOTH: An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.
IMPLANT: A metal rod (usually made of titanium) that is surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone where a tooth is missing; it serves as the tooth root and anchor for the crown, bridge, or denture that is placed over it.
INLAY: An intracoronal dental restoration, made outside the oral cavity to conform to the prepared cavity, which restores some of the occlusal surface of a tooth, but does not restore any cusp tips. It is retained by luting cement.
INTERPROXIMAL: Between the adjoining surfaces of adjacent teeth in the same arch.
INTRAORAL: Inside the mouth.
IRM: Intermediate Restorative Material is a polymer-reinforced zinc oxide-eugenol composition restorative material designed for intermediate restorations intended to remain in place for no longer than one year. It may also be used as a base under restorative materials and cements that do not contain resin components.
JAW: A common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.
LABIAL : Pertaining to or around the lip.
LABIO-PALATAL FISSURE: Fissure or cleft is an opening or separation which can affect the lip (fissured lip or hare lip), the palate (fissured palate or cleft palate) or both (lip and palate fissure), it is a congenital malformation (innate) which occurs during the first 3 months of pregnancy when the face of the fetus is being formed.
LAMINATE VENEER: A thin covering of the facial surface of a tooth usually constructed of tooth colored material used to restore discolored, damaged, misshapen or misaligned teeth.
LAUGHING GAS: Nitrous oxide, an odorless inhalation agent that produces relative analgesic (sedation), reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation.
LESION: An injury or wound; area of diseased tissue.
LINGUAL: Pertaining to or around the tongue; surface of the tooth directed toward the tongue; opposite of facial.
MALAR: Pertaining to the cheek bone; see zygomatic bone.
MALIGNANT: Having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and metastasis.
MALOCCLUSION: Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.
MANDIBLE: The lower jaw.
MARYLAND BRIDGE: Fixed partial denture featuring conservative retainers which are resin bonded to abutments.
MAXILLA: The upper jaw.
MESIAL: Nearer the middle line of the body or the surface of a tooth nearer the center of the dental arch.
STUDY MODEL: Plaster or stone model of teeth and adjoining tissues; also referred to as diagnostic cast. It is also called “diagnostic cast”.
MOLAR: Teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.
MUCOUS MEMBRANE: Lining of the oral cavity as well as other canals and cavities of the body; also called “mucosa”.
OCCLUSAL: Pertaining to the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth or contacting surfaces of opposing teeth or opposing occlusion rims.
OCCLUSAL ADJUSTMENT: Selective grinding of some of the tooth surfaces since his allows the teeth to occlude -contact between the upper and lower teeth- properly, resulting in a more stable and comfortable bite.
OCCLUSION: Any contact between biting or chewing surfaces of maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth.
ONLAY: A dental restoration made outside the oral cavity that covers one or more cusp tips and adjoining occlusal surfaces, but not the entire external surface.
OPERCULUM: The flap of tissue over an unerupted or partially erupted tooth.
ORAL: Pertaining to the mouth.
ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY: The specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.
ORAL PATHOLOGIST: The oral health care provider who studies the causes of diseases that alter or affect the oral structures (teeth, lips, cheeks, jaws) as well as parts of the face and neck.
ORTHODONTIST: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the interception and treatment of malocclusion and other neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the teeth and their surrounding structures.
ORTHOGNATHIC: Functional relationship of maxilla and mandible.
OSTEOPLASTY: Surgical procedure that modifies the configuration of bone.
OSTEOTOMY: Surgical cutting of bone.
OVERDENTURE: A removable prosthetic device that overlies and may be supported by retained tooth roots or implants.
OVER-RETAINED TEETH: A primary tooth still in position with a permanent tooth trying to come into the same space is termed an “over-retained” tooth, and usually requires removal of the primary tooth.
PALATE: The hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities.
PALLIATIVE: Action that relieves pain but is not curative.
PANORAMIC RADIOGRAPH: An extraoral projection whereby the entire mandible, maxilla, teeth and other nearby structures are portrayed on a single image, as if the jaws were flattened out.
PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY: An age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs.
PERICORONAL: Around the crown of a tooth.
