This is a glossary of dental terms to explain some of those confusing words you may hear at the dental office. Remember that your dentist can offer the best explanations of dental terms for you, and can also help you understand more complex dental procedures.
acute or chronic, localized inflammation, with a collection of pus, associated with tissue destruction and, frequently, swelling.
Periapical abscess – acute or chronic inflammation and pus formation at the end of a tooth root in the alveolar bone, secondary to infection.
Periradicular abscess – acute or chronic inflammation around a tooth root in the alveolar bone, secondary to infection.
Periodontal abscess – abscess of the gingiva or periodontal tissue secondary to periodontal infection, as contrasted to periapical abscess or periradicular abscess.
a tooth or implant used to support a prosthesis.
use of an acidic chemical substance to prepare the tooth enamel surface to provide retention for bonding.
any substance that joins or creates close adherence of two or more surfaces.
refers to synthetic material often used for tissue augmentation.
referring to the bone to which a tooth is attached.
surgical procedure for recontouring alveolar structures, usually in preparation for a prosthesis.
an alloy used in direct dental restorations.
loss of pain sensations without loss of consciousness.
partial or total absence of sensation to stimuli.
General anesthesia – a controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of protective reflexes, including loss of ability to independently maintain airway and respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command, produced by a pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic method or combination thereof.
Intravenous conscious sedation – a depressed level of consciousness that retains the patient’s ability to independently and continuously maintain an airway and to respond appropriately to physical stimulation or verbal command, produced by a pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic method or combination thereof.
Local anesthesia – elimination of sensations, especially pain, in one part of the body by the topical application or regional injection of an anesthetic drug.
Regional block anesthesia – loss of sensation caused by injecting a local anesthetic agent close to a nerve trunk.
refers to the teeth and tissues located towards the front of the mouth – maxillary and mandibular incisors and canines.
the tip or end of the root end of the tooth.
amputation of the apex of a tooth.
the curved composite structure of the natural dentition and the residual ridge, or the remains thereof after the loss of some or all of the natural teeth.
separation of tooth from its socket due to trauma (evulsion).
the mild character of an illness or the non-malignant character of a neoplasm.
a premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.
occurring on, or pertaining to, both sides.
process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.
interproximal view radiograph of the coronal portion of the tooth.
process by which two or more components are made integral by mechanical and/or chemical adhesion at their interface.
a fixed partial denture which is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or attached to the abutment teeth or implant abutments adjacent to the space; removable partial denture (removable bridge) is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth on a framework that can be removed by the patient.
the parafunctional grinding of the teeth.
pertaining to or around the cheek.
a narrative description used to report a service that does not have a procedure code or is specified in a code as ‘by report’; may be requested by a third-party payer to provide additional information for claims processing.
hard deposit of mineralized plaque which is attached to crowns and/or roots of teeth.
a relatively narrow tubular passage or channel; space inside the root portion of a tooth containing pulp tissue; the passage which transmits vessels and nerves through the jaw to branches that distributes them to the teeth.
part of a fixed prosthesis that is supported at one end only.
commonly used term for tooth decay.
see diagnostic cast or study model.
decay in tooth caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.
material used under a filling to replace lost tooth structure.
hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.
a radiographic head film utilized in the scientific study of the measurements of the head with relation to specific reference points.
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.
the repositioning of a fractured bone without open surgery.
a dental restorative material made up of disparate or separate parts (e.g. resin and quartz particles).
break in bone which is exposed to external contamination.
COMPREHENSIVE ORAL EVALUATION
a thin covering of the coronal portion of the tooth usually without anatomic conformity. It can be used as a definitive restoration or as part of a transfer procedure.
refers to the crown of a tooth.
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.
a surgical procedure exposing more tooth for restorative purposes by apically positioning the gingival margin and/or removing supporting bone.
scraping or cleaning the walls of a cavity or gingival pocket.
pointed or rounded eminence on or near the masticating surface of a tooth.
pathological cavity, usually lined with epithelium, containing fluid or soft matter.
Odontogenic cyst – cyst derived from the epithelium of odontogenic tissue (developmental, primordial).
