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Dental Glossary

Abscess – infection caused by severe tooth decay, trauma or gum disease.
Amalgam – a silver and mercury material used for fillings.
Anesthetic – a drug used by your doctor to eliminate a patient’s localized pain during certain dental procedures.
Anterior – the teeth in the front of your mouth.
Antiseptic – an agent that can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.
Apex – the very tip of the root of a tooth.
Aspirator – a suction device your dentist uses to remove saliva from your mouth.

Bleaching Agent – a gel used to whiten and brighten teeth.
Bonding – a plastic composite painted on the teeth to correct stains or damage.
Bridge – one or more artificial teeth attached to your adjacent teeth.
Bruxism – the clenching or grinding of teeth, most commonly while sleeping.

Calculus – the hardened plaque that can form on neglected or prone teeth, commonly known as tartar.
Canine – the pointy teeth just behind the laterals.
Caries – another name for cavities or decayed teeth.
Cavity – a tiny hole in the tooth caused by decay.
Central – the two upper and two lower teeth in the center of the mouth.
Crown – an artificial tooth or cover made of porcelain or metal.
Cuspid – the pointy teeth just behind the laterals, also known as canines.

Decalcification – the loss of calcium from the teeth.
Deciduous Teeth – also called “baby teeth.”
Dental Implants – an implant permanently attached to the jawbone that replaces a missing tooth or teeth.
Denture – a removable set of artificial teeth.

Enamel – the hard surface of the tooth above the gum line.
Endodontist – a dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases and infections of the dental pulp (inner tooth).
Extraction – the removal of a tooth or teeth.

Filling – a plug made of metal or composite material used to fill a tooth cavity.
Fluoride – a chemical solution used to harden teeth and prevent decay.

Gingivitis – inflammation of gums around the roots of the teeth.
Gums – the firm flesh that surrounds the roots of the teeth.

Impacted Tooth – often occurring with wisdom teeth, it is a tooth that sits sideways below the gum line, often requiring extraction.
Incisal – related to incisors (see below).
Incisor – one of the flat, sharp-edged teeth in the front of the mouth.
Inlays – a custom-made filling cemented into an unhealthy tooth.
Instant Orthodontics – alternative to braces using bonded porcelain veneers or crowns.

Lateral – these are the teeth adjacent to the centrals.

Night Guard – a plastic mouthpiece worn at night to prevent grinding of the teeth. Often used to treat TMJ.

Pedontist – also known as a pediatric dentist, a dentist that specializes in the treatment of children’s teeth.
Periodontist – a dentist specializing in the treatment of gum disease.
Plaque – a sticky buildup of acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Posterior Teeth – the teeth in the back of the mouth.
Primary Teeth – also known as “baby teeth” or deciduous teeth.
Prosthodontist – a dentist specializing in the restoration and replacement of missing teeth or severely damaged teeth.

Root – the portion of the tooth below your gum line.
Root Canal – cleaning out and filling the inside nerve of a tooth that is heavily decayed.

Sealant – plastic coating applied to teeth to prevent decay. Used most commonly for children.
Secondary Teeth – the permanent teeth.
Six-Year Molar – commonly known as “the first molar.”
Sleep Apnea – a potentially serious disorder in which a sleeping person may stop breathing for 10 seconds or more, often continuously throughout the night.

Tartar – see calculus.
TMJ Syndrome – a disorder associated with the joint of the jaw. Often caused by a misalignment of or a disparity in upper and lower jaw sizes.
Tooth Whitening – a process designed to whiten and brighten teeth.
Twelve-Year Molar – commonly known as “the second molar.”

Veneer – a plastic, porcelain or composite material used to improve the attractiveness of a stained or damaged tooth.