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Glossary

A

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.

Adhesive Dentistry: Contemporary term for dental restorations that involve "bonding" of composite resin or porcelain fillings to natural teeth.

Adjustment: a modification made upon a dental prosthesis after it has been completed and inserted into the mouth.

Allergy: Unfavorable systemic response to a foreign substance or drug.

Alveolar bone: The bone surrounding the root of the tooth, anchoring it in place; loss of this bone is a possible sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

Amalgam: A common filling material used to repair cavities. The material, also known as "silver fillings," contains mercury in combination with silver, tin, copper, and sometimes zinc.

Anaerobic bacteria: bacteria that do not need oxygen to grow; they are generally associated with periodontal disease

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.

Antiseptic: a chemical agent that can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.

Apex: The tip of the root of a tooth.

Appliance: any removable dental restoration or orthodontic device.

Arch: Describes the alignment of the upper or lower teeth.

Attrition: Loss of structure due to natural wear.

 

 

B

Biopsy: Removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic examination.

Bite: Relationship of the upper and lower teeth on closure (occlusion).

Bite Wings: Caries (decay) detection devices used during X-rays.

Bleaching: Chemical treatment of natural teeth that uses peroxide to produce the whitening effect.

Bonding: A process by which dental materials are mechanically attached to teeth; this would include composite resin, porcelain, and metal.

Bone Resorption: Decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth, which is a common result of periodontal (gum disease).

Braces: Devices used by orthodontists to gradually reposition teeth to a more favorable alignment.

Bridge: Stationary dental prosthesis (appliance) fixed to teeth adjacent to a space; replaces one or more missing teeth, cemented or bonded to supporting teeth or implants adjacent to the space. Also called a fixed partial denture.

Bruxism: Grinding or gnashing of the teeth, most commonly while the patient is asleep.

 

 

C

Calculus: Hard residue, commonly known as tartar, that forms on teeth due to inadequate plaque control. Calculus teeth often are stained yellow or brown.

Cap: Common term for dental crown.

Caries: tooth decay or "cavities;" a dental infection caused by toxins produced by bacteria.

Cast or Model: Reproduction of structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold.

Cellulitis: Soft tissue infection causing extensive hard swelling, a potentially dangerous condition requiring immediate attention.

Cementum: Hard tissue that covers the roots of teeth.

Chart: Log of dental or medical records.

Clasp: Device that retains a removable partial denture to stationary teeth.

Cleaning: removal of plaque and calculus (tarter) from teeth, generally above the gum line.

Cleft lip: A physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip that appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. This separation often extends beyond the base of the nose and includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum.

Composite Resin: Material composed of plastic with small glass or ceramic particles that is usually cured with filtered light or chemical catalyst.

Cosmetic Dentistry: If you're interested in correcting minor flaws in your smile we can help. Your teeth may be stained from years of coffee or wine drinking that has dulled your smile. We can help with an in-office or at-home plan to whiten them. Veneers and bonding can help correct minor flaws and gaps and will improve your smile.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation): Artificial procedures employed by a rescuer after cessation of breathing or heart stoppage.

Crossbite: Reverse biting relationship of upper and lower teeth also known as underbite, as in Class III malocclusuion (prognathic jaw).

Crown: Dental crowns and bridges are very popular among people of all ages, of either sex, and regardless of ethnic diversity. These are mostly cosmetic forms of treatment, covering unsightly teeth or replacing missing teeth for most. Because they look (and feel) more like real teeth, they are most commonly sought for those who have crooked, broken, cracked, or chipped teeth as a way of improving overall mouth health and achieving a beautiful smile. Tooth crowns are placed over existing teeth, and are typically a way to cover teeth that have metal fillings or misshapen teeth. Because they go on over what is already there, there is no need for the tooth to be pulled. Teeth crowns are an excellent way to improve a smile quickly and efficiently, and more permanent crowns normally replace temporary ones in less than a week.

If you need a crown or bridge you'll be expertly fitted by one of our specialists. No more worrying that the crown or bridge is going to be ill fitting or look unnatural. Let us help keep your smile flawless.

