Dental Dictionary

Click on the alphabet below to navigate through our definition of terms. You can also scroll through the entire list below.

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

ABSCESS - a local infection. A Severe decay, periodontal disease, or trauma are causative factors. It is characterized by swelling and pain. If an abscess ruptures, it will be accompanied by sudden relief from pain due to a reduction in ssure. A foul taste may also be noticed.

ABUTMENT - a term used to denote the teeth on either side of a missing tooth.

ACRYLIC RESIN - the plastic widely used in dentistry to make dentures.

ACTIVE ERUPTION - the emergence of the tooth from its position in the jaw.

ADHESION - the sticking together of unlike substances

ADJUSTMENT - a modification made upon a dental prosthesis after it has been completed and inserted into the mouth.

AEROBIC BACTERIA - bacteria which grow in oxygen rich environments; in the oral cavity the bacteria are found outside the sulcus.

AFFERENT - nerves that carry sensory messages toward the brain.

AGAR - a gelatin like substance obtained from seaweed; used in impression materials.

ALGINATE - an impression material used by dentists for making stone models.

ALVEOLECTOMY - an operation where portions of the alveolar bone are removed.

ALVEOLAR BONE - the bone surrounding the root of the tooth; loss of this bone is typically associated with severe periodontal disease.

ALVEOLAR CREST - the highest portion of alveolar bone.

ALVEOLAR EMINENCE - outline of the root on the facet portion of the bone.

ALVEOLAR PROCESS - the portion of the mandible or maxilla that surrounds the root of a tooth.

ALVEOLUS - the bony socket in which the root of the tooth sits.

AMALGAM - or silver filling; an alloy in which one of the metals is mercury. Below are the approximate percentages of the component elements:

Mercury Hg 50%

Silver Ag 35%

Tin Sn 13%

Copper Cu 0-3%

Zinc Zn 0-1%

ANAEROBIC BACTERIA - bacteria that do not need oxygen to grow; they are generally associated with periodontal disease.

ANODONTIA - the developmental absence of teeth.

ANTIBIOTIC - substance produced by or derived from bacteria which is able to inhibit or kill other bacteria.

ANTIMICROBIAL - destroying or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

ANATOMICAL CROWN - the portion of the tooth that is covered with enamel.

ANTISCEPTIC - A chemical agent which can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.

ANESTHESIA - medication which relieves the sensation of pain.

ANNIVERSARY YEAR - begins on the day of the month that the patients' insurance became effective.

ANOMALY - a deviation from the normal or expected outcome.

ANTAGONIST - a structure that opposes or counteracts another structure.

ANTERIOR - situated in front of.

ANTERIOR TEETH - the front teeth (incisors and cupids).

ANUG - Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis. An acute, painful condition characterized by severe gingival redness, spontaneous bleeding, foul breath and pain.

APEX - the pointed extremity of a structure.

APICAL FORAMEN - the opening at the end of the root of a tooth through which the tooth receives its nerve and blood supply.

APPOSITION - the laying down of, or addition of.

ARCH - a curvature; both the maxillary and mandibular ridge form a horseshoe shaped arch.

ARTICULATING PAPER - carbon paper; placed between the upper and lower teeth to mark contact.

ARTICULATOR - a mechanical device used to replicate functional movements of the jaw to casts.

ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS - a clause in an insurance policy that allows the insured person to direct the carrier's payment to the dentist.

ASPIRATOR - The tube-like straw which the dentist place in your mouth for suction.

ASYMMETRY/ SYMMETRY - To be esthetic, tooth Size, shape and gum contour should be as close to identical from one side of the mouth to the other. Ideally, the incisal edges of your teeth should follow the contour of the upper lip.

ATTACHMENT LEVEL - a numerical measure of the amount of attachment of the periodontal ligament to a tooth; the number is generally determined by combining a pocket depth measurement with a measurement of gingival recession. Attachment level is considered one of the most important measures of periodontal disease progress or treatment success

ATTRITION - the wearing away of tooth structure through normal use (ie. chewing, biting, etc.).

AXON - the process that carries impulses away from the cell body of a nerve.

