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Dental Glossary

A

Abrasion: wearing away of teeth due to abrasives, usually resulting from hard brushing.
Abscess: the formation of a sac of bacteria in the presence of an infection. Symptoms are swelling pain, throbbing, and a sensation of heat.
Anaesthesia: drug to block off any pain impulses from the nerves.
Analgesic: pain killer medication.
Antibiotics: medication to fight off bacteria causing infection.
Asepsis: sterilization of the surroundings and instruments to prevent infections.
Attrition: wearing away of teeth due to grinding.

B

Bleaching: oxygenating and conditioning the teeth with and peroxide based gel, resulting in whiter teeth.
Bridge: when missing teeth, a dentist can use two or more teeth present to “bridge” the space.

C

Calcification: hardening (usually of the pulp) due to calcium and phosphorous salts.
Calculus: hardened plaque (cannot be brushed away with a toothbrush).
Cavities: caries , caused when acids decalcify the tooth enamel and disintegrates the dentin. Caused by acids produced by microbial-enzymatic action on ingested carbohydrates.
Cementum: the dull yellow surface of a root.
Contact point: area where two adjacent teeth touch each other.
Crossbite: when the lower back teeth overlap the upper back teeth when closing the mouth
Crowding: lack of space in the jaw, resulting in teeth that are overlapping.
Cusp: a point or peak on the top surface of a tooth.

D

Deciduous dentition: (Baby Teeth) the primary dentition, also known as the milk teeth (20).
Dentin: the hard tissue of a tooth under the enamel and cementum.
Denture: a removable appliance made to replace some or all of the teeth; Full denture: when the patient has no teeth (edentulous). Immediate: getting a denture at the time the patient gets teeth extracted. Partial: when the patient has a few teeth (partially edentulous).
Diastema: the space present when the central incisors are separated.

E

Edgewise: orthodontic appliance
Enamel: the hard shiny surface of a tooth.
Erosion: the dissolution of teeth due to acidic environment created by acidic juices, coke, etc.
Excision: cutting and harvesting the tissue usually for study of possible pathology (disease).
Extraction: removal of a tooth.

F

Fistula: tract made by infection exiting often through the gingiva and resembling a pimple.
Fusion: tooth appears double but a separation is present due to two teeth fusing together.

G

Gemination: tooth appears double due to splitting of a single tooth.
Gingiva: the soft tissue that surrounds a tooth (the gum).
Gingivitis: inflammation of the gingiva (bleeding gums, may be red, swollen).
Graft: a piece of tissue taken from one area and placed at another.
Groove: a sharply defined linear depression on the chewing surface of the tooth (also referred to as pits and fissures).

I

Immediate denture: getting a denture at the time the patient gets teeth extracted.
Impacted Tooth: a tooth that is blocked fully or partially from exiting the gum line by an adjacent tooth. Full bony extraction: the tooth is fully submerged in the bone; bone removal is necessary. Fully soft tissue extraction: the tooth is submerged in the tissue; cutting is necessary. Partly bony extraction: some bone must be taken out to be able to reach the tooth to be extracted. Partly soft tissue extraction: partial cutting of the tissue is needed to reach the tooth to be extracted.
Implant: A substitute for a lost tooth. It functions as additional support, most often providing the best option for esthetics, non removable rather than removable tooth replacement. Implants are fabricated from body compatible bio-materials, most often titanium or one of its alloys. It usually requires two stages; implant placement and then its restoration 6 months later.
Incision and drainage: cutting of tissue in order to allow the infection to flow out and reduce pain and the swelling.
Incision: cutting of soft tissue.
Inlay: restoration used when less than 3/4 of a tooth is present and the cusps are not missing.
Intravenous sedation: putting someone to sleep with an IV.

L

Laminate Veneer: fingernail like restoration made of porcelain or composite.

M

Mandible: the lower jaw.
Maxilla: the upper jaw.

N

Nightguard: occlusal guard.

O

Occlusal guard: appliance used to prevent grinding (nightguard).
Onlay: restoration used when 3/4 of a tooth and part of the cusps are missing.
Open bite: usually due to thumb sucking, the front teeth do not touch when closing the mouth.
Overbite: when the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth when closing your mouth
Overdenture: denture made over existing teeth or root tips that have had root canal. These roots are left there in order to reduce bone loss, and increase denture retention and stability.
Overjet: the distance between the upper and lower front teeth, when the upper are bucked out and the lower are more retracted inside towards the tongue.

P

Palate, Hard: the front part of the roof of the mouth.
Palate, Soft: the back part of the roof of the mouth.
Parasthesia: lack of sensation at the sensory level.
Papillae: gums between the teeth.
Partial denture: when the patient has a few teeth (partially edentulous).
Pericornitis: gingival tissue area of an empty tooth that is inflamed. Most often the Wisdom Tooth.
Periodontitis: inflammation of the bone (bone loss).
Pin and tube: orthodontic appliance
Plaque: film of materials made up of saliva, bacteria, dead cells, food particles and bacterial residues.
Post and core: used in order to build up tooth to be able to place a crown on it.
Pulp: the centre of a tooth, made up of blood vessels and nerve tissue.

R

Recontouring: reshaping the teeth.
Retainer: appliance to hold the teeth in a certain position.
Ribbon arch: orthodontic appliance
Root canal therapy: removal of the root’s nerve tissue and pulp, usually due to infection from bacteria in cavities or from trauma, and filling the canal space with gutta percha.
Root planing: scraping root below the gums, in order to clean it, remove plaque and calculus, and allow for better attachment to the gums.

S

Scaling: scraping of the teeth above the gums, in order to clean them.
Sinus: air spaces above the upper teeth (maxillary sinus).
Space maintainer: appliance used to move teeth into a certain area or to keep them in place.
Splint: appliance used to stabilize loose teeth.
Succedaneous dentition: the permanent dentition (32 teeth).
Suture: stitches.

T

TEETH
•Canines: the cornerstone of the mouth, the fangs or the cuspids (upper and lower).
•Incisors, Lateral: the next teeth on either side of the central incisors (upper and lower).
•Incisors, Central: the two front teeth, the cutting teeth (upper and lower).
•Molars: the back teeth, the chewing teeth (upper and lower), the strongest teeth.
•Premolars: the middle teeth or the bicuspid (upper and lower).
•TMJ (TMD): temporomandibular joint (disorder), the place near the ear where the lower jaw “joins” the skull. A defect of the disc or other parts are involved. Clicking is most common.

U

Uvula: a small fleshy structure hanging from the centre of the soft palate.

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