Periapical cyst – cyst at the apex of a tooth with a non-vital pulp.
removal of subgingival and/or supragingival plaque and calculus which obstructs the ability to perform an evaluation; removal of contused and devitalized tissue; from a wound surface.
the lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.
to fall off or shed; a name used for the primary teeth.
scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus, and stains.
that part of the tooth that is beneath enamel and cementum.
the teeth in the dental arch.
Permanent dentition – refers to the permanent teeth in the dental arch.
Deciduous dentition – refers to the deciduous or primary teeth in the dental arch.
an artificial substitute for natural teeth and adjacent tissues.
that part of a denture that makes contact with soft tissue and retains the artificial teeth.
DETAILED AND EXTENSIVE
plaster or stone model of teeth and adjoining tissues; also referred to as study model.
a space, such as one between two adjacent teeth in the same dental arch.
DIRECT PULP CAP
procedure in which the exposed pulp is covered with a dressing or cement with the aim of maintaining pulp vitality.
excision of the intra-articular disc of a joint.
a partial evulsion of a tooth-may be mesial, distal, facial, lingual or incisal.
toward the back of the dental arch (or away from the midline).
localized inflammation of the tooth socket following extraction due to infection or loss of blood clot; osteitis.
hard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of tooth.
a dental specialist who limits his/her practice to treating disease and injuries of the pulp and associated perpendicular conditions.
reshaping of the occlusal surfaces of teeth to create harmonious contact relationships between the upper and lower teeth; also known as occlusal adjustment.
Periodic oral evaluation – 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.
Limited oral evaluation – problem focused – an evaluation or re-evaluation limited to a specific oral health problem. This may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. Report additional diagnostic procedures separately. Definitive procedures may be required on the same date as the evaluation. Typically, patients receiving this type of evaluation have been referred for a specific problem and/or present with dental emergencies, trauma, acute infections, etc.
Comprehensive oral evaluation – Typically used by a general dentist and/or a specialist when evaluating a patient comprehensively. It is a thorough evaluation and recording of the extraoral and intraoral hard and soft tissues. It may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. Additional diagnostic procedures should be reported separately. This would include the evaluation and recording of the patient’s dental and medical history and a general health assessment. It may typically include the evaluation and recording of dental caries, missing or unerupted teeth, restorations, occlusal relationships, periodontal conditions (including periodontal charting), hard and soft tissue anomalies, etc.
Detailed and extensive oral evaluation – problem – focused, by report – a detailed and extensive problem-focused evaluation entails extensive diagnostic and cognitive modalities based on the findings of a comprehensive oral evaluation. Integration of more extensive diagnostic modalities to develop a treatment plan for a specific problem is required. The condition requiring this type of evaluation should be described and documented. Examples of conditions requiring this type of evaluation may include dentofacial anomalies, complicated perio-prosthetic conditions, complex temporomandibular dysfunction, facial pain of unknown origin, severe systemic diseases requiring multi-disciplinary consultation, etc.
complete separation of the tooth from its socket due to trauma (avulsion).
surgical removal of bone or tissue.
overgrowth of bone (see torus).
outside the crown of a tooth.
outside the oral cavity.
a material usually resulting from inflammation or necrosis that contains fluid, cells, and/or other debris.
the surface of a tooth directed toward the face (including the buccal and labial surfaces) and opposite the lingual surface.
a lay term used for the restoring of lost tooth structure by using materials such as metal, alloy, plastic, or cement.
natural opening into or through bone.
the breaking of a part, especially of a bony structure; breaking of a tooth.
muscle fibers covered by a mucous membrane that attaches the cheek, lips and or tongue to associated dental mucosa.
the anatomic area of a multirooted tooth where the roots diverge.
soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted, serving as the supporting structure for sub-adjacent tissues.
the excision or removal of gingiva.
inflammation of gingival tissue without loss of connective tissue.
surgical procedure to reshape gingiva to create a normal, functional form.
glass polyalkenoate cement: material in which the solid powdered phase is a fluoride-containing aluminosilicate glass powder. The material is translucent and can be used as a restoration, a liner and a luting agent.
a piece of tissue or alloplastic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency;
Allogenic graft – having cell types that are antigenetically distinct from patient’s cell type (usually freeze dried and/or irradiated);
Autogenous graft – taken from one part of a patient’s body and transferred to another;
Homologous graft – a graft transplanted from a donor of the same species.
surgical separation of a multirooted tooth so that one root and/or the overlaying portion of the crown can be surgically removed.
made up of tissue not normal to the part.
the study of composition and function of tissues under pathological conditions.
this would include, but is not limited to, CAT scans, MRIs, photographs, radiographs, etc.
prosthesis constructed for placement immediately after removal of remaining natural teeth.
