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Common Dental Terms

We've put together this handy reference guide of terms you might hear when speaking with your dentist.

Please don't hesitate to ask your dental care provider for clarification. We're here to help make your experience as pleasant as possible!

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.

Abutment: A tooth or teeth that supports a fixed or removable bridge.

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

Air Abrasion: Removal of tooth structure by blasting a tooth with air and abrasive, a relatively new technology that may avoid the need for anesthetic.

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

Alveolar Bone: The jaw bone that anchors the roots of teeth.

Amalgam: A most common filling material, also known as silver fillings, containing mercury (approximately 50%), silver, tin, copper and zinc.

Analgesia: A state of pain relief or an agent that lessens pain.

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.

ANUG: An acronym for Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, commonly known as trench mouth or Vincent's disease, which can be aggravated by stress and/or smoking.

Apex: The tip of the root of a tooth.

Apicoectomy: Surgical removal of the root tip to treat a dead tooth.

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

Attrition: Loss of structure due to natural wear.

Base: Cement placed under a dental restoration to insulate the pulp (nerve chamber).

Bicuspid or Pre-molar: Transitional teeth behind the cuspids.

Bifurcation (Trifurcation): Juncture of two (three) roots in posterior teeth.

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.

Black Hairy Tongue: Elongated papillae on the tongue, promoting the growth of microorganisms.

Bleaching: Chemical or laser treatment of natural teeth for whitening effect.

Block Injection: Anesthesia of a nerve trunk that covers a large area of the jaw. A mandibular block injection produces numbness of the lower jaw, teeth and half the tongue.

Bonding: Adhesive dental restoration technique. A tooth-colored composite resin to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth.

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: Bridges resemble natural teeth, and are designed to take the place of areas where there are gaps between teeth. bridge is a stationary dental prosthesis (appliance) fixed to teeth adjacent to a space. It replaces one or more missing teeth, cemented or bonded, to supporting teeth or implants adjacent to the space. 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.

The world of dentistry is growing by leaps and bounds, and soon crowns and bridges will be much more affordable for anyone who would like to have them. While some are covered by some types of insurance (wholly or partly), it depends on the company and the reason for the crown and/or bridge. Those put in place solely for cosmetic purposes may not always be covered, or may only be covered after a specific deductible has been met. Let us help keep your smile flawless.

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

Calcium: Chemical element needed for healthy teeth, bones and nerves.

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

Canine teeth: There are two upper and land two ower canine (cuspid) teeth.

Canker Sore: Mouth sore that appears whitish and often has a red halo. A canker sore usually has a 10-14 day duration.

Cantilever Bridge: Fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth only on one end.

Cap: Common term for dental crown.

Caries: Tooth decay or 'cavities.'

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

Cavitron: Dental tool that uses high frequency ultrasonic waves to clean teeth.

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: Cleaning is a word that has been misused to identify a procedure that is routinely completed on a patient that is free of disease or has a healthy mouth. The appropriate word for this type of “cleaning” is prophylaxis, which is the specific type of cleaning that most insurance companies cover two times per year. There are several different types of “cleanings” that are recommended by the dentist and hygienist depending on the patient's oral health. To determine which type of “cleaning” is prescribed for you, please ask your dental professional.

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.

Cuspid or Canine: The four 'eye teeth.'

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

D.D.S.: Doctor of Dental Surgery, equivalent to D.M.D.

D.M.D.: Doctor of Medical Dentistry, equivalent to D.D.S.

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

Deciduous Teeth: Commonly called 'baby teeth,' the first set of teeth.

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.

Denturism: The production of dentures dispensed directly by laboratory technicians.

Diastema: A space between teeth.

Enamel: Hard tissue covering the portion of tooth above the gum line.

Endodontist: A specialist who treats injuries, diseases and infections of the tooth pulp (nerve chamber).

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

Eruption: The process of teeth protruding through the gums.

Exfoliate: The process of shedding deciduous (baby) teeth.

Exodontia: The practice of dental extractions.

Explorer: A sharp instrument used to detect decay on the surface of teeth.

Extraction: Removal of a tooth.

Facing: Tooth colored overlay on the visible portion of a crown that is made of acrylic, composite or porcelain.

FAGD: Fellowship Academy of General Dentistry.

Filling: Restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain or resin materials. We are proud that we use only the latest technologies for fillings. Your smile will remain unflawed if you should need a filling. Let us take care of your cavities with our expert filling processes.

Fistula: The channel that emanates pus from an infection site, which is a gum boil.