Top of Page



BENEFIT YEAR - generally begins on the month of the year that the employer purchased the plan.

BICUSPIDS - or having two cusps. The first and second bicuspids; they are the fourth and fifth teeth from the center of the mouth, respectively. These are the back teeth that are used for chewing.

BIFURCATION - having two branches, or dividing into two parts.

BILATERAL - both sides.

BIRTHDAY RULE - applies when a child is covered under both parent's plans; the plan of the parent who's birthday (month and day, not year) falls earlier in the calendar year is billed first (in cases of divorce or separation, other factors pertain).

BITEWING - a single X-ray that shows the upper and lower teeth's biting surfaces on the same film.

BLEACHING - cosmetic whitening of teeth using peroxide.

BOLUS - chewed up mass of food and saliva.

BONDING - the covering of a tooth surface to correct stained or damaged teeth.

BRIDGE - a fixed appliance (prosthesis) that replaces missing teeth. A bridge is a series of attached crowns (abutments and pontics).

BRUXISM - or the grinding of teeth, usually occurs during sleep.

BUCCAL - or pertaining to the cheek.

BUCCINATOR MUSCLE - the cheek muscle.

Top of Page

CALENDAR YEAR - January 1st to December 31st.

CALCIFICATION - the process of hardening through the deposition of lime salts.

CALCULUS - hard calcium like deposits which form on teeth and dentures.

CANAL - the narrow chamber inside the root of a tooth that contains nerve tissue and blood vessels.

CANINES - See CUSPIDS; so named because the correspond to the long teeth of a dog.

CAPITATION PLAN - a plan whereby the dentist is contracted with the administrator to provide dental services to persons covered under the program in return for payment on a per-capita basis.

CARIOGENIC - or cancer-causing

CARIES - medical term for decay; caused by decalcification of the enamel and disintegration of the dentin by acid producing bacteria.

CARIOGENIC - or decay-causing

CARRIER - the party (usually an insurance company) that pays claims and collects premiums.

CARRYOVER - If the deductible was paid last year, the next year (or quarter, Jan., Feb. and March) they do not have to pay the deductible again.

CAST - reproduction of the mouth in stone or plaster.


CEMENT - a dental material used to seal inlays, onlays, and crowns; also used for pupal protection.

CEMENTUM - makes up the dull yellow outer surface of the roots.

CENTRIC OCCLUSION - the relationship of the occlusal surfaces of one arch to those in the opposing arch at physical rest position.

CENTRIC RELATION - the relationship of the maxillary arch to the mandibular arch when the condyle is in its most retracted position.

CERVICAL - pertaining to the neck of a tooth.

CERVIX - the neck of the tooth; the area where the crown joins the root or the enamel joins the cementum.

CHEEK POUCH - the area of the mouth inside the cheek.

CHEMOTHERAPEUTIC - an agent of a chemical nature which exerts an antimicrobial effect.

CINGULUM - a raised area on the lingual surface of anterior teeth.

CLASP - the metal part of a partial denture and which helps to retain, support, and stabilize the appliance.


CLEFT PALATE - an opening in the palate.

CLINICAL CROWN - that portion of the tooth visible in the mouth, extending from the occlusal or incisal edge to the crest of the free gingiva.

CLOSED PANEL - a plan where the covered patient only receives benefits if the services are provided by a dentist contracted with the plan's administrator.

COL - a "V-shaped depression in the facial-lingual interdental papilla located cervically to the contact area of the tooth.

COMMUNITION - crushing or grinding to a powder.


COMPOSITE FILLING - tooth-colored restorative material. The word "composite" refers to the mixture of filler particles in a liquid resin. Commonly, the resin used is BIS-GMA (bis-gammamethylmetacrylate). Filler particles are added to alter the color and wear characteristics. Common filler particles are silica, aluminum, zinc, tin, copper and iron.

CONCAVE - curving inward away from the viewer.

CONTACT AREA - that portion of the proximal surface of a tooth that touches the adjacent tooth.

CONVEX - curving outward toward the viewer.

COSMETIC DENTISTRY - aesthetic improvement of the color and shape of teeth performed by a general dentist.

CREST - a prominence or ridge.

