Dental dictionary

ABRASION

Abrasion is wear and tear of the teeth caused by the use of toothbrushes, toothpicks, floss, or other dental appliances.

ABUTMENT TEETH 

An abutment is also known as a “connector:” Abutment teeth are used as anchors for securing a dental bridge. 

ACID ETCH

Acid etching is a process through which the enamel is scraped with acid in order to improve efficacy of a resin sealant.

ALVEOLECTOMY

An alveolectomy is the surgical removal of a portion of the thickened ridge of bone that contains the tooth sockets. An alveolectomy is done in order to allow for a denture fitting.

ALVEOPLASTY

An alveoplasty is a surgery to smooth the jawbone in areas where the teeth have been removed or lost. It is usually performed after teeth are extracted.

AMALGAM FILLING

An amalgam filling contains a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper, and usually has a silver, metallic finish. 

ANODONTIA

Anodontia is the name of a rare genetic disorder when all primary or permanent teeth are not formed.

APICOECTOMY

An apicoecomy is the process of removing a tooth’s root tip, followed by the filling of the root end cavity. 

ASYMPTOMATIC

Being asymptomatic means showing no symptoms.

ATTRITION

When tooth-to-tooth contact causes wearing of those teeth and loss of tissue, this condition is called attrition.

BITEWING X-RAYS

A bitewing x-ray is when a patient bites on a piece of plastic containing x-ray film. These types of x-rays are used to detect decay between the teeth.

BRIDGES

A dental bridge connects a gap created by one or more missing teeth. The bridge is typically made up of a false tooth, flanked by one or more crowns on either side.

BRUXISM

Bruxism is another term for grinding of the teeth. 

CALCULUS

Calculus (or tartar) is a form of hardened dental plaque that can cause inflammation.

CARIES

Also known as tooth decay or cavities, caries is a breakdown of tooth enamel caused by bacteria in the mouth.

CLEFT PALATE

A cleft palate is an oral deformation that occurs when a baby is developing in utero. With this condition, the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth does not join together completely, causing a narrow opening or gap in the skin on the upper lip. 

COMPOSITE FILLING

A composite filling contains a mixture of plastic and glass, and usually is tooth-colored. 

CONNECTIVE TISSUE GRAFT

When a tooth has root exposure, skin is taken from a small flap in the mouth to cover the root. This is called a connective tissue graft. 

CROWN

A crown is a cap placed over a tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and appearance. The crown is cemented into place above the gum line. 

DENTURES

Dentures are a set of prosthetic teeth, usually in the form of a mouth piece, used to replace missing teeth. 

EMERGENCY PALLIATIVE TREATMENT

Endodontics is the practice of oral treatments involving cracked teeth, dental trauma, root canal therapy, and other dental pulp related issues.

ENDODONTIC TREATMENT

Endodontics involves the treatment for cracked teeth, dental trauma, root canal therapy and other dental pulp related issues.

EROSION

Erosion is the wear and tear on teeth due to acids in the mouth. 

EXOSTOSIS

Exostosis is the term given when new bone forms on the surface of a bone near the jaw line, on the gums, on the roof of the mouth, or under the tongue.

FRENECTOMY

A frenulum is an extra fold of skin found between the upper two front teeth, under the tongue, or on the sides of the gums. Removal of a frenulum is called a frenectomy.  

FULL MOUTH DEBRIDEMENT

At times, there is too much plaque and calculus in the mouth, prohibiting the performance of an oral evaluation. Removal of this plaque and calculus is called a full mouth debridement.

GINGIVAL CURETTAGE

A gingival curettage is the name of a surgery during which a curet (surgical instrument shaped like a spoon or scoop) is used to remove the soft tissue lining around the tooth socket.

GINGIVAL GRAFT

A gingival graft is one taken from the roof of the mouth to cover an exposed root.

GINGIVECTOMY

When gums pull away from the teeth, it can cause deep pockets and potentially gum disease. Removal of this gum tissue (or gingiva) is called a gingivectomy. 

HARD DENTURE RELINE

When dentures need relined, a hard reline can be done to readapt it with a pink acrylic resin. This resin is placed in an impression mold to re-form to the contours of the patient’s mouth.

HYPERPLASTIC TISSUE

When excessive tissue forms within the mouth (sometimes due to ill-fitting dentures), this is called hyperplastic tissue.

IMPACTED TEETH

Often associated with wisdom teeth, impacted teeth are those blocked from pushing through the gum into the mouth.

IMPLANT

A dental implant is an artificial tooth secured into the jaw, used to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place.

INLAY 

An inlay is a filling consisting of gold, porcelain, or a cured composite resin, which is then fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place. 

MANDIBULAR TEETH 

The teeth that make up the bottom or lower row in the mouth are called mandibular teeth. 