Curettage: Removal of diseased tissue from a periodontal pocket.

Cusp: Mound on posterior teeth.

Cyst: A soft or hard tissue sac filled with fluid.

 

 

D

Decay: Destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria.

Deciduous Teeth: Commonly called "baby teeth" or primary teeth; the first set of (usually) 20 teeth.

Demineralization: Loss of mineral from tooth enamel just below the surface in a carious lesion; usually appears as a white area on the tooth surface.

Dental Implant: A dental implant is a titanium cylinder surgically placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw to provide support for a dental restoration or appliance. Whether you have lost one or more teeth due to decay or an accident, we can help you feel confident and get you smiling again with natural looking dental implants.

Dentin: Inner layer of tooth structure, immediately under the surface enamel.

Dentition: The arrangement of natural or artificial teeth in the mouth.

Denture: Dentures are removable (partial or complete) set of artificial teeth. Whether you have lost teeth due to decay or an accident, we can help you feel confident and get you smiling again with properly fitting dentures. Let us work with you to determine what method works best for you.

Diastema: A space between teeth.

Dry mouth: A condition in which the flow of saliva is reduced and there is not enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Dry mouth can be the result of certain medications (such as antihistamines and decongestants), certain diseases (such as Sjögren's syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes), certain medical treatments (such as head and neck radiation), as well as nerve damage, dehydration, tobacco use, and surgical removal of the salivary glands. Also called xerostomia.

Dry socket: a common complication that occurs when either a blood clot has failed to form in an extracted tooth socket or else the blood clot that did form has been dislodged.

 

 

E

Edentulous: Having no teeth.

Enamel: The hard, mineralized material that covers the outside portion of the tooth that lies above the gum line (the crown).

Endodontics: A field of dentistry concerned with the biology and pathology of the dental pulp and root tissues of the tooth and with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and injuries of these tissues. Root canal therapy is a commonly performed endodontic procedure.

Endodontist: A dental specialist concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth.

Epidemiology: The study of the incidence of disease in a population.

Eruption: Tthe emergence of the tooth from its position in the jaw.

Extraction: Removal of a tooth.

 

 

F

Filling: Restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain, or resin materials.

Fistula: Channel emanating pus from an infection site; a gum boil.

Flap surgery: Lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures.

Flossing: A thread-like material used to clean between the contact areas of teeth; part of a good daily oral hygiene plan.

Fluoride: A mineral that helps strengthen teeth enamel making teeth less susceptible to decay. Fluoride is ingested through food or water, is available in most toothpastes, or can be applied as a gel or liquid to the surface of teeth by a dentist.

Fluorosis: Discoloration of the enamel due to too much fluoride ingestion (greater than one part per million) into the bloodstream, also called enamel mottling.

Freeway Space: The distance between the upper and lower teeth with the lower jaw in rest position.

Frenectomy: The removal or reshaping of thin muscle tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum, or the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

Full Denture: A removable dental prosthesis (appliance) that replaces all upper or lower teeth.

Full Mouth Reconstruction: Extensive restorations of natural teeth with crowns and/or fixed bridges to manage bite problems.

 

 

G

General anesthesia: Controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of pain sensation, protective reflexes, and the ability to respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command.

General dentist: The primary care dental provider. This dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages overall oral health care needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, preventive education, and treating diseases of the mouth.

Geographic Tongue: Benign changes in the usual color and texture of tongue that does not require treatment.

Gingiva: The soft tissue that surrounds the base of the teeth; the pink tissue around the teeth.

Gingivectomy: Surgical removal of gum tissue.

Gingivitis: Inflamed, swollen, and reddish gum tissue that may bleed easily when touched or brushed. It is the first stage in a series of events that begins with plaque build up in the mouth and may end -- if not properly treated -- with periodontitis and tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth.

Gum recession: Exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums as a result of abrasion, erosion, periodontal disease, or surgery.

 

 

H

Halitosis: Bad breath of oral or gastrointestinal origin.