CROSS CONTAMINATION - Passing disease indirectly from one patient to another through the use of improper sterilization procedures.

CROWN - full coverage for a tooth (used when the tooth cannot be restored by a filling).

CURETTAGE - the surgical scraping of bacteria from soft tissue. This is a periodontal procedure and is usually performed one quadrant at a time.

CUSPID - the third tooth from the center of the mouth towards the back, also known as canines.

CUSPS - elevated points on the chewing surfaces of back teeth (posterior teeth).

CUSTOM TRAY - an individual tray; custom made to fit a patient's mouth.

Top of Page

DEBRIDEMENT - treatment of a bacterial infection by removing irritants (bacteria, calculus) from the periodontal pocket so as to allow healing of adjacent tissues.

DECALCIFICATION - The loss of calcium from your teeth, weakening the teeth and making them more susceptible to decay

DECIDUOUS TEETH - baby teeth; teeth that exfoliate or shed. see PRIMARY TEETH.

DEDUCTIBLE - the amount paid by the patient before the carrier begins benefit payments.

DEGLUTITION - swallowing.

DEMINERALIZATION - loss of mineral from tooth enamel just below the surface in a carious lesion; usually appearing as a white area on the tooth surface.

DENDRITE - the process that conducts impulses toward the cell body of a nerve.

DENTAL MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATION (D.M.O.) - a legal entity that accepts the responsibility of providing services at a fixed price.

DENTAL RESIN - a dental material applied to the tooth which is used in cases of severe dentinal hypersensitivity; usually not used unless all other treatment attempts have failed.

DENTAL VARNISH - a hypersensitivity treatment which sometimes contains sodium fluoride; applied to the tooth surface, covering the outer surface of dentin and thus blocking transmission of stimuli to the pulp.

DENTIN - the hard, yellowish tissue underlying the enamel and cementum; it makes up the major bulk of the tooth.

DENTINAL TUBULES - microscopic canals that run from the outside of the dentin to the nerve inside the tooth.

DENTITION - the natural teeth as a unit.

DENTURE - a removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces missing teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

DESENSITIZATION - the blocking of painful stimuli which cause dentinal hypersensitivity.

DESICCATE - to make dry; to remove all moisture.

DESQUAMATION - a peeling of gingival tissue; in cases of desquamative gingivitis, the tissues may appear smooth and shiny, with patches of bright red and gray. Surface tissue may peel away, exposing a raw, bleeding, painful surface.

DEVELOPMENTAL DEPRESSION - a concavity in a surface that formed while the tooth was developing.

DIAGNOSIS - the process of identifying the nature of a disorder.

DIAGNOSTIC - procedures performed by the dentist to identify what's going on in the mouth.

DIASTEMA - a space between the teeth.

DILACERATION - an abnormal tooth that where both the crown and the root are twisted.

DIPHYODONT - having two successive sets of teeth.

DIRECT CONTAMINATION - Direct contact with impurities or germs.

DISINFECTION - A cleaning process which destroys the majority of microorganism, but not highly resistant forms such as bacterial and mycotic spores.

DISINFECTANT - A chemical agent which is applied onto inanimate surfaces to destroy germs.

DISPOSABLE MATERIALS - materials intended for one-use and discarded. (e.g.: Gloves, paper gowns, cotton rolls, etc.)

DISTAL - the surface of the tooth farthest from the midline of the dental arch.

DIVERGENT - spread.

Top of Page


EDEMA - swelling resulting from fluid accumulation in gingival tissues.

EDENTULOUS - having no teeth.

EFFERENT - the nerves that carry motor messages away from the brain.

EMBRASURE - the space between two teeth created by the sloping away of the mesial and distal surfaces.

EMINENCE - a prominence.

EMPRESS - Type of porcelain crown and porcelain veneer/laminate. The advantage Empress is that it blends very nicely with the surrounding teeth; it is very esthetic.

ENAMEL - the hard, white shiny surface of the crown; composed of 95% calcium hydroxyapatite.

ENDODONTICS (ENDO) - the treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tip or nerve of the tooth.

