Dental Terms Glossary
Common Dental Terms
We’ve put together this handy reference guide of terms you might hear when speaking with your dentist or support staff.
Please don’t hesitate to ask your dental care provider for clarification of any terms. We’re here to help make your experience as pleasant as possible!
Abrasion: Loss of tooth structure caused by a hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique or bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth).
Abscess: An infection of a tooth, soft tissue or bone.
Abutment: A tooth or teeth that supports a fixed or removable bridge.
Adhesive Dentistry: Contemporary term for dental restorations that involve "bonding" of composite resin or porcelain fillings to natural teeth.
Air Abrasion: Removal of tooth structure by blasting a tooth with air and abrasive, a relatively new technology that may avoid the need for anesthetic.
Allergy: Unfavorable systemic response to a foreign substance or drug.
Alveolar Bone: The jaw bone that anchors the roots of teeth.
Amalgam: A most common filling material, also known as silver fillings, containing mercury (approximately 50%), silver, tin, copper and zinc.
Analgesia: A state of pain relief or an agent that lessens pain.
Anesthesia: Partial or complete elimination of pain sensation. Numbing a tooth is an example of local anesthesia; general anesthesia produces partial or complete unconsciousness.
Anterior Teeth: The six upper or six lower front teeth.
Antibiotic: A drug that stops or slows the growth of bacteria.
ANUG: An acronym for Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, commonly known as trench mouth or Vincent's disease, which can be aggravated by stress and/or smoking.
Apex: The tip of the root of a tooth.
Apicoectomy: Surgical removal of the root tip to treat a dead tooth.
Arch: Describes the alignment of the upper or lower teeth.
Attrition: Loss of structure due to natural wear.