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!

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!

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!

Occlusion

The relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure.

Onlay

A laboratory-produced restoration covering one or more cusps of a tooth.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

A dental specialist who manages the diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases, injuries and deformities of the mouth and supporting structures. Requires four additional years of training after dental school.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Surgical procedures on the mouth including extractions, removal of cysts or tumors, and repair of fractured jaws. Unfortunately, not all teeth can be saved. If you are in need of an extraction, we will explain the full procedure and make sure it is as comfortable as possible. We can help with all your oral surgery needs.

Oral Cavity

The mouth.

Oral Hygiene

The process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures.

Oral Pathologist

A dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases.

Orthodontics

Orthodontics is somewhat similar to prosthodontics, since both use artificial means of replacing, repairing, or correcting the smile and jaw. However, where prosthodontics focus on bridges, dentures, and implants, orthodontics normally involves dental braces and similar features in order to do the job. Whether traditional metal braces or innovative invisible braces are used, the effect is normally a straight smile in a relatively short time.Dental braces are normally metal or metallic braces made from an alloy that hold teeth in a certain position and then are gradually adjusted to straighten crooked teeth, close gaps between teeth, or push teeth apart in some cases. Invisible braces are tools used to straighten teeth (normally minor repairs), but are nearly invisible to other people. Tools such as plates, retainers, and similar dental appliances aid in these efforts, and some are worn long after the braces are removed permanently. Orthodontists make their living in diagnosing, applying, and caring for braces in most cases.Most orthodontists must attend the normal four-eight year course required for a dentist, with the addition of a two-four year program for the specialty of orthodontics. This procedure is commonly covered by dental health insurance plans, although most times a yearly deductible must be met first. Without insurance, the treatment can cost thousands. Talk to the dental carrier to find out how much a treatment would cost for sure.Medical and healthcare professionals sometimes call this area of study dentofacial orthopedics. Those who have had procedures done in this field have improved self-esteem, along with an obviously straighter smile. However, what most do not realize is that orthodontic procedures normally decrease the instance of migraines, relieve tooth or gum pain, and can fix the cracking or popping in the opening/closing of the jaw common to many teens and adults.Not every person’s teeth grow in perfectly spaced and straight. Whether you are considering braces for a child or an adult, we can help determine the best orthodontics to meet every need.

Osseous

Boney

Overbite

A vertical overlap of the front teeth.

Overdenture

A denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants.

Overjet

A horizontal overlap of the front teeth.

Palate

Hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth.

Palliative Treatment

The non-invasive relief of irritating conditions.

Parasthesia

A partial loss of sensation that is temporary or permanent.

Partial Denture

A removable dental prosthesis (appliance) that replaces one or more natural teeth.

Pathology

The study of disease.

Pedodontics or Pediatric Dentistry

As the name implies, pediatric dentistry is the field of medicine that deals with dentists for children. A children’s dentist specializes in the care of a child’s small mouth and teeth, normally including braces, invisible braces, crowns, fillings, cleanings, plates, x-rays, and similar tools in everyday work. Caring for the growing mouth of a child is hard work, and requires more education for the specialty of pediatric dentistry.A pediatric dentist can give parents and caregivers special information regarding habits that can cause trouble later, such as thumb sucking, cavity-causing eating habits, and much more. They also understand the process of teeth growing, falling out, and allowing adult teeth to grow. Sometimes, teeth must be pulled for a variety of reasons, even for small children.Dentists for children are not solely concerned with tooth maintenance. They are also a vital part of a healthy smile as an adult, and can help a child grow up with an improved self-image. Learning about things that make a child healthy and happy is an important part of being a good parent, and finding a dentist that specializes in pediatric dentistry can do just that. Our pediatric dental specialists are trained to deal with the unique needs of children. This includes calming their fears, specialized equipment and educating them about good oral health.

Periapical (PA)

The region at the end of the roots of teeth.

Periodontal Chart

A record measuring the depth of gum pockets around the teeth.

Periodontal Surgery

The recontouring or aesthetic management of diseased gum and supporting tissue.

Periodontist

A dental specialist who treats the gums and supporting soft and hard tissues in order to retain natural teeth and prepare for surgical placement of dental implants. Heredity, diet and other factors can result in gum disease. We will help you get a treatment plan that aggressively attacks any form of periodontal disease that will soon have your mouth back in top health.

Permanent Teeth

Thirty-two adult teeth (approximately) in a complete dentition.

Pit

A small defect in the tooth enamel, or the junction of four formative lobes of a developing tooth.

Plaque

A soft, sticky substance that accumulates on teeth and is composed of bacteria and food debris due to inadequate dental hygiene.

Pontic

A replacement tooth mounted on a fixed or removal appliance.

Porcelain Crown

An all-porcelain restoration that covers the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum line).

Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) Crown

A restoration containing metal coping for strength covered by porcelain for appearance.

Porcelain Inlay or Onlay

A tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain and cemented or bonded in place.

Porcelain Veneers

A thin layer of porcelain, fabricated by a laboratory and bonded to a natural tooth to replace lost tooth structure, close spaces, straighten teeth, or change color and/or shape.

Post

A thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy. A post provides retention for a 'coping' which replaces lost tooth structure and retains crowns.

Resources

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Even though tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases, it’s entirely preventable. How?

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Now that marijuana use is becoming more mainstream and is no longer illegal in many states, it’s time to clear up some misconceptions and misinformation about the drug.

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How to Create Good Oral Health Habits for your Kids?

Even though tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases, it’s entirely preventable. How?