EROSION - The dissolution of tooth structure due to the presence of gastric juices or citrus. Erosion seldom occurs alone; it is often accompanied by attrition or abrasion (or both) to varying degrees. Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and juices should be avoid in patients with signs of erosion.

ERUPTION - the moving of the tooth occlusally.

EXCLUSION - services not covered by a dental plan.

EXFOLIATE - to shed.

EXPLORER - a probe used to detect cavity growth.

EXTERNAL - on the outer surface.

EXTRACTION - the removal of teeth.

EXTRAORAL - Outside the mouth.

Top of Page


FACIAL - the surface next to the face; the outer surface of a tooth resting against the cheeks or lips.

FEE SCHEDULE - a set amount paid by the insurance company regardless of the doctor's fee.

FILTRUM - the dimple or indentation under the nose directly above the upper lip.

FISSURE - cleft-like grooves in the chewing surface of the back teeth.

FISTULA - an abnormal passage formed in the gum tissue through which an abscessed tooth drains.

FLUORIDE - topical application of a gel or liquid that prevents decay.

FLUOROSIS - discoloration of the enamel due to excessive fluoride absorption (greater than one 1 part per million) into the bloodstream, also called enamel mottling.

FORAMEN - an opening in bone.

FORNEX - vault or arch shaped.

FOSSA - a shallow depression on the lingual (tongue) surfaces of some front teeth.

FREE GINGIVA - the marginal part of the gingival (gums) that can be deflected from the tooth surface; it forms a collar around the tooth.

FRENUM - a fold of mucous membrane that connects two parts.


FULL MOUTH X-RAYS - X-rays showing all the teeth. Includes 14 periapicals and 4 bitewings, also known as a complete series.

FURCATION - an area where the root divides.

FURROW - a groove.

Top of Page


GALVANIC CURRENT - a current of electricity produced by chemical action between two metals suspended in liquid.

GENDER RULE - when a child is covered under both parent's plans, the father's plan is billed first (in cases of divorce or separation other factors must be considered).

GENERAL ANESTHESIA - relieves the sensation of pain.

GENERAL DENTIST - primary care provider for patients in all age groups.

GERIATRIC DENTIST - general dentist who primarily treats senior citizens.

GINGIVA - the soft tissue surrounding teeth, also known as the gums.

GINGIVAL CREST - the prominent edge of occlusal or incisal gingiva.

GINGIVAL HYPERTROPHY - The abnormal enlargement of the gingiva surrounding the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene or the use of certain medications.

GINGIVECTOMY - the removal of soft tissue surrounding the tooth; typically used in the treatment of periodontal disease.

GINGIVITIS - inflamed and swollen gum tissue most commonly caused by plaque. If left untreated, may lead to periodontitis.

GOLDON PROPORTION - The guidelines which dentists use in determining the most esthetic appearance of a particular tooth (teeth need to maintain a certain height to width ratio to look their best.)

GROOVE - a long, narrow depression.

GUTTA PERCHA - material used in the filling of root canals.

Top of Page

HANDPIECE - the instrument used to hold and revolve burs in dental operations.

HEAT-STERILIZING - Use of an autoclave or dry-heat sterilizer to kill all potential disease-causing agents that remain following patient treatment. Any instruments that is not heat stable and cannot tolerate high temperatures should be thoroughly cleaned and soaked in disinfectant chemicals.

HETERODONT - different types of teeth within the same dentition (ie. incisors, canines, molars).

HISTO-DIFFERENTIATION - development into a specialized tissue.

HISTOLOGY - the study of tissues.

HOMODONT - the presence of only one type of tooth in the dentition.

HYPERPLASIA - over-growth of a part; an increase in the number of cells.

HYPERSENSITIVITY - a sharp, sudden painful reaction in teeth when exposed to hot, cold, chemical, mechanical or osmotic (sweet or salt) stimuli.

Top of Page

IDEAL OCCLUSION - a complete harmonious relationship of the teeth and masticatory system.

IMMEDIATE DENTURE - a complete or partial denture made before the natural teeth are extracted.

IMPACTION - an unerupted or partially erupted tooth that will not fully erupt into the mouth because of an obstruction.

