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

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

Alveolar bone: The part of the jaw that surrounds the roots of the teeth.

Alveolar process: The curving part of the jaw into which the teeth are rooted.

Alveolus: An opening in your jawbone in which a tooth is attached

Amalgam: An silver/mercury alloy used in direct dental restorations.

Ankylosis: A condition where two hard tissues are fused together.


  • General Anesthesia: General anesthesia is the induction of a state of unconsciousness with the absence of pain sensation over the entire body, through the administration of anesthetic drugs. It is used during certain medical and surgical procedures.
  • Intravenous Sedation/Analgesia: A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes intravenous administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) and appropriate monitoring.
  • Local Anesthesia: The loss of pain sensation over a specific area of the anatomy without loss of consciousness.
  • Non-Intravenous Conscious Sedation: A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) by a route other than IV.
  • Regional Anesthesia: A term used for local anesthesia. See Local Anesthesia.

Anesthetic: A drug which a doctor or dentist uses to put you, your mouth, or some other part of your body to sleep to prevent pain during dental or medical procedures.

Anterior Teeth: Teeth in the front of your mouth

Apex: The very bottom of the root of your tooth

Apicoectomy: Removal of the tip of a tooth root.

Arch: Collectively, either the teeth or the basal bone of either jaw.

Articulator: A special holder for models of your teeth. The articulator holds the models in the same alignment as your jaw so the doctor can look carefully at your occlusion or bite.


Baby teeth: Refers to the deciduous or primary teeth in the dental arch. Deciduous teeth, otherwise known as milk teeth, baby teeth, temporary teeth, and primary teeth are the first set of teeth in the growth development.

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

Bicuspid: A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.

Bilateral: Occurring on, or pertaining to, both right and left sides.

Biopsy: 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.

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

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

Bridge: See Fixed Partial Denture and/or Removable Partial Denture.

Bruxism: Grinding or clenching of teeth during the day or while asleep.

Buccal: The tooth surface which is next to your cheeks. Usually only posterior teeth touch your cheeks, so people usually use the term "buccal" only when talking about your back teeth.


Calculus: Mineralized material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth. When you do not brush your teeth, the plaque hardens. Calculus is also known as tartar.

Canal: A relatively narrow tubular passage or channel.

Caries: Another name for cavities (tooth decay).

Cariogenic: Promotes tooth decay.

Cavity: A small hole in one of your teeth caused by tooth decay. Also referred to as carious lesion.

Cementum: Hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.

Cleft Lip: Birth defect, in which one or more fissures form in the upper lip.

Cleft Palate: Congenital deformity resulting in lack of fusion of the soft and/or hard palate, either partial or complete.

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

Composite: 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.

Crown: 1) An artificial tooth, 2) an artificial replacement for the covering on a tooth 3) part of the tooth visible in the mouth.

  • Abutment Crown: Artificial crown serving for the retention or support of a dental prosthesis;
  • Anatomical Crown: That portion of tooth normally covered by, and including, enamel;
  • 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 surface for restorative purposes.

Cusp: The pointed portion of the tooth. The chewing or tearing points of the cuspids, bicuspids, and molars.

Cyst: Pathological cavity, usually lined with epithelium, containing fluid or soft matter.


Debridement: Removing foreign matter or dead tissue.

Decalcification: The loss of calcium from your teeth. This weakens your teeth and makes them more susceptible to decay.

Decay: The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth (cavity); decomposition of tooth structure.

Deciduous: Refers to the deciduous or primary teeth in the dental arch. Deciduous teeth, otherwise known as milk teeth, baby teeth, temporary teeth, and primary teeth are the first set of teeth in the growth development.

Dental Implants: Dental Implants refer to an artificial tooth root replacement and are used in prosthetic dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth.

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. (DDS and DMD)

Dentin: The part of a tooth below the enamel and cementum containing the pulp chamber and root canals.

Dentition: The teeth in the dental arch.

Permanent Dentition: Refers to the permanent teeth in the dental arch.

Denture: A synthetic replacement for all of your teeth in either your upper or your lower jaw.

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

Diagnosis: The process of identifying the nature of a disorder.

Disinfectant: A chemical agent that is applied onto inanimate surfaces, for example chairs, to destroy germs.

Distal: Towards the back of the mouth.

Dry Socket: Localized inflammation of the tooth socket following extraction due to loss of blood clot.


Edentulous: Toothless. Someone is said to be edentulous when all of their teeth are missing from either their upper or lower jaw.

Enamel: Hard calcified tissue-covering dentin of the crown of tooth.

Endodontist (Endo): A dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tips or nerves in your teeth and associated periradicular conditions.

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

Erupt, Eruption: When a new tooth comes in, the tooth is said to erupt when the tooth breaks through the surface of your gums, so you can see the tooth in your mouth.