Handpiece: The instrument used to remove, shape, finish, or modify teeth and dental materials in dental operations.

Hard palate: The bony front portion of the roof of the mouth.

Hydrogen Peroxide: A disinfecting solution used in dental irrigation procedures or as a mouth rinse.

Hygienist: A licensed, auxiliary dental professional who is both an oral health educator and clinician who uses preventive, therapeutic, and educational methods to control oral disease.

Hyperemia: Increased blood flow that may cause dental sensitivity to temperature and sweets. May precede an abscess.

Hypersensitivity: A sharp, sudden painful reaction in teeth when exposed to hot, cold, sweet, sour, salty, chemical, or mechanical stimuli.

 

 

I

Immediate denture: A complete or partial denture that is made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the natural teeth are removed.

Impacted tooth: A tooth that is partially or completely blocked from erupting through the surface of the gum. An impacted tooth may push other teeth together or damage the bony structures supporting the adjacent tooth. Often times, impacted teeth must be surgically removed.

Impaction: A partial or completely unexposed tooth that is wedged against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue, precluding the eruption process.

Implant: A metal rod (usually made of titanium) that is surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone where a tooth is missing; it serves as the tooth root and anchor for the crown, bridge, or denture that is placed over it.

Impression: Mold made of the teeth and soft tissues.

Incision and drainage: Surgical incision of an abscess to drain pus.

Incisors: Four upper and four lower front teeth, excluding the cuspids (canine teeth). These teeth are used primarily for tearing and cutting.

Inlay: similar to a filling but the entire work lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of the tooth.

Interocclusal: The space between upper and lower teeth.

Interproximal: The surfaces of adjoining teeth.

Intraoral Camera: A small video camera used to view and magnify oral conditions from which images may be printed.

 

 

J

Jawbone: The hard bone that supports the face and includes alveolar bone, which anchors the teeth.

 

 

L

Lesion: Injury of bodily tissue due to infection, trauma or neoplasm.

Leukoplakia: A white or gray patch that develops on the tongue or the inside of the cheek. It is the mouth's reaction to chronic irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth.

Local Anesthesia: Partial or complete elimination of pain sensation, in the immediate vicinity of its application or injection.

 

 

M

Malocclusion: "Bad bite" or misalignment of the teeth or jaws.

Mandible: The lower jaw.

Mastication: The process of chewing food.

Maxilla: the upper jaw.

Mercury: A metal component of amalgam fillings.

Molars: Three back teeth in each dental quadrant used for grinding food.

Mouth guard: A device that is inserted into the mouth and worn over the teeth to protect them against impact or injury.

Mucogingival Junction (MGJ): The meeting of thick, protective gingival tissue around the teeth and the mucous lining of the cheeks and lips.

Muscle relaxant: A type of medication often prescribed to reduce muscle contractions, thus relieving pain.

 

 

N

Nerve: The tissue that conveys sensation, temperature and position information to the brain.

Nerve (root) canal: Dental pulp; the internal chamber of a tooth where the nerves and blood vessels pass.

Night guard: A removable appliance that fits over the upper or lower teeth used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding or gnashing of the teeth during sleep.

 

 

O

Occlusion: The relationship of the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are closed.

Onlay: A type of restoration (filling) made of metal, porcelain, or acrylic that is more extensive than an inlay in that it covers one or more cusps. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns.

Oral cavity: The mouth.

Oral hygiene: Process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures.

Oral surgeon: The oral health care provider who performs many types of surgical procedures in and around the entire face, mouth, and jaw area.

Orthodontics: Dental specialty that using braces, retainers, and other dental devices to treat misalignment of teeth, restoring them to proper functioning.

Orthodontist: The oral health provider who specializes in diagnosis, prevention, interception, and treatment of malocclusions, or "bad bites," of the teeth and surrounding structures. This is the specialist whose responsibility it is to straighten teeth by movement of the teeth through bone by the use of bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances or retainers.

Overbite: An excessive protrusion of the upper jaw resulting in a vertical overlap of the front teeth.