IMPLANT - a post that is implanted into bone. A crown, bridge, or denture is then placed over the implant to restore function and esthetics.

IMPRESSION TRAY - formed in the general shape of the mouth, used for taking impressions.

INCENTIVE PROGRAM - a dental plan where the percentage of benefits increase each year as the patient receives regular, annual dental care (preventive treatment). If the patient fails to go to the dentist each year, the percentage drops back to where it started.

INCISORS - the central and lateral incisors; the first and second teeth from the midline of the mouth.

INLAY - a gold, porcelain, or composite custom-made filling cemented into the tooth. If it covers the tips of the teeth, it is called an onlay.

INCISAL EDGE - the cutting edge, ridge, or surface of anterior teeth.

INSERTION - the movable end of a muscle.

INTERCUSPATION - interlocking; a cusp-to-fossa relationship of the maxillary to mandibular teeth.

INTERPROXIMAL - the space between two adjacent surfaces.

IINTRAORAL - Inside your mouth.

INVAGINATION - to enclose within.

INVISALIGN - The system is a way to move teeth without the use of conventional brackets and archwires. Basically, a series of clear plastic trays are computer fabricated with each tray gradually shifting the teeth into proper alignment. The system works best for minor tooth movements.

IONTOPHOR - the process of introducing a drug through the dental enamel by use of an electrical current; often used in the treatment of dentin hypersensitivity.

IRRIGATION - the technique of using a solution to wash out your mouth.

Top of Page


JAW - a common name for the maxilla or mandible.

Top of Page


No terms Available

Top of Page


LABIAL - relating to the lip; another name for the facial surface of anterior teeth (next to the lip).

LAMINATE VENEER - a porcelain, or composite covering which is bonded to restore discolored, or damaged teeth.

LATERA L - to the side.

LEAST COST ALTERNATIVE - an insurance policy clause that allows the insuring company to pay for the least expensive treatment.

LESION - any wound or local degeneration.

LINGUAL - the surface of a tooth nearest the tongue; relating to the tongue.

LOBE - center of tooth formation.

LOCAL ANESTHESIA - relieves the sensation of pain in a localized area.

Top of Page


MALOCCLUSION - any deviation from the ideal positioning of the teeth or jaws.

MAMELON - small elevations of enamel present on the incisors as they erupt.

MANAGED CARE PLANS - plans that restrict the type, level, and frequency of treatment; these plans limit access to care and control the level of service reimbursement (ie. DMO's, Capitation plans, and Closed Panel plans).

MANDIBLE - the lower jaw.

MARYLAND BRIDGE - A type of Bonded Bridge. Its main difference from conventional bridges is in the reduced amount of abutment preparation necessary. Only the lingual surfaces of the abutments are reduced.

MASTICATION - chewing.

MASTICATORY SYSTEM - the teeth and surrounding structures: jaws, temporomandibular joint, muscles, lips, and tongue.

MAXILLAE - the upper jaw.

MEDIAL - relating to the middle or medial plane.

MENTAL - relating to the chin.

MERCURY - a metal, component of amalgam fillings.

MESIAL - is the surface of the tooth nearest the midline of the dental arch.

MICRO ABRASION - a drill-free technique using an instrument resembling a tiny sand blaster that delivers tiny aluminum oxide particles to the surface of teeth.

MIDLINE - imaginary line through the middle of an object which divides it into two equal parts.

MIXED DENTITION- The developmental stage when both deciduous and permanent teeth are present.

MOLAR - the first, second and third molars; these are the sixth, seventh and eighth teeth from the center of the mouth, respectively.

MOUTHGUARD - a soft-fitted device which protects teeth against impact or injury.

MUCOSA - the thin, outer pink or red membrane lining the inside of the oral cavity.

Top of Page


NASAL - relating to the nose.

NEURON - a nerve cell.

NEOPLASM - a proliferation of cells interfering with surrounding tissues; refers to cancer.

NICOTINE PATCHES - typically worn for 24 hours over several weeks, supplying a steady flow of nicotine. The main brands include: Habitrol, Nicoderm, Nicotrol and Prostep. Over the course of treatment the amount of nicotine in the patch gradually decreases. Studies have shown that this method has approximately a 25 % success rate.