MAXILLARY TEETH 

The teeth that make up the top or upper row in the mouth are called maxillary teeth.  

NEOPLASM 

When a tumor develops in the mouth from the tissue that forms the teeth, this is called a neoplasm. 

NON-PATHOLOGIC 

A non-pathologic dental condition is one that is not caused by disease. 

NON-VITAL TOOTH 

A non-vital tooth is one in which the nerve has died and no blood flow is going to that tooth. 

OCCLUSAL ADJUSTMENT 

When a jaw is misaligned, a patient may undergo an occlusal adjustment. This includes the evening-out of their bite so the teeth and jaws come together in a way that prevents or diminishes pain or other problems. 

OCCLUSAL GUARDS 

Occlusal guards are removable devices or mouth pieces used in patients that grind their teeth during sleep. 

OCCLUSION 

Occlusion is the term for contact between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed.

ONLAY 

An onlay is a filling that incorporates a replacement for the cusp of a tooth. (An example of this would be a crown.)

OSSEOUS SURGERY 

When a dental bone is misshaped due to gum disease, an osseous surgery is done to reshape the bone.  

PANORAMIC RADIOGRAPH 

A panoramic radiograph is an x-ray that shows the entire mouth and jaw in a single image. These are often done to show progress of tooth development in children, or to show how wisdom teeth are developing in an individual. 

PARTIAL DENTURE 

When some natural teeth remain in the mouth, a partial denture is created using replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base. This denture includes a metal framework to hold it in place in the mouth. 

PEDICAL GRAFT 

When a tooth has root exposure, a graft is taken from the gum around or near the tooth in order to cover the root. This is called a connective tissue graft. 

PERIAPICAL X-RAYS 

A periapical x-ray is an image taken of an entire tooth and its roots to evaluate root structure, bone level, cysts, and diseases.

PERICORNAL GINGIVA 

A pericornal gingiva is the name of the surgery to remove an inflamed flap of tissue surrounding a partially erupted or impacted tooth.

PERIODONTAL MAINTENANCE 

Periodontal maintenance is the term for a thorough teeth-cleaning procedure. 

PERIODONTAL SPLINTING 

When a tooth is loose or unstable, a dentist may perform a periodontal splinting. This is the joining of two or more teeth to secure the unstable tooth.

PIN RETENTION OF FILLINGS 

If a filling needs held in place, tiny threaded screws are placed into the tooth, followed by the filling. This is called pin retention.  

PLAQUE CONTROL 

Plaque control is the regular removal of plaque to prevent accumulation on the teeth.

PRECISION ATTACHMENTS 

If a patient has a partial denture and a bridge, a precision attachment is a device used to connect the partial denture to bridge work.

PROPHYLAXIS 

Prophylaxis is the process of cleaning, scaling, and polishing the teeth.

PULPOTOMY 

If part of the tooth pulp is diseased, a pulpotomy will be done to remove the diseased portion in order to increase the likelihood of the remaining pulp to survive. 

REBASE DENTURE 

A denture rebase is the process of replacing the entire plastic portion of dentures. 

RELINE DENTURE 

A denture reline is the process of replacing a section of the plastic portion of dentures.

RETROGRADE FILLINGS 

A retrograde filling is one used specifically to seal a root canal.

ROOT CANAL 

A root canal is a procedure done to replace the infected pulp in the root of a tooth.

ROOT SCALING AND PLANNING 

Also known as conventional periodontal therapy, root scaling is a deep cleaning, non-surgical periodontal therapy that removes or eliminates plaque, its products, and calculus.

SEALANT 

Dental sealant is a thin plastic coating applied to “chewing surfaces” on the back of the teeth to protect from tooth decay.

SOFT DENTURE RELINE 

For patients whose gums are too tender for hard denture reline (using acrylic), a softer more flexible material is used. This material is placed in an impression mold to re-form to the contours of the patient’s mouth.

SOFT TISSUE GRAFT 

A soft tissue graft is the name of the process when a graft is taken from part of the mouth to cover a root exposed due to gum recession. This may also be called a free gingival graft, a connective tissue graft, or a pedicle graft.

SPACE MAINTAINERS 

A space maintainer is a device custom-fit to a patient using acrylic or metal materials. It is used to preserve the space between specific teeth or to prevent premature loss of a primary tooth.

TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DISORDER 

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (or TMJ), is pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. 

VERTICAL DIMENSION 

A patient’s vertical dimension is a measurement of the length of their face.

VERTICAL DIMENSION OF OCCLUSION 

A patient’s vertical dimension of occlusion is a measurement of the space between the upper and lower jaw when the mouth is closed.

VITAL TEETH 

A vital or “living” tooth is one with normal, healthy blood flow.

 


VBA dental plans are administered and underwritten by TruAssure Insurance Company. TruAssure dental plans are offered in association with DenteMax dental networks.