Glossary

Abrasion: The loss of tooth structure commonly caused by improper brushing technique using a hard toothbrush, which may also produce gum recession.

Abscess: An infection of a tooth, the oral soft tissues, or the upper or lower jawbones

Abutment: A tooth or teeth that support a permanent or removable bridge

Allograft: Transplant within the same species from one individual to a genetically different recipient

Allergy: An unfavorable systemic reaction to a foreign substance or drug

Alveolar bone: The portion of the jawbone that anchors the roots of teeth

Alveolar mucosa: The loosely attached mucous membrane covering the basal part of the jaw and continuing into the floor of the mouth inwardly and into the cheek vestibule outwardly

Amalgam: A common filling material, also known as a "silver filling"

Analgesia: Absence of sensibility of pain

Anesthesia: Total or partial elimination of pain sensation

Anterior teeth: The six upper or six lower front teeth

Antibiotic: A drug that prevents or slows bacterial growth

ANUG: An acronym for Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, commonly known as trench mouth, where the gums become red, swollen and painful due to a spirochete infection

Apex: The tip of the root of a tooth

Apicoectomy: The surgical removal of the root tip to treat a dead nerve

Attached gingiva: The dense gum tissue tightly bound down to the tooth and underlying bone that extends from the gum margin to the alveolar mucosa

Bifurcation (trifurcation): The juncture of two (three) roots in posterior teeth, primarily molars

Biopsy: Removal of tissue for microscopic examination

Bite (occlusion): The relationship of the upper and lower teeth when closed together

Bitewings: X-rays that show both the upper and lower teeth in one view, generally used to detect decay

Bone resorption: A decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth, generally caused by periodontal disease

Bridge: A fixed dental appliance that is cemented or bonded to the teeth adjacent to a space, and which replaces one or more missing teeth

Bruxism: Grinding or clenching of the teeth, often done while sleeping

Calculus: A hard residue, also know as "tartar," that forms on teeth when salts from body fluids (primarily saliva) are precipitated onto plaque that has been left undisturbed due to inadequate oral hygiene. The calculus, which is similar to a barnacle on a boat hull, cannot be removed without professional help.

Cantilever bridge: A fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth on one end only

Cap: The common term for a dental crown

Caries: Tooth decay or "cavities"

Cast (or model): The reproduction of mouth structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold

Cavitron: An ultrasonic cleaning instrument

Cementum: The hard layer of tooth structure that covers the root

Chart: The dental record of a patient; the recording of a dental examination

Cleaning: The removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) from teeth, generally above the gum line, usually performed by a dental hygienist

Connective tissue graft: A gingival graft using connective tissue as the donor

Cosmetic (aesthetic) dentistry: Dentistry performed to enhance the appearance

Crown: The portion of a tooth above the gum line, or a dental restoration covering all or most of the natural crown

Curettage: The removal of diseased tissue from the inner lining of a periodontal pocket

Cuspid (or canine): The "eye teeth", found between the laterals and the premolars

Cyst: a soft or hard tissue sac, often filled with fluid

DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery — a degree identical to a DMD

DMD: Doctor of Medical Dentistry - a degree identical to a DDS

Decay: loss of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria

Deciduous teeth: The first set of teeth, also called the baby teeth

Dentin: The inner hard structure of a tooth between the enamel (or cementum) exteriorly and the pulp interiorly

Dental implant: A synthetic device surgically placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw to act as a root to hold a dental restoration or appliance

Dentition: The natural or artificial teeth present in the mouth

Denture: A removable set of artificial teeth, either complete or partial

Diastema: A space between teeth

Enamel: The hard tissue covering the crown of a natural tooth

Endodontist: A specialist who treats diseases of the tooth pulp (nerve chamber)

Eruption: The process of teeth extruding through the gums

Explorer: An instrument used to detect decay on the surface of teeth

Extraction: removal of a tooth

Eye teeth: The lay term for the canine (cuspid) teeth

Filling: The restoration of lost tooth structure with synthetic materials

Fistula: An opening in the gum from which pus drains from an infection site, often called a
gum boil

Flap surgery: The reflection back of gum tissue to expose underlying tooth and bone structures for treatment

Full denture: A removable dental appliance that replaces all upper or lower teeth

Free gingival graft: A gingival graft where the donor tissue is dissected and separated from the patient before being reattached in a different location

Frenotomy with Fenestration: The severing of the loose muscle tissue that attaches from the upper or lower lips to the gum, or from the tongue to the floor of the mouth

Frenum: A loose bundle of muscles and fibers that connect from the upper or lower lips to the gum, or from the tongue to the floor of the mouth

Furcation: The "fork-shaped" junction of the roots of a tooth

Genetics: The study of heredity

Guided tissue regeneration: A technique of excluding certain tissue during surgical healing so other desired tissues may have time to form

Gingiva: The gum tissue

Gingival grafting: The surgical addition of new gingiva where inadequate attached gingiva exists, which may include recovering roots exposed by recession

Gingivitis: Inflammation of gum tissue
 

Gingivectomy: The surgical removal of gum tissue

Gum boil: An abscess on the gum caused by draining infection

Gum recession: The exposure of the root of a tooth due to movement of the gum, generally resulting from abrasion, periodontal disease or surgery

Halitosis: Bad breath

Hygienist: A dental auxiliary who cleans teeth, performs periodontal scaling and root planing, and provides patient education

Impaction: A partial or completely unerupted tooth

Implant: See Dental implant

Impression: A mold made of the teeth and soft tissues from which models are made

Incision and drainage: The surgical incision of an abscess to drain suppuration (pus)

Incisors: The upper and lower four front teeth, which include the central and laterals

Interproximal: Located between the teeth

Jacket: A lay term for a crown

LANAP®: Patented protocol that is a minimally-invasive surgical method of treating and often reversing gum disease

LANAP®The LANAP®  protocol is a laser-based treatment for gum disease. There is no cutting and suturing with the LANAP® protocol.

