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Glossary of Dental Terms

A handy reference

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. We’re here to help make your experience as pleasant as possible!


Cleaning of the teeth for the prevention of periodontal disease and tooth decay.


An artificial appliance for the replacement for a body part.


‘Prosthodontics’ involves dentures, bridges, crowns, implants, and similar areas of expertise commonly associated with cosmetic dentistry. Many dentists who specialize in prosthodontics also go on to receive special training in oral or maxillofacial surgery or prosthodontics. This allows them to fix or repair other missing facial features such as nose, eyes, and/or ears, to name a few.Dentures: A prosthodontist specializes in replacing parts of the mouth, jaw, or teeth, often using an artificial device such as dentures, partial dentures, and other items to improve the appearance and correct common oral problems. Dentures cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars typically, in addition to prosthodontist fees. However, affordable dentures exist for those who learn how to find them.Dental Implants: Sometimes, a missing tooth will create the need for a dental implant. A dentist typically uses implants replace a missing tooth or teeth. Dental implants are normally made of titanium at the root, with a traditional crown as the tooth itself. They are an excellent alternative to pulling several teeth in order to utilize a bridge or to get dentures. However, dentures can be made from implants, but can be quite costly without dental insurance coverage.Since dental implants look just like natural teeth, it’s impossible to tell them apart. This is good for those who have had one or more teeth implanted, especially the most visible front teeth. Not having to feel self-conscious about a missing tooth or an obviously different tooth will improve self-image and increase confidence. No matter what age the patient is, allowing a cosmetic dentist to add a dental implant (or more than one) is well worth the cost.The implant process normally takes about six months overall. First, the mouth must be measured and the tooth/teeth must be created to fit the individual. Then, it must be implanted into the mouth and anchored to the jawbone. After that, it has to have time to heal properly, becoming an extension of the jaw. Finally, the permanent crown is put on the implant and it looks just like a normal tooth. Although the process seems long and complicated, the results will last a very long time.Dentists who specialize in this field do not simply replace teeth. They also care for and maintain their work, and are constantly assessing the needs of new patients. In most cases, a full is required for this industry, with the addition of at least two more years to learn the specialty aspect. This branch of dentistry is not new, but is becoming more popular each year, as more people turn to dentistry to correct problems.Most insurance policies cover at least a portion of a prosthodontic procedure, so long as the treatment is not viewed as purely cosmetic. Even then, dental insurance providers may cover at least part of the procedure, depending on such factors as the individual in question, why the treatment is needed, how much it costs, yearly deductibles, and similar factors. Check with the dental insurance carrier to learn more.


The nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue inside a tooth.

Pulp Cap

A medicated covering over a small area of exposed pulp tissue.

Pulp Chamber

The center or innermost portion of the tooth containing the pulp.


Complete removal of the pulp (commonly done in children’s teeth).


Inflammation of the pulp, which is common cause of toothache.


Partial removal of the pulp tissue.


Older term for periodontal (gum) disease.


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