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 – 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).
placement of an artificial or natural tooth into an alveolus.
one of the angles formed by the junction of the incisal and the mesial or distal surfaces of an anterior tooth; called the mesial and distal incisal angle respectfully.
INDIRECT PULP CAP
procedure in which the nearly exposed pulp is covered with a protective dressing to protect the pulp from additional injury and to promote healing and repair via formation of secondary dentin.
an 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.
the intentional removal, radicular repair and replacement of a tooth into its alvelous.
between the adjoining surfaces of adjacent teeth.
referring to ‘within’ the crown of a tooth.
inside the mouth.
INTRAVENOUS CONSCIOUS SEDATION
a common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.
a protein present in all cuticular structures of the body, such as hair, epidermis, horns, and the organic matrix of the enamel of the teeth.
the oral surface of the gingiva extending from the mucogingival junction to the gingival margin. In gingival health, the coronal portion of the sulcular epithelium may also be keratinized.
pertaining to or around the lip.
an injury or wound; area of diseased tissue.
LIMITED ORAL EVALUATION
an angle formed by the junction of two planes; used to designate the junction of two surfaces of a tooth, or of two walls of a tooth cavity preparation.
pertaining to or around the tongue.
therapy for preserving the state of health of the periodontium.
pertaining to the cheek bone; see zygomatic bone.
having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and metastasis.
improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.
trade name that has become synonymous with any resin bonded fixed partial denture (bridge).
the upper jaw.
toward the midline of the dental arch.
METALS, CLASSIFICATION OF
the noble metal classification system has been adopted as a more precise method of reporting various alloys used in dentistry. The alloys are defined on the basis of the percentage of noble metal content: high noble – Gold (Au), Palladium (Pd), and/or Platinum (Pt) > 60% (with at least 40% Au); noble – Gold (Au), Palladium (Pd), and/or Platinum (Pt) > 25%; and predominantly base – Gold (Au), Palladium (Pd), and/or Platinum (Pt) < 25%.
teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.
a cast mold reproduction of the face which may be wax or plaster.
lining of the oral cavity as well as other canals and cavities of the body; also called ‘mucosa.’
a graft from donor other than patient.
a disc or plate which closes an opening; a prosthesis that closes an opening in the palate.
an intraoral radiograph made with the film being held between the occluded teeth.
any contact between biting or chewing surfaces of maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth.
a restoration made outside the oral cavity that replaces a cusp or cusps of the tooth, which is then luted to the tooth; metallic onlays have intracoronal designs while resin onlays may not have intracoronal designs.
providing access to a fracture for purposes of anatomic approximation by cutting tissue or surrounding bone.
removal of the operculum.
the flap of tissue over an unerupted or partially erupted tooth.
pertaining to the mouth.
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.
the specialty of dentistry and pathology concerned with recognition, diagnosis, investigation and management of diseases of the oral cavity, jaws, and adjacent structures.
a dental specialist whose practice is limited to the interception and treatment of malocclusion of the teeth and their surrounding structures.
functional relationship of maxilla and mandible.
surgical procedure that modifies the configuration of bone.
surgical cutting of bone.
prosthetic device that is supported by retained teeth roots or implants.
the hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities.
action that relieves pain but is not curative.
an extraoral radiograph on which the maxilla and mandible are depicted on a single film.
usually refers to the prosthetic device that replaces the missing teeth on a framework that can be removed by the patient (see fixed partial denture or removable partial denture).
an individual who has established a professional relationship with a dentist for the delivery of dental health care. For matters relating to communication of information and consent this term includes the patient’s parent, caretaker, guardian, or other individual as appropriate under state law and the circumstances of the case.
a dental specialist whose practice is limited to treatment of children from birth through adolescence; formerly known as a pedodontist.
see pediatric dentist.
the area surrounding the end of the tooth root.
a radiograph made by the intraoral placement of film for disclosing the apices of the teeth.
around the crown of a tooth.