  • 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.
  • Limited Oral Evaluation: Problem focused: an evaluation limited to a specific oral health problem. This may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. 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 infection, 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. 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.
  • Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation: Typically includes evaluation of periodontal conditions, probing and charting, evaluation and recording of the patient's dental and medical history and general health assessment. It may include the evaluation and recording of dental caries, missing or unerupted teeth, restorations, occlusal relationships and oral cancer screening.
  • 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, severe systemic diseases requiring multi-disciplinary consultation, etc.
  • Re-Evaluation—Limited, Problem Focused (established patient; not post-operative visit): This includes assessing the status of a previously existing condition. Examples of conditions requiring this type of evaluation may include: A traumatic injury where no treatment was rendered but the patient needs follow-up monitoring; Evaluation for undiagnosed continuing pain: A soft tissue lesion requiring follow-up evaluation.

Excision: Surgical removal of bone or tissue.

Exfoliate: To fall out. (Your deciduous teeth exfoliate and permanent teeth erupt into the space.)

Extraction: An extraction is the process or act of removing a tooth or tooth parts. A dental extraction is performed for a wide variety of reasons, including tooth decay that has destroyed enough tooth structure to prevent restoration. Extractions of impacted or problematic wisdom teeth are also routinely performed, as are extractions of some permanent teeth to make space for orthodontic treatment.

Extraoral: Outside of your mouth.


FADI: Fellow, Academy of Dentistry International

FAGD: Fellow, Academy of General Dentistry

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

Filtrum or Philtrum: The dimple or indentation under the nose directly above the upper lip.

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.

Fluoride: A chemical solution or gel that you put on your teeth. The fluoride hardens your teeth and prevents tooth decay.

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

Frenectomy: A Frenectomy is also known as a frenulectomy or frenotomy. A frenectomy is the removal of a frenulum, a small fold of tissue that limits movement of an organ. It can refer to frenulums in several places on the human body. It is related to frenuloplasty, a surgical alteration in a frenulum.

Frenum: Small pieces of skin that attach your lips, cheeks and tongue to your mouth. Examples include the piece of skin under your tongue that sticks out when you pick up your tongue, and the piece of skin which sticks out when you pull out your lips.

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


Gingiva: Soft tissues overlying the alveolus and encircling the necks of teeth that have erupted.

Gingival Hyperplasia: An overgrowth of gingival tissues.

Gingival hypertrophy: The abnormal enlargement of the gingiva surrounding the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene.

Gingivectomy: The excision or removal of gingiva.

Gingivitis: The inflammation of your gums caused by improper brushing. The first sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

Gingivoplasty: Surgical procedure to reshape gingiva.

Graft: A piece of tissue or alloplastic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency.


Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter.


Imaging, Diagnostic: This would include, but is not limited to, CAT scans, MRIs, photographs, radiographs, etc.

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

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

Implant: 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).

Implantation, Tooth: Placement of an artificial or natural tooth into an alveolus.

Incisor: Another name for the central and lateral teeth

Intraoral: Inside your mouth.

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

Irrigation: The technique of using a solution to wash out your mouth and to flush debris.


Jaw: A common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.


Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter. You can use the search function at the top of this page to find information that may exist in other locations.


Labial: The tooth surface next to your lips or appliances mounted on the tooth surfaces next to your lips.

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.


MAGD: Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry

Malignant: Having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and metastasis.

Malocclusion: Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.

Mandible: Your lower jaw

Mandibular: Pertaining to your lower jaw.

Maryland Bridge: A type of fixed partial denture not requiring crowns. The prosthesis is bonded to the natural teeth to secure it.

Masticate: To chew your food and mix the food with saliva

Maxilla: The upper jaw.

Maxillary: Pertaining to your upper jaw

Mesial: Forward or front. For example your cuspid is mesial to your bicuspid.

Midline: A line/plane through the very center of your mouth perpendicular to your nose. The transition point between left and right.

Mixed dentition: Presence of both deciduous and permanent teeth.

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

Mouthguard: Device that fits over the teeth to assist in prevention of injury to the teeth, mouth or lips. May also refer to a device that prevents tooth grinding.

Mucous Membrane: Lining of the oral cavity as well as other canals and cavities of the body; also called "mucosa."


Numerical notation for teeth (universal): The universal numerical notation is an alternative numerical notation for teeth. In this notation, your upper right third molar is designated as tooth#1, and then you number each tooth sequentially moving right to left and down across your mouth.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A disorder in which breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep.

Occlusal: Pertaining to the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth.

Occlusal plane: The imaginary surface on which upper and lower teeth meet.

Occlusion: Contact between biting or chewing surfaces of maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth.

Oral: 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 aesthetic aspects of the oral and maxillofacial regions.

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a graduate of an accredited dental school who has completed an additional four or more years of training in an accredited, hospital-based oral and maxillofacial residency program.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: The specialty of dentistry that includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and aesthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Through appropriate referrals, patients can be provided with health care for conditions relating to the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery.

Orthodontic Retainer: Appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment.

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

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

Osseointegration: The process by which bone heals around an implant.

Osteoblasts: Cells that aid the growth and development of teeth and bones.

Osteoclasts: Cells which assist in the resorption of bone.

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 dental implants.


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.

Palmer's Notation: Palmer's notation is a method used to designate individual teeth. In Palmer's notation, your mouth is divided into four parts called quadrants, that is the upper left quadrant, the upper right quadrant, the lower left quadrant, and the lower right quadrant. Then each individual tooth in the quadrant is given a name. For example the two upper and two lower teeth at the center of your mouth are called central's. One then combines the names of the quadrant and the tooth to come up with a Palmer's notation. For example, the central on the upper right side of your mouth is called an upper right central. The remaining teeth are designated as follows:

  • Canine: Another name for the cuspids.
  • Central: The two upper and two lower teeth in the very center of your mouth.
  • Lateral: The teeth just adjacent to the centrals.
  • Cuspid: The pointy teeth just behind the laterals. These teeth have one cuspal (or point). Cuspids are also called canines.
  • First Bicuspid: The teeth just behind the cuspids. These teeth typically have two cusps (or points)
  • Second Bicuspid: The teeth just behind the first bicuspids.
  • First Molar: The teeth just behind the second bicuspids. These teeth have a level surface with multiple cusps.
  • Second Molar: The teeth just behind the first molars. These teeth also have a level surface with multiple cusps.
  • Third Molars: Also known as "wisdom teeth." Third molars are the teeth just behind the second molars. Third molars have a level surface with multiple cusps.

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

Partial Denture: Usually refers to a prosthetic device that replaces missing teeth.

Pathogens: Disease-producing organisms.

Pathology: The study of abnormal or diseased tissue conditions.

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

Pellicle: 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).

Periodontal: 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.

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.

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

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

Posterior: Refers to teeth (bicuspids and molars) and tissues towards the back of the mouth (distal to the canines): maxillary and mandibular premolars and molars.

Premedication: The use of medications prior to dental procedures.

Primary teeth: The first set of teeth which come in. Primary teeth are also called "baby teeth" or deciduous teeth.

Prophylaxis: Cleaning your teeth. Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stains.

Prosthesis: Artificial replacement of any part of the body.

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.

Proximal: Refers to the surfaces of teeth that touch the next tooth; the space between adjacent teeth is the interproximal space.

Pulp: 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.

Pulp Chamber: The very inner part of your tooth containing nerve cells and blood vessels.

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

Pulpotomy: Removal of a portion of the pulp.


Quadrants: The four parts of your mouth, that is the upper left, the upper right, the lower left, and the lower right.


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

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

Rebase: To replace the denture base.

Reline: To resurface the side of the denture that is in contact with the soft tissues of the mouth.

Removable Appliance: Removable orthodontic appliances used for simple tooth movement.

Removable Partial Denture: Prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth that can be removed by the patient.

Resorb: Literally, to absorb again. To lose substance. Some of a tooth may be resorbed.

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

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.


Sagittal plane: The longitudinal vertical plane that divides a structure into two halves (left and right.)

Scaling: Removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth.

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

Secondary Teeth: Your permanent teeth, i.e. the second group of teeth to come in.

Space maintainer: An appliance used to maintain a space in your mouth. Your dentist might use a space maintainer when you lose one of your baby teeth prematurely. The space maintainer will keep a space in your mouth until a permanent tooth comes in to fill the space.

Splint: A device used to support, protect, or immobilize oral structures that have been loosened, replanted, fractured or traumatized.

Sterilization: A process where a medical material is treated to remove all possible germs and other forms of life.

Stomatitis: Inflammation of the membranes in the mouth.

Sublingual Glands: Major salivary glands located in the floor of the mouth.

Submandibular Glands: Major salivary glands located under the angle of the jaw that drains saliva beneath the tongue.

Supernumerary teeth: More than the usual number of teeth.

Suture: Stitch used to repair an incision or wound.


Tartar: Another name for calculus

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

TMJ: An abbreviation for the "temporomandibular joint." The "temporomandibular joint" is the joint where your lower jaw connects to your skull.

Torus: A bony elevation or protuberance of bone.


Unerupted: Tooth/teeth that have not penetrated into the oral cavity


Veneer: 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 facial surface of a tooth.


Wisdom Teeth: Wisdom teeth are also known as the third molars. Most people have four wisdom teeth, but it is possible to have more or fewer. Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth.


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

X-Ray: Radiograph.


Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter. You can use the search function at the top of this page to find information that may exist in other locations.


Currently there are no terms listed alphabetically under this letter. You can use the search function at the top of this page to find information that may exist in other locations.

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