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Dental Terms Glossary

Abscess: An infection of a tooth, soft tissue, or bone, usually characterized by localized inflammation, probably with a collection of pus, and, frequently, swelling.

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.

Bicuspid: A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.

Bonding: A composite resin applied to a tooth to change its shape and/or color. Bonding also refers to how a filling, orthodontic appliance or some fixed partial dentures are attached to teeth.

Cavity: Missing tooth structure. A cavity may be due to decay, erosion or abrasion. If caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.

Crown: An artificial replacement that restores missing tooth structure by surrounding the remaining coronal tooth structure, or is placed on a dental implant.

Dental Prophylaxis: A scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus, and stains.

DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery.

DMD: Doctor of Dental Medicine.

Dental Implant: A device specially designed to be placed surgically within or on the mandibular or maxillary bone as a means of providing for dental replacement.

Dentin: Hard tissue which forms the bulk of the tooth and lies beneath the enamel and cementum.

Denture: An artificial substitute for some or all of the natural teeth and adjacent tissues.

Enamel: Hard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of the tooth.

Endodontist: A dental specialist who limits his/her practice to treating oral conditions that arise as a result of disease or injury of the dental pulp of the tooth, such as a root canal.

Gingivitis: Reversible inflammation of gum tissue not including the bone

Impacted Tooth: An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue, so that complete eruption is unlikely.

Malocclusion: The misalignment of teeth and or jaws.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the diagnosis, treatment and surgical correction of diseases, injuries, deformities, and defects of the mouth and jaws.

Orthodontist: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to designing and applying corrective and supportive appliances or braces to realign crooked teeth.

Periodontal: Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.

Plaque: A soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives.

Root Canal: The portion of the pulp cavity inside the root of a tooth; the chamber within the root of the tooth that contains the pulp.

Sealant: A plastic coating used to protect teeth from decay.

Veneer: A layer of tooth-colored material usually made of composite, porcelain, ceramic or acrylic resin, directly attached to the surface of the tooth; it is used to restore discolored, damaged, misshapen or misaligned teeth.

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