LAPIP™ The LAPIP™  protocol is the laser-based, predictable solution for ailing implants.

Laughing gas: Nitrous oxide, an odorless inhalation agent that reduces anxiety and produces some analgesic effect

Local anesthesia: A partial or complete elimination of pain sensation in a specific area, commonly referred to as "Novocaine"

Malocclusion: A misalignment of the upper and lower teeth

Mandible: The lower jaw

Maryland bridge: A bridge that is bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth

Mastication: The chewing of food

Maxilla: The upper jaw

Molars: The back teeth used for grinding food, including the 6 and 12-year molars and the wisdom teeth

Mucogingival junction: The meeting of the attached gingival and the alveolar mucosa

NSAID: Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, often used as a dental analgesic, including Motrin, Naprosyn, Celebrex, and Vioxx

Nerve: A tissue that conveys sensation, temperature, position information to the brain

Night guard: An appliance worn at night to reduce tooth wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding or clenching the teeth during sleep

Nitrous oxide: See Laughing gas

Novocaine: The lay term for a local anesthetic

Occlusion: The relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure

Oral cavity: The mouth

Oral hygiene: The cleaning of the teeth and related structures

Orthodontics: The dental specialty that treats misalignment of teeth

Osseous: Pertaining to the bone

Osseous Surgery: The recontouring of bony defects caused by periodontal disease

Osteopenia: A condition characterized by the progressive loss of bone density and thinning of bone tissue

Overdenture: A denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants

Palate: The hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth

Partial denture: A removable dental appliance replacing one or more natural teeth

Pathology: The study of disease

Periapical: Around the end of the roots of teeth

Periodontal disease: Disease of the supporting structures of the teeth, including the gum and bone

Periodontal maintenance: Periodic cleaning of the teeth and gums in a patient with a history of periodontal disease

Periodontal pocket: The deepened sulcus (space) between the gum and tooth, resulting from bone loss caused by periodontal disease

Periodontal surgery: Surgery of the gums or supporting tissues of teeth

Periodontist: A dentist specializing in the treatment of the gums and supporting soft and hard tissues of the teeth, and in the surgical placement and management of dental implants

Periodontal chart: The record of a patient’s periodontal health, which includes the depth of the sulcus or pocket around each tooth

Plaque: A soft, sticky film that accumulates on teeth, composed primarily of bacteria and food debris, that is the primary cause of periodontal disease and tooth decay

Pontic: A replacement tooth mounted on a fixed or removable appliance

Pre-molar (or bicuspid) : The side teeth behind the cuspids and in front of the molars

Probing: The measurement of sulcus or pocket depth around a tooth

Prognosis: The anticipated outcome of treatment

Prophylaxis: The cleaning of teeth, often performed by a dental hygienist

Prosthesis: An artificial replacement for a body part

Prosthodontist: A dentist who has specialized in restoring or replacing teeth with fixed or removable appliances

Pulp: The nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue inside a tooth

Pulp chamber: The center portion of the tooth containing the pulp

Pyorrhea: An older term for periodontal (gum) disease

Radiograph: The use of roentgen rays to image hard tissues

Regeneration Surgery: Surgery performed to reform hard or soft tissue lost due to periodontal disease

Restoration: A filling or crown used to repair a damaged tooth

Ridge augmentation: A procedure designed to increase the amount of bone height or width in the upper or lower jaw

Root: The part of the tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw

Root canal: A common term for root canal therapy

Root canal therapy: The process of removing the pulp of a tooth and filling it with an inert material

Root resection: The removal of one or more roots, retaining the crown of the tooth

Saliva: The clear lubricating fluid in the mouth containing water, mucus, enzymes, bacteria, blood cells and food particles

Scaling and root planing: The removal of plaque and calculus from the crown and root of a tooth

Splint: The connection of two or more teeth so they support and strengthen each other

Sulcus: The normal space found between the gum and tooth

Suppuration: pus

Tartar: The common term for dental calculus

TMD (or TMJ disorder): Temporomandibular disorder; the conditions characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw related to the temporomandibular joint

TMJ: The temporomandibular joint, where the lower jaw attaches to the skull

Topical anesthetic: An ointment or salve that produces mild anesthesia when applied to the tissue surface

Torus: A bony protuberance commonly seen on the palate, or inside of the lower jaw

Trench mouth: See ANUG

True Regeneration™ regeneration of new cementum, ligament and alveolar bone. 

Wisdom teeth: The third (last) molars

Xerostomia: A decrease in the production of saliva resulting in a dry mouth

X-ray: See radiograph