Flap Surgery: The lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures.

Forceps: An instrument used for removal of teeth.

Forensic Dentistry: The practice of gathering legal evidence for body identification or judicial issues.

Fossa: The valley found on the surface of posterior teeth.

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.

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.

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

Gingiva: Gum tissue.

Gingivectomy: The surgical removal of gum tissue.

Gingivitis: The inflammation of gum tissue.

GTR: Guided tissue regeneration - a new technique for replacing bone tissue.

Gum Boil: See fistula.

Gum Recession: The exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums as a result of abrasion, periodontal disease or surgery.

Halitosis: Bad breath of oral or gastrointestinal origin.

Heimlich Maneuver: A techinque employed by a rescuer due to the obstruction of victim's airway.

Hematoma: The swelling of effused blood beneath tissue surface.

HMO or DMO: Health or Dental Maintenance Organization, which specifies a health or dental care provider that a patient may see.

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

Hygienist: A dental professional who specializes in education and prevention of oral disease. A hygienist partners with the dentist to assess the oral environment for signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, and is educated to provide therapeutic care in the treatment of bacterial infections within the oral environment. In some states, a dental hygienist may establish a dental hygiene diagnosis and treatment plan, administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia, and restore teeth with fillings.

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

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

Implant: An artificial device that replaces the tooth root and may anchor an artificial tooth, bridge or denture.

Impression: A mold made of the teeth and soft tissues.

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

Incisors: The four upper and lower front teeth, excluding the cuspids (canine teeth).

Infiltration: A local anesthetic procedure effective for upper teeth and soft tissue or the placement of anesthetic under the gum, allowing it to seep into bone.

Inlay: An indirect filling made by a dental laboratory that is cemented or bonded into place; or a direct placement of dental composite resin restoration at chairside.

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.

Jacket: The crown for a front tooth, usually made of porcelain.

Jaw: A common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.

JO: Designation of the ANSI/ADA/ISO tooth numbering system on the dental claim form. See Specification No. 3950.

JP: Designation of the Universal/National tooth numbering system on the dental claim form.

Keratin: A protein present in all cuticular structures of the body, such as hair, epidermis and horns.

Keratinized Gingiva: The oral surface of the gingiva extending from the mucogingival junction to the gingival margin. In gingival health, the coronal portion of the sulcular epithelium may also be keratinized.

LAA: Local Antimicrobial Agents are mediations placed in gum pockets to reduce infection and inflammation.

Laminate: A thin plastic or porcelain veneer produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to a tooth.

Laughing Gas: Nitrous oxide, an odorless inhalation agent that produces relative analgesic (sedation), and reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation.

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

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

Malocclusion: A 'bad bite' or misalignment of the upper and lower teeth.

Managed Care: A program whereby patient-dentist assignment and dentist reimbursement is administered by a separate, external organization.

Mandible: The lower jaw.

Margin: The interface between a restoration and tooth structure.

Maryland Bridge: A bridge that is bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth and requires minimum tooth reduction.

Mastication: The process of chewing food.

Maxilla: The upper jaw.

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

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

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

Night Guard: An acrylic appliance used to prevent wear and damage to the temporomandibular joint caused by the grinding or gnashing of teeth during sleep.

Nitrous Oxide: A gas used to reduce patient anxiety.

Novocain: The older brand name for a local anesthetic, currently replaced by safer, more effective agents.

NSAID: A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, often used as a dental analgesic.

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

Onlay: A laboratory-produced restoration covering one or more cusps of a tooth.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: A dental specialist who manages the diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases, injuries and deformities of the mouth and supporting structures. Requires four additional years of training after dental school.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Surgical procedures on the mouth including extractions, removal of cysts or tumors, and repair of fractured jaws. Unfortunately, not all teeth can be saved. If you are in need of an extraction, we will explain the full procedure and make sure it is as comfortable as possible. We can help with all your oral surgery needs.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist: A dental specialist whose practice is concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: Oral and maxillofacial radiology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of radiology concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Oral Diagnosis: The determination by a dentist of the oral health condition of an individual patient achieved through the evaluation of data gathered by means of history taking, direct examination, patient conference, and such clinical aids and tests as may be necessary in the judgment of the dentist.

Oral Cavity: The mouth.

Oral Hygiene: The process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures.

Oral Pathologist: A dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases.

Orthodontics: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the interception and treatment of malocclusion and other neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the teeth and their surrounding structures.Overbite: A vertical overlap of the front teeth.

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

Overjet: A horizontal overlap of the front teeth.

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

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

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

Partial Denture: A removable dental prosthesis (appliance) that replaces one or more natural teeth.

Pathology: The study of disease.

Pediatric Dentist: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to treatment of children from birth through adolescence, providing primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care; formerly known as a pedodontist.

Pediatric Dentistry: Pediatric Dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs.

 

Periapical (PA): The region at the end of the roots of teeth.

Periodontal Chart: A record measuring the depth of gum pockets around the teeth.

Periodontal Surgery: The recontouring or aesthetic management of diseased gum and supporting tissue.

Periodontist: A dental specialist who treats the gums and supporting soft and hard tissues in order to retain natural teeth and prepare for surgical placement of dental implants. Heredity, diet and other factors can result in gum disease. We will help you get a treatment plan that aggressively attacks any form of periodontal disease that will soon have your mouth back in top health.

Permanent Teeth: Thirty-two adult teeth (approximately) 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 soft, sticky substance that accumulates on teeth and is composed of bacteria and food debris due to inadequate dental hygiene.

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

Porcelain Crown: An all-porcelain restoration that covers the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum line).

Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) Crown: A restoration containing metal coping for strength covered by porcelain for appearance.

Porcelain Inlay or Onlay: A tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain and 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: A thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy. A post provides retention for a 'coping' which replaces lost tooth structure and retains crowns.

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

Post-Crown: A single structure that combines post-core and crown.

PPO or PDO: A preferred provider or dental organization, which a healthcare dental provider may join offering fee for service treatments at reduced fees.

Prognosis: The anticipated outcome of treatment.

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

Prosthesis: An artificial appliance for the replacement for a body part.

Prosthodontist: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth with artificial substitutes.

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

Pulp Cap: A medicated covering over a small area of exposed pulp tissue.

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

Pulpectomy: Complete removal of the pulp (commonly done in children's teeth).

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

Pulpotomy: Partial removal of the pulp tissue.

Pyorrhea: Older term for periodontal (gum) disease.

Quadrant: One of the four equal sections into which the dental arches can be divided; begins at the midline of the arch and extends distally to the last tooth.

Reimplantation: The insertion and temporary fixation of partially or completely avulsed teeth resulting from traumatic injury.

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

Restoration: The replacement of a portion of a damaged tooth.

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.

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

Saliva Ejector: A suction tube placed in the mouth to remove saliva.

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

Scaling and Root Planing (SRP): The meticulous removal of plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces.

Sealants: Thin resin material bonded in the pits and fissures of back teeth for the prevention of decay.

Secondary Dentin: Reparative tooth structure produced by the pulp in response to tooth irritation.

Sinusitis: Infammation of the sinus that may mimic dental pain.

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

Space Maintainer: A dental device that holds the space lost through premature loss of baby teeth.

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

Supernumerary Tooth: An extra tooth.

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

Third-Party Provider: An insurance company, union or government agency that pays all or a part of cost of dental treatment.

TMD (or TMJ Disorder): Temperomandibular disorder, the term given to the condition characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw.

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

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: An ointment that produces mild anesthesia when applied to the tissue surface.

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

Transplant: The process of placing a natural tooth in the empty socket of another tooth.

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

Trench Mouth: Gum disease characterized by severe mouth sores and loss of tissue. See definition for ANUG.

UCR: Usual, Customary and Reasonable fees.

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

Unbundling of Procedures: The separating of a dental procedure into component parts with each part having a charge so that the cumulative charge of the components is greater than the total charge to patients who are not beneficiaries of a dental benefit plan for the same procedure.

Unilateral: One-sided; pertaining to or affecting but one side.

Veneer: A plastic or porcelain facing bonded directly to a tooth to improve its appearance.

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.

Vestibuloplasty: Any of a series of surgical procedures designed to increase relative alveolar ridge height.

Viral Culture: A collection of specimen for the purpose of incubating a virus for identification.

Wisdom Teeth: The third (last) molars that usually erupt between the age of 18-25.

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

Make an appointment with us today!

Book an appointment

479-582-1312

We are conveniently located in Fayetteville, AR across the street from Fiesta Square.

Location

Lucke Dental
615 Appleby Rd.
Fayetteville, AR 72703

Contact Info

luckedental@yahoo.com
P: 479-582-1312

Office Hours

Mon - Thu: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm (limited hours)
Sat - Sun: Closed