Overjet: An excessive protrusion of the upper jaw resulting in a horizontal overlap of the front teeth.

Overdenture: Denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants.

Osseous: Boney.

 

 

P

Palate: Hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth.

Palliative Treatment: The non-invasive relief of irritating conditions.

Panoramic X-ray: A type of X-ray that shows a complete two dimensional representation of all the teeth in the mouth. This X-ray also shows the relationship of the teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head.

Parasthesia: A partial loss of sensation that is temporary or permanent.

Partial denture: A removable appliance that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

Pathology: Study of disease.

Pedodontics or pediatric dentistry: Dental specialty focusing on treatment of infants, children, and young adults.

Pedodontist/pediatric dentist: The oral health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the dental problems of children from infancy to young adulthood. This provider also usually cares for special needs patients.

Periapical: Region at the end of the roots of teeth.

Periapical X-rays: X-rays providing complete side views from the roots to the crowns of the teeth.

Periodontal ligament: The connective tissue that surrounds the tooth (specifically covering the cementum) and connects the tooth to the jawbone, holding it in place.

Periodontist: the dental specialist who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the soft tissues of the mouth (the gums) and the supporting structures (bones) of the teeth (both natural and man-made teeth).

Periodontitis: a more advanced stage of periodontal disease in which the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets and alveolar bone is destroyed.

Periodontium: The tissue that lines the socket into which the root of the tooth fits.

Permanent teeth: The teeth that replace the deciduous or primary teeth -- also called baby teeth. There are (usually) 32 adult teeth 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 colorless, sticky film composed of undigested food particles mixed with saliva and bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. Plaque left alone eventually turns in to tartar or calculus and is the main factor in causing dental caries and periodontal disease.

Pontic: A replacement tooth mounted on a fixed or removal appliance.

Porcelain: A tooth-colored, sand-like material; much like enamel in appearance.

Porcelain crown: All porcelain restoration covering the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum line).

Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crown: Restoration with metal caping (for strength) covered by porcelain (for appearance).

Porcelain inlay or onlay: Tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain, 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: Thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy; provides retention for a capping that replaces lost tooth structure.

Post-Core: A post and buildup to replace lost tooth structure and retain crowns.

Pregnancy gingivitis: Gingivitis that develops during pregnancy. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy -- especially the increased level of progesterone -- may make it easier for certain gingivitis-causing bacteria to grow and make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque and exaggerate the body's response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque.

Pregnancy tumors: An extreme inflammatory reaction to a local irritation (such as food particles or plaque) that occurs in up to 10% of pregnant women and often in women who also have pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy tumors appear on inflamed gum tissue as large lumps with deep red pinpoint markings on it, usually near the upper gum line. The red lump glistens, may bleed and crust over, and can make eating and speaking difficult and cause discomfort.

Primary teeth: The first set of 20 temporary teeth. Also called baby teeth, the primary dentition, or deciduous teeth, normally fall out one by one between ages 6 and 12.

Prophylaxis: The cleaning of the teeth for the prevention of periodontal disease and tooth decay.

prosthetics: a fixed or removable appliance used to replace missing teeth (for example, bridges, partials, and dentures).

Prosthodontist: A dental specialist who is skilled in restoring or replacing teeth with fixed or removable prostheses (appliances), maintaining proper occlusion; treats facial deformities with artificial prostheses such as eyes, ears, and noses.

Pulp: The living part of the tooth, located inside the dentin. Pulp contains the nerve tissue and blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tooth.

Pulp Chamber: The center or innermost portion of the tooth containing the pulp.

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

Pyorrhea: Older term for periodontal (gum) disease.

 

 

R

Recontouring: A procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth's length, shape, or surface. Also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing.

Reline: The acrylic restoration of a denture base to compensate for bone loss. Direct in conjunction with a dental laboratory.

Remineralization: Redeposition or replacement of the tooth's minerals into a demineralized (previously decayed) lesion. This reverses the decay process, and is enhanced by the presence of topical fluoride.

Restorations: Any replacement for lost tooth structure or teeth; for example, bridges, dentures, fillings, crowns, and implants.

