Amalgam – Material made from mercury and other alloy mixtures
used to restore a drilled portion of a tooth.
Anesthesia – Medications used to relieve pain.
Anterior teeth – Front teeth. Also called incisors and cuspids.
Arch – The upper or lower jaw.
Baby bottle tooth decay – Caused by sugary substances in breast
milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby’s
Bicuspids -Back teeth used for chewing.
Bitewings – X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities.
Bonding – Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the
surface of the teeth.
Bridge – A fixed or removable appliance that replaces lost teeth.
Bruxism – Teeth grinding.
Calculus – A sticky substance (also called tartar) that has hardened.
Canal – The narrow chamber inside the tooth’s root.
Canines – Also called cuspids.
Canker sore – One that occurs on the delicate tissues inside
your mouth. A canker sore is usually light-colored at its base and can have a
red exterior border.
Caries – Another term for decay, which causes cavities.
Cold sore – Usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually
on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by
the herpes simplex virus, and it is usually painful and filled with
Composite filling – Tooth colored restorations, also known as
Composite resin – A tooth-colored resin combined with silica
or porcelain and used as a restoration material.
Contouring – The process of reshaping teeth.
Crown – An artificial cover that is placed on the top of a tooth
Cusps – The pointed parts on top of the back teeth’s chewing
Cuspids – Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge.
Dentin – The tooth layer underneath the enamel.
Denture – A removable set of teeth.
Endodontics – A form of dentistry that addresses problems affecting
the tooth’s root or nerve.
Fluoride – A naturally occurring substance added to water,
toothpastes and some rinses and used for strengthening the tooth’s enamel.
Fluorosis – A harmless over-exposure to fluoride and resulting
sometimes in tooth discoloration.
Gingiva – Another word for gum tissue.
Gingivitis – A minor disease of the gums caused by plaque.
Gum disease – An infection of the gum tissues. Also called
Impacted teeth – A condition in which a tooth fails to
erupt or only partially erupts.
Implant – A permanent appliance used to replace a missing
Incisor – Front teeth with cutting edges; located in the
center or on the sides near the front.
Inlay – An artificial filling made of various materials,
including porcelain, resin, or gold.
Laminate veneer – A shell that is bonded to the enamel
of a front tooth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin.
Laser – Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A single wavelength beam of highly concentrated energy.
Malocclusion – Bad bite relationship.
Mandible – The lower jaw.
Maxilla – The upper jaw.
Molar – Usually the largest teeth, near the rear of the
mouth. Molars have large chewing surfaces.
Neuromuscular Dentistry – are more than the aches and pains felt in around the neck and head that are associated with your teeth and jaw.
Onlay – A filling designed to protect the chewing surface
of a tooth.
Orthodontics – A field of dentistry that deals with tooth
and jaw alignment.
Overdenture – A non-fixed dental appliance applied to a
small number of natural teeth or implants.
Palate – Roof of the mouth.
Partial denture – A removable appliance that replaces teeth.
Also called a bridge.
Pedodontics – A field of dentistry that deals with children’s
Perio pocket – An opening formed by receding gums.
Periodontal disease – Infection of the gum tissues. Also
called gum disease.
Periodontist – A dentist who treats diseases of the gums.
Permanent teeth – The teeth that erupt after primary teeth.
Also called adult teeth.
Plaque – A sticky, colorless substance that covers the
teeth after sleep or periods between brushing.
Posterior teeth – The bicuspids and molars. Also called
the back teeth.
Primary teeth – A person’s first set of teeth. Also
called baby teeth or temporary teeth.
Prophylaxis – The act of cleaning the teeth.
Prosthodontics – The field of dentistry that deals with
artificial dental appliances.
Pulp – The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood,
nerves and connective tissue.
Receding gum – A condition in which the gums separate from
the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth’s
enamel and surrounding bone.
Resin filling – An artificial filling used to restore teeth.
Also called a composite filling.
Root canal – A procedure in which a tooth’s nerve
is removed and an inner canal cleansed and later filled.
Root planing – Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove
heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line.
Sealant – A synthetic material placed on the tooth’s
surface that protects the enamel and chewing surfaces.
TMJ – Temporomandibular joint disorder. Health problems
related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear.
Tarter – A hardened substance (also called calculus) that
sticks to the tooth’s surface.
Veneer – A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.
Whitening – A process that employs special bleaching agents
for restoring the color of teeth.
Wisdom tooth – Third set of molars that erupt last in adolescence.
For more dental terms, visit the ADA’s Dictionary of Dental Terms.