PERIPHERAL NERVE BLOCK: Local anesthetic is injected near a nerve that provides sensation to particular portion of the body. There is significant variation in the speed of onset and duration of anesthesia depending on the potency of the drug.
PERIODONTAL: Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.
PERIODONTIST: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.
PERIODONTITIS: Inflammation and loss of the connective tissue of the supporting or surrounding structure of teeth with loss of attachment.
PERIRADICULAR: Surrounding a portion of the root of the tooth.
PLAQUE: A soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives.
PONTIC: The term used for an artificial tooth on a fixed partial denture (bridge).
PREMOLAR: See bicuspid.
PRIMARY DENTITION: The first set of teeth; see deciduous.
PROPHYLAXIS: Removal of plaque, calculus and stains from the tooth structures. It is intended to control local irritational factors.
PROSTHODONTIST: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth with artificial substitutes.
PROSTHESIS: An artificial appliance for the replacement for a body part.
Immediate denture: A complete or partial denture that is made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the natural teeth are removed.
Removable prosthesis: Complete or partial prosthesis, which after an initial fitting by a dentist, can be removed and reinserted by the patient.
PROVISIONAL: Formed or preformed for temporary purposes or used over a limited period; a temporary or interim solution; usually refers to a prosthesis or individual tooth restoration.
PULP: Connective tissue that contains blood vessels and nerve tissue which occupies the pulp cavity of a tooth.
PULPECTOMY: Complete removal of vital and non-vital pulp tissue from the root canal space.
PULPITIS: Inflammation of the dental pulp.
PULPOTOMY: Removal of a portion of the pulp, including the diseased aspect, with the intent of maintaining the vitality of the remaining pulpal tissue by means of a therapeutic dressing.
QUADRANT: One of the four equal sections into which the dental arches can be divided; begins at the midline of the arch and extends distally to the last tooth.
RADICULAR: Pertaining to the root.
REBASE: Process of refitting a denture by replacing the base material.
REIMPLANTATION: The return of a tooth to its alveolus.
RELINE: Process of resurfacing the tissue side of a removable prosthesis with new base material.
Orthodontic retainer: Appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment.
Prosthodontic retainer: A part of a prosthesis that attaches a restoration to the abutment tooth, implant abutment, or implant.
ROOT: 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 PLANING: A definitive treatment procedure designed to remove cementum and/or dentin that is rough, may be permeated by calculus, or contaminated with toxins or microorganisms.
SEALANT: A resinous material designed to be applied to the occlusal surfaces of posterior teeth to prevent occlusal caries.
SIALOGRAPHY: Inspection of the salivary ducts and glands by radiograph after the injection of a radiopaque medium.
SPLINT: 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 (TMJD).
STOMATITIS: Inflammation of the membranes of the mouth.
STUDY MODEL: Plaster or stone model of teeth and adjoining tissues; also referred to as diagnostic cast. It is also called diagnostic cast.
TARTAR: A common term for dental calculus, a hard deposit that adheres to teeth and produces a rough surface that attracts plaque.
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ): The connecting hinge mechanism between the base of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jaw (mandible).
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD or TMJD): Abnormal functioning of temporomandibular joint; also refers to symptoms arising in other areas secondary to the dysfunction.
TISSUE CONDITIONING: Material intended to be placed in contact with tissues, for a limited period, with the aim of assisting the return to a healthy condition.
TOMOGRAPHY: An X-ray technique that produces an image representing a detailed cross section of tissue structures at a predetermined depth.
TOOTHLESS: Having no teeth.
TOOTH WEAR: loss of tooth substance by means other than dental caries or dental trauma.
TORUS: A bony elevation or protuberance of bone. See exostosis.
TRISMUS: Restricted ability to open the mouth, usually due to inflammation or fibrosis of the muscles of mastication.
VENEER: See laminate veneer.
WHITENING: Any process that will make teeth appear whiter. It can be achieved with a bleaching or non-bleaching product. Whitening options range from in-office procedures to whitening toothpastes.
WISDOM TEETH: The last teeth to come in during young adulthood. Also called third molars.
XEROSTOMIA: Decreased salivary secretion that produces a dry and sometimes burning sensation of the oral mucosa and/or cervical caries.
ZYGOMATIC BONE: Quadrangular bone on either side of face that forms the cheek prominence. See malar.