PERIODIC ORAL EVALUATION
pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.
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.
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.
surrounding a portion of the root of the tooth.
a soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives.
the term used for the artificial tooth on a fixed partial denture (bridge).
an elongated metallic projection fitted and cemented within the prepared root canal, serving to strengthen and retain restorative material and/or a crown restoration.
refers to teeth and tissues towards the back of the mouth (distal to the canines) – maxillary and mandibular premolars and molars.
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.
the first set of teeth; see deciduous.
scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stains.
artificial replacement of any part of the body;
Dental prosthesis – any device or appliance replacing one or more missing teeth and/or, if required, associated structures. This is a broad term which includes abutment crowns and abutment inlays/ onlays, bridges, dentures, obturators, gingival prostheses.
Definitive prosthesis – a prosthesis to be used over an extended period of time.
Fixed prosthesis – non-removable tooth-borne dental prosthesis which is solidly attached to abutment teeth or roots or implants.
Interim prosthesis – a provisional prosthesis designed for use over a limited period of time, after which it is to be replaced by a more definitive restoration.
Removable prosthesis – dental prosthesis designed to be removed and reinserted by the patient.
a dental specialist whose practice is limited to the restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth with artificial substitutes.
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.
the blood vessels and nerve tissue that occupies the pulp cavity of a tooth.
the space within a tooth which contains the pulp.
complete removal of pulp tissue from the root canal space.
inflammation of the dental pulp.
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.
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.
pertaining to the root.
process of refitting a denture by replacing the base material.
REGIONAL BLOCK ANESTHESIA
the return of a tooth to its alveolus.
process of resurfacing the tissue side of a denture with new base material.
Orthodontic retainer – appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment.
Prosthodontic retainer – a part of a fixed partial denture that attaches a pontic to the abutment tooth.
a method of sealing the root canal by preparing and filling it from the root apex.
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.
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.
a procedure designed to remove microbial flora, bacterial toxins, calculus, and diseased cementum or dentin on the root surfaces and in the pocket.
removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth.
one of the six relatively equal sections into which a dental arch can be divided, for example: tooth numbers 1-5; 6-11; 12-16; 17-21; 22-27; 28-32. Sometimes used for recording periodontal charting.
surgical procedure for the repair of a defect and/or restoration of a portion of a salivary gland duct.
inspection of the salivary ducts and glands by radiograph after the injection of a radiopaque medium.
surgical procedure by which a stone within a salivary gland or its duct is removed, either intraorally or extraorally.
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 of the mouth.
that part of a tooth-borne and/or tissue-borne prosthesis designed to relieve the abutment teeth and their supporting tissues from harmful stresses.
plaster or stone model of teeth and adjoining tissues; also referred to as diagnostic cast.
stitch used to repair incision or wound.
TEMPORARY REMOVABLE PARTIAL DENTURE
an interim prosthesis designed for use over limited period of time.
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ)
the connecting hinge mechanism between the mandible (lower jaw) and base of the skull (temporal bone).
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DISFUNCTION
abnormal functioning of temporomandibular joint; also refers to symptoms arising in other areas secondary to the disfunction.
material intended to be placed in contact with tissues, for a limited period, with the aim of assisting their return to healthy condition.
a bony elevation or protuberance of bone; see exostosis.
a passage or change from a position, state, phase or concept to another.
transfer of a tooth from one socket to another, either in the same or a different person.
through or across a septum.
restricted ability to open the mouth, usually due to inflammation or fibrosis of the muscles of mastication.
tooth/teeth that have not penetrated into the oral cavity.
one-sided; pertaining to or affecting but one side.
in the construction of crowns or pontics, a layer of tooth-colored 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 tooth.
any of a series of surgical procedures designed to increase relative alveolar ridge height.
a wax form that is the positive likeness of an object to be fabricated.
decreased salivary secretion that produces a dry and sometimes burning sensation of the oral mucosa and/or cervical caries.
a general term for a fungus occurring as a unicellular, nucleated organism that usually reproduces by budding, although some yeasts may reproduce by fission, many producing mycelia or pseudomycelia.
quadrangular bone on either side of face that forms the cheek prominence (see malar).