Dental Dictionary


Abscess - A collection of pus. Usually forms because of infection.

Abutment - A tooth or tooth structure that is responsible for the anchorage of a bridge or a denture.

Amalgam - A silver filling material.

Anesthetic - An agent that causes temporary loss of sensation/feeling.

Anterior - The front position.

Apex - The end of the root.

Asepsis - No micro-organism.

Attrition - Wear of teeth due to activities such as chewing.

Avulsed - An injury that causes a tooth to be completely knocked out of the mouth.


Bitewing - A kind of dental x-ray which is taken with the teeth bite together. The main function of this kind of x-ray is to detect cavities in between teeth and height of bone support.

Bleaching - Whitening of teeth.

Bridge - A prosthesis that is fixed inside the mouth to replace missing teeth.

Bruxism - Teeth grinding.


Canine - The third tooth from the middle of the jaw. There are four of them. They are the longest teeth in humans.

Canker Sore - An ulceration with a yellow base and red border in the mouth. It can be caused by trauma or herpes simplex virus.

Caries - Tooth decay.

Cavity - A hole on the tooth.

Cast - A model of teeth.

Cementation - The process of “gluing” the appliance/prosthesis on the associated area.

Chlorhexidine - An anti-microbial agent. It is available in many forms such as gels and rinses. It is an effective agent in controlling gum diseases.

Clasp - A metal arm extended from a removable partial denture. It helps to hold onto natural tooth structure and thus provide anchorage for the denture.

Cold Sore - An ulcer or blister on the lip. A form of herpes simplex.

Composite - White filling.

Cross-bite - An abnormal bite relationship between the upper and lower jaw. The lower teeth/tooth align toward the check/ lip side more than the upper teeth/tooth.

Crown (porcelain/metal/gold) - A crown is almost like a “cap” on a tooth. It covers the tooth partially or totally above the gum to restore its function and outlook.


Decay -The rotten part of the tooth.

Dentistry - A branch of medicine that involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of any disease concerning teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures.

Dentition - The position, type, and a number of teeth in the upper and lower jaw.

Denture (immediate/complete/partial) (overdenture, temporary) - An artificial object to replace missing teeth and their neighboring structures. There are many different types of dentures to satisfy different treatment requirements and patient preferences.

Denturist - The person who specializes in fabricating dentures. A Denturist is not responsible for making any type of diagnosis or carrying out any other treatment (e.g. removing teeth).

Desensitization - A procedure to reduce the sensitivity of teeth.

Diagnosis - The process of identifying dental disease.

Diastema - The space between two adjacent teeth.

Distal - A direction indication in the mouth. It indicates the direction away from the middle of the jaw.


Edentulous - No teeth.

Endodontics - A department of dentistry involving