Dental Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A

Amalgam
Material from mercury and other alloy mixtures used to restore a drilled portion of a tooth.

Anesthesia
Medications used to relieve pain.

Anterior teeth
Front teeth. Also called incisors and cuspids.

Arch
The upper or lower jaw.


B

Baby bottle tooth decay
Caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby’s mouth.

Bicuspids
Back teeth used for chewing.

Bitewings
X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities.

Bonding
Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth.

Bridge
A fixed or removable appliance that replaces lost teeth.

Bruxism
Teeth grinding.


C

Calculus
A sticky substance (also called tartar) that has hardened.

Canal
The narrow chamber inside the tooth’s root.

Canines
Also called cuspids.

Canker sore
One that occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. A canker sore is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border.

Caries
Another term for decay, which causes cavities.

Cold sore
Usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by the Herpes Simplex virus, and it is usually painful and filled with fluid.

Composite filling
Tooth colored restorations, also known as resin fillings.

Composite resin
A tooth-colored resin combined with silica or porcelain and used as a restoration material.

Contouring
The process of reshaping teeth.

Crown
An artificial cover that is placed on the top of a tooth following restoration.

Cusps
The pointed parts on top of the back teeth’s chewing surface.

Cuspids
Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge.


D

Dentin
The tooth layer underneath the enamel.

Denture
A removable set of teeth.


E

Endodontics
A form of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth’s root or nerve.


F

Fluoride
A naturally occurring substance added to water, toothpastes and some rinses and used for strengthening the tooth’s enamel.

Fluorosis
A harmless over-exposure to fluoride and resulting sometimes in tooth discoloration.


G

Gingiva
Another word for gum tissue.

Gingivitis
A minor disease of the gums caused by plaque.

Gum disease
An infection of the gum tissues. Also called periodontal disease.


I

Impacted teeth
A condition in which a tooth fails to erupt or only partially erupts.

Implant
A permanent appliance used to replace a missing tooth.

Incisor
Front teeth with cutting edges; located in the center or on the sides near the front.

Inlay
An artificial filling made of various materials, including porcelain, resin, or gold.


L

Laminate veneer
A shell that is bonded to the enamel of a front tooth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin.


M

Malocclusion
Bad bite relationship.

Mandible
The lower jaw.

Maxilla
Usually the largest teeth, near the rear of the mouth. Molars have large chewing surface.


N

Neuromuscular Dentistry
Are more than the aches and pains felt in around the neck and head that are associated with your teeth and jaw.


O

Onlay
A filling designed to protect the chewing surface of a tooth.

Orthodontics
A field of dentistry that deals with tooth and jaw alignment.

Overdenture
A non-fixed dental appliance applied to a small number of natural teeth or implants.


P

Palate
Roof of the mouth.

Partial denture
A removable appliance that replaces teeth. Also called a bridge.

Pedodontics
A field of dentistry that deals with children’s teeth.

Perio pocket
An opening formed by receding gums.

Periodontal disease
Infection of the gum tissues.  Also called gum disease.

Periodontist
A dentist who treats diseases of the gums.

Permanent teeth
The teeth that erupt after primary teeth.  Also called adult teeth.

Plaque
A sticky, colorless substance that covers the teeth after sleep or periods between brushing.

Posterior teeth
The bicuspids and molars.  Also called the back teeth.

Primary teeth
A person’s first set of teeth. Also called baby teeth or temporary teeth.

Prophylaxis
The act of cleaning the teeth.

Prosthodontics
The field of dentistry that deals with artificial dental appliances.

Pulp
The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood, nerves and connective tissues. 


R

Receding gum
A condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth’s enamel and surrounding bone.

Resin filling
An artificial filling used to restore teeth. Also called a composite filling.

Root canal
A procedure in which a tooth’s nerve is removed and an inner canal cleansed and later filled.

Root planning
Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line.


S

Sealant
A synthetic material placed on the tooth’s surface that protects the enamel and chewing surfaces.


T

TMJ / TMD
Temporomandibular joint disorder.  Health problems related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear.

Tartar
A hardened substance (also called calculus) that sticks to the tooth’s surface. 


V

Veneer
A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.


W

Whitening
A process that employs special bleaching agents for restoring the color of teeth.

Wisdom tooth
Third set of molars that erupt last in adolescence.


For Existing Sunshine Dental Patients - In the Event of a Dental Emergency Call: (315) 681-0100*

*We will try our best to return all calls, but we are not “on-call”. This number is intended to be a resource, and not a substitute for emergency care. If it is a true emergency, please contact your nearest emergency room.

315-779-8080 Fax: 315-779-8085 • 140 Eastern Blvd., Watertown, NY 13601 •

email: sunshinedental@nnymail.com

ACCESSIBILITY