Retainer: A removable appliance used to maintain teeth in a given position (usually worn at night).

Retained Root: The partial root structure remaining in the jaw after extraction or fracture of a natural tooth.

Root: The tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw.

Root Canal: Unfortunately not all teeth are perfectly healthy. We can save a damaged tooth by performing a root canal - which removes decay on the interior space of the root. We will discuss this and other options with you before determining what works best for you.

Root Canal Therapy: The process of removing the pulp of a tooth and filling it with an inert material.

Root Resection: The removal of a portion of diseased root structure, but retaining the remaining natural tooth.

Rubber Dam: A soft latex sheet used to isolate one or more teeth from contamination by oral fluids and to keep materials from falling to the back of the throat.

 

 

S

Saliva: A clear lubricating fluid in the mouth containing water, enzymes, bacteria, mucus, viruses, blood cells and undigested food particles.

Salivary glands: Glands located under tongue and in cheeks that produce saliva.

Scaling and root planing: A deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure whereby plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing).

Sealants: A thin, clear or white resin substance that is applied to the biting surfaces of teeth to prevent decay.

Sedative: A type of medication used to reduce pain and anxiety, and create a state of relaxation.

Sleep apnea: The periodic interruption or delay in breathing during sleep.

Splint: The connection of two or more teeth so that they function as a stronger single structure.

Soft palate: The back one-third of the roof of the mouth composed of soft tissue.

Space maintainer: Dental device that holds the space lost through premature loss of baby teeth.

Stains: Can be either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic stain is located on the outside of the tooth surface originating from external substances such as tobacco, coffee, tea, or food; usually removed by polishing the teeth with an abrasive prophylaxis paste. Intrinsic stain originates from the ingestion of certain materials or chemical substances during tooth development, or from the presence of caries. This stain is permanent and cannot be removed.

Stomatitis: An inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture. Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene, or a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans can cause the condition.

Supernumerary tooth: An extra tooth.

 

 

T

Tartar: Common term for dental calculus, a hard deposit that adheres to teeth; produces rough surface that attracts plaque.

Teething: Baby teeth pushing through the gums.

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)/Temporomandibular joint (TMJ): The term given to a problem that concerns the muscles and joint that connect the lower jaw with the skull. The condition is characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw. It is often accompanied by a clicking or popping sound when the jaw is opened or closed.

Thrush: An infection in the mouth caused by the fungus Candida.

Tooth bud: The early embryonic structure that becomes a tooth.

Tooth whitening: A chemical or laser process to lighten the color of teeth.

Topical anesthetic: Ointment that produces mild anesthesia when applied to a soft tissue surface.

Torus: Common bony protuberance on the palate or lower jaw.

Transplant: Placing a natural tooth in the empty socket of another tooth.

Trauma: Injury caused by external force, chemical, temperature extremes, or poor tooth alignment.

Trench Mouth: Gum disease characterized by severe mouth sores and loss of tissue.

 

 

U

Ultrasound: A treatment in which deep heat is applied to an affected area to relieve soreness or improve mobility. In dentistry, ultrasound can be used to treat temporomandibular disorders.

Underbite: When the lower jaw protrudes forward causing the lower jaw and teeth to extend out beyond the upper teeth.

Unerupted tooth: A tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct position in the dental arch.

 

 

V

Veneer: A thin, custom-made shell of tooth-colored plastic or porcelain that is bonded directly to the front side of natural teeth to improve their appearance -- for example, to replace lost tooth structure, close spaces, straighten teeth, or change color and/or shape.

Vertical Dimension: The arbitrary space between the upper and lower jaws upon closure that may decrease over time due to wear, shifting or damage to the teeth.

 

 

W

Wisdom teeth: Third (last) molars that usually erupt between ages 18 and 25.

 

 

X

Xerostomia: Dry mouth or decrease in the production of saliva.

X-rays: High frequency light (or radiation) that penetrates different substances with different rates and absorption. In dentistry, there are typically four types of X-rays: periapical, bite-wing, occlusal, and panoramic.

 

 

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