NIGHTGUARD - a removable acrylic appliance to minimize the effects of grinding (bruxism) and TMJ associated problems.

Top of Page


OBLIQUE RIDGE - a linear elevation that transverses a surface.

OCCLUDE - to bring together.

OCCLUSAL - relating to the biting surface of teeth.

OCCLUSAL EQUILIBRATION - process of refining and perfecting the occlusion.


OCCLUSAL PLANE - The imaginary surface on which upper and lower teeth meet.

OCCLUSAL TRAUMA - results from excessive force placed on a normal dentition, i.e. grinding and clenching of teeth. If left uncontrolled, occlusal trauma may result in rapid attachment loss and bone destruction.

OCCLUSION - the relationship of the teeth in a closed position in both the maxillary and mandibular arch.

ONLAY - A laboratory processed restoration made of metal, porcelain or acrylic that replaces one or more of cusps of a tooth.

OPAQUING - covering the metal work of a prosthesis with a material so that it doesn't show through.

OPEN BITE - increased distance between the two arches; space between the front upper and lower teeth when the back teeth are touching.

ORAL CAVITY - the mouth.

ORAL SURGERY (O.S.) - surgery of the mouth.

ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGEON - treats and surgically corrects diseases, injuries and defects of the mouth and jaws.

ORAL PATHOLOGIST - examines oral tissues for evidence of suspected abnormalities such as cancer.

ORIGIN - the fixed end of a muscle.

ORTHODONTICS - a branch of dentistry dealing with irregularities of the teeth and their correction.

ORTHODONTIST - designs and applies corrective and supportive appliances, braces, to realign crooked teeth.

OSTEOBLASTS - Cells which aid in the growth and development of teeth and bones.

OSTEOCLASTS - Cells which help remodel bone.

Top of Page



PALATE - roof of the mouth.

PALATAL SURFACE - the surface of the maxillary teeth nearest the palate.

PALMER'S NOTATION- An identification system for teeth; widely used to designate individual teeth amongst orthodontists.

PANOREX - a single, large x-ray taken outside of the mouth that shows all the teeth on one film.

PARTIAL DENTURE - a removable appliance that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

PASSIVE ERUPTION - describes the process by which teeth continue to erupt into the mouth as tooth structure is lost to attrition and wear.

PATHOGENS - Disease producing organism

PATHOLOGY - The study of abnormal (diseased) tissue conditions.

PEDODONTICS (PEDO) - the treatment of children's teeth.

PELLICLE - the first step in plaque formation; a clear, thin covering containing proteins and lipids (fats) found in saliva. It is formed within seconds after a tooth surface is cleaned.

PERIAPICAL - an x-ray that shows the whole tooth, also known as a single film or P.A.

PERIAPICAL ABSCESS - infection of the pulp of the tooth and tissues surrounding the base of the tooth.

PERICORONITIS - infection of the tissue overlying a partially erupted tooth. Treatment involves keeping this tissue clean and free of bacteria.

PERIODONTAL CHARTING - measures the pocket depth resulting from attachment loss between the gums and teeth.

PERIODONTAL LIGAMENT - the fibers which suspend the tooth in the bony socket; it is attached at one end to the cementum, and at the other end to the alveolar bone of the socket.

PERIODONTAL MAINTENANCE - cleaning of the teeth following periodontal treatment, includes perio charting.

PERIODONTAL POCKET - the pocket that forms when the gums lose attachment from the teeth.

PERIODONTAL PROBE - a dental instrument used to measure pocket depth.

PERIODONTAL PROPHY - see Periodontal Maintenance.

PERIODONTAL RECALL - see Periodontal Maintenance.

PERIODONTICS (PERIO) - the treatment of diseases of the gum.

PERIODONTIST - diagnoses and treats diseases of the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth, especially periodontal, gum, disease

PERIODONTITIS - a form of periodontal disease affecting adults resulting in destruction of alveolar bone.

PERIODONTIUM - the structures that surround and support the teeth.


PERMANENT TEETH - the teeth that replace the deciduous or primary teeth.

PHONETICS - production of sounds.

PIT - a pinpoint depression in the occlusal surface od a tooth.

PLAQUE - a sticky film that accumulated on teeth.

PLASTER OF PARIS - gypsum, used to make models of teeth.

POLISHING - a dental procedure that removes stain, plaque and acquired pellicle by using an abrasive polishing paste in a rubber cup attached to a slow-speed handpiece.

POLYPHYODONT - possessing several sets of teeth during a lifespan.

PONTIC - the component of a bridge that replaces the missing teeth.

PORCELAIN - a tooth-colored sand like material; much like enamel in appearance.

PORCELAIN VENEER - ultra-thin shells of ceramic material bonded to the front of the tooth.

POSTERIOR TEETH - the back teeth (Bicuspids and molars).

POSTPALATAL SEAL - an elevation of material on the back (tissue side) of a denture; for the purpose of sealing the denture.


PREDETERMINATION - the doctor notifies the insurance company beforehand of the intended treatment and the insurance company estimates the benefits that will be paid.??

PREFERRED PROVIDER ORGANIZATION (PPO) - A plan where the patient can go to any dentist they choose, or they can choose a preferred dentist and receive discounted fees. These plans are listed on our system as Preferred and Non Preferred.

PREMOLARS - two-cusped teeth immediately in front of molars.

PREVENTIVE - a procedure performed to aid in preventing decay and/ or gum disease.

PRIMARY PLAN - when a patient is covered by two insurance plans, the plan that is billed first is the primary plan.

PRIMARY TEETH - the baby teeth, also known as the primary dentition.

PRIMATE SPACING - the normal spacing between primary anterior teeth.

PROCERA - Procera is a type of Porcelain Crown. They are one of the strongest all-porcelain crowns available. Procera's framework is computer generated; porcelain is then added to the structure.


PROPHYLAXIS - a general meaning to clean the teeth, also known as a prophy.

PROSTHETICS - a fixed or removable appliance used to replace missing teeth (ie. bridges, partials, and dentures).

PROSTHODONTIST - constructs artificial appliances designed to restore and maintain oral function by replacing missing teeth and other oral structures such as dentures

PROXIMAL - nearest the point of attachment; the mesial or distal surface of the tooth.

PROXIMAL SURFACE - the surface of the tooth adjacent to the next tooth; refers to the mesial and distal surfaces.

PUBLIC HEALTH DENTIST - concerned with the dental health needs of entire communities, and can design and administer large-scale prevention and dental care programs by compiling and analyzing statistics

PULP CANAL - the portion of the pulp in the root.

PULP CHAMBER - the portion of the pulp in the crown of the tooth.

PULP HORN - the portion of the pulp chamber that extends towards the cusp.

PULP TISSUE - the soft (not calcified) tissue in the pulp chamber; composed of blood vessels and nerves.

Top of Page


QUADRANT - denotes one of four equal sections in the mouth. The upper right, upper left, lower right or the lower left.

Top of Page


RADIOGRAPHIC - referring to x-rays.

RADIOSURGERY - surgical technique that uses radio waves to produce a pressureless, bloodless incision.

RAPHE - a union of soft tissue.


REBASE - process where only the tissue surface of a denture is replaced by new material.

RELATIVE VALUE SCHEDULE (RVS) - procedures are given a point value based upon their degree of difficulty. Each procedure is also assigned a given a dollar amount. The dollar amount is then multiplied by the point value to determine what the insurance company will pay.


RESORB - to dissolve into the tissue.

RESTORATIONS - any replacement for lost tooth structure or teeth (ie. bridges, fillings, crowns and implants).

RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY - process of restoring missing, damaged or diseased teeth to normal form and function.

RETAINER - a removable appliance used to maintain teeth in a given position (usually worn at night).

RIDGE - a linear elevation.

ROOT CANAL THERAPY (RCT) - procedure used to save an abscessed tooth in which the pulp chamber is cleaned out, disinfected, and filled with a permanent filling.

ROOT PLANING - the removal of hard deposits from the root surface below the gumline.

ROOT TRUNK - that portion of the root that is not bifurcated or trifurcated.

RUGAE - elevated folds or wrinkles of soft tissue in the front part of the palate.


Top of Page

SAGITTAL PLANE - An imaginary longitudinal vertical plane that divides the mouth into two halves (left and right.)

SCALING - scraping of the tooth above the gums.

SEALANTS - the application of a clear resin over the biting surfaces of teeth to prevent decay.

SECONDARY PLAN - when a patient is insured by two plans, the plan that is billed second is the secondary plan.

SIGNATURE ON FILE - the insured person signs a form stating that the payments made by the carrier go to the dentist. This form expires 1 year from the date it is signed.


SLOUGHING - a condition in which the gingival tissue deadens and peels away from the living tissue.

SOCKET - a cavity in the bone, see ALVEOLUS.

SOFT PALATE - the back 1/3 of the roof of the mouth composed of soft tissue.

SOMATIC - nerves that supply muscles.

SONICARE - electric toothbrush. Vibrates at over 31,000 brush strokes per minute. Most models offer a 3 - minute timer to let you know when you're done.

SPACE MAINTAINERr - A dental appliance used to maintain space in the mouth.


STAIN, EXTRINSIC - stain located on the outside of the tooth surface originating from external substances such as tobacco, coffee, tea or food; usually removed by polishing the teeth with an abrasive prophylaxis paste.

STAIN, INTRINSIC - stain originating from the ingestion of certain materials or chemical substances during tooth development, or from the presence of caries. This stain is permanent and cannot be removed.

SUBMUCOSA - the layer of tissue under the mucous membrane.

SUCCEDANEOUS - a tooth that replaces or succeeds another.

SULCUS - a broad depression on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth.

SUPERGINGIVAL - the area above the gingival margin.

SUPERNUMERARY TEETH - Extra teeth, in addition to the development of the normal 32.

SURGICAL TEMPLATE - a clear tray used in immediate denture fabrication.

SUTURE - a joining of two bones, also stitxhes.

Top of Page



TEETHING - baby teeth pushing through gums.

TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ) - temporo (temporal bone), mandibular (lower jaw). This is the connecting hinge between the lower jaw and base of the skull. Also known as T.M.J.. T.M.J. treatment is sometimes paid under medical.

TERMINAL MESIAL STEP - the position of a vertical plane along the distal surfaces when the deciduous second molars are in Class I position.

TERMINAL PLANE - the distal surfaces of the maxillary and mandibular deciduous second molars that are on the same line or plane.


TMD - temporomandibular disorder; a problem with the joint that connects the lower jaw with the skull. Typically associated with a pop and pain in the joint.

TOPICAL - applied directly to an infected area for treatment.

TRANSVERSE RIDGE - a linear elevation that crosses a surface (usually the occlusal surface).

TRIANGULAR RIDGE - a linear elevation that forms a triangle.

TRIFURCATION - forked or divided into three parts.

TUBERCLE - a small, rounded projection.

TUBEROSITY - a large, rounded projection.

Top of Page


ULTRASONIC - the conversion of high frequency electrical current into mechanical vibrations.

UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS - These precautions require all dental staff involved in patient care to use appropriate protective wear, such as gloves, masks and eyewear. After each patient visit, the gloves must be discarded, hands washed and a new pair of gloves donned for the next patient. These precautions are considered universal because they are used for each and every patient to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases.

USUAL, CUSTOMARY AND REASONABLE (UCR) - the doctor's fee is considered usual, customary, and reasonable if it meets the following requirements: 1. Usual: the doctor's usual fee is charged; 2. Customary: if the doctor's fee falls in the same range as other dentists in the area; 3. Reasonable: the doctor's modified fee is justified because of special circumstances.

Top of Page


VENTRAL - the underside, used when speaking of the tongue; thus the ventral surface of the tongue is the underside of the tongue.


VIRGIN TEETH - teeth that are free from decay or restorations.

Top of Page


WAIVER OF DEDUCTIBLE - under some policies certain procedures are excluded from the deductible.

WISDOM TOOTH - the third molar; the eighth tooth from the center of mouth.

Top of Page


XEROSTOMIA - dryness of the mouth.

Top of Page


No Terms Available

Top of Page


No Terms Available

Top of Page