Glossary

Online Dental Education Library

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
The information listed below was provided by the American Dental Association and can be found on their website dedicated to oral health. See https://www.mouthhealthy.org for more information.

Implants

Dental implants are a popular and effective way to replace missing teeth and are designed to blend in with your other teeth. They are an excellent long-term option for restoring your smile. In fact, the development and use of implants is one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years. Dental implants are made up of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. They are posts that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw, where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth.

Veneers

Veneers are thin, custom-made shells crafted of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth. They are an option for correcting stained, chipped, decayed or crooked teeth. Veneers are made by a dental technician, usually in a dental lab, working from a model provided by your dentist. Placing veneers is usually an irreversible process, because it's necessary to remove a small amount of enamel from your tooth to accommodate the shell. Your dentist may recommend that you avoid some foods and beverages that may stain or discolor your veneers such as coffee, tea or red wine. Sometimes a veneer might chip or fracture. But for many people the results are more than worth it.

Crowns

A crown can help strengthen a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining to hold the filling. Crowns can also be used to attach bridges, protect a weak tooth from breaking or restore one that’s already broken. A crown is a good way to cover teeth that are discolored or badly shaped. It’s also used to cover a dental implant.

Diastema

A diastema is an area of extra space between two or more teeth. The two front teeth of the upper jaw area is where diastema is most frequently seen. Many children experience diastema as primary teeth fall out, though in most cases these spaces close when the permanent teeth erupt.

Diastemas may also be caused by a tooth size discrepancy, missing teeth or an oversized labial frenum, the tissue that extends from the inside of the lip to the gum tissue where the upper two front teeth are located. Secondary reasons involve oral alignment issues such as an overjet or protrusion of the teeth.

Whitening

Teeth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These bleaches break stains into smaller pieces, which makes the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter.

Does Whitening Work on All Teeth?

No, which is why it’s important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on veneers, crowns or fillings. It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.

 

Fracture

 

 

 

 

Oral Systemic Health

 

 

 

 

Root Canal

If you have a severely damaged, decaying tooth or a serious tooth infection (abscess), your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment. Root canals are used to repair and save your tooth instead of removing it.

 

 

 

 

 

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 made 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.
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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 -A premolar tooth; tooth with two cusps, which are pointed or rounded eminences on or near the masticating surface of a tooth.
Bitewings - X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities.
Bonding - Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth.
Bridge - A prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or otherwise attached to the abutment teeth or implant replacements.
Bruxism - Teeth grinding.
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C
Calculus - A hard deposit of mineralized substance adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices.
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 - A commonly used term for tooth decay, or 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 tooth replacement that restores missing tooth structure by surrounding the remaining coronal tooth structure. It is also placed on a dental implant.
Cusps - The pointed parts on top of the back teeth's chewing surface.
Cuspids - Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge.
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D
Dentin - The tooth layer underneath the enamel.
Denture - A removable set of teeth.
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E
Endodontics - A form of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth's root or nerve.
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F
Fluoride - A harmless over-exposure to fluoride resulting in tooth discoloration.
Fluorosis - A harmless over-exposure to fluoride and resulting sometimes in tooth discoloration.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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M
Malocclusion - Bad bite relationship.
Mandible - The lower jaw.
Maxilla - The upper jaw.
Molar - Usually the largest teeth, near the rear of the mouth. Molars have large chewing surfaces.
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N
Neuromuscular Dentistry - Addresses more than the aches and pains felt in and around the neck and head that are associated with your teeth and jaw.

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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.
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P
Palate - Roof of the mouth.
Partial denture - A removable appliance that replaces missing teeth.
Pediatric Dentistry - 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 tissue.
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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 planing - Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line.
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S
Sealant - A synthetic material placed on the tooth's surface that protects the enamel and chewing surfaces.
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T
TMJ - Temporomandibular joint disorder. Health problems related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear.
Tarter - A hardened substance (also called calculus) that sticks to the tooth’s surface.
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V
Veneer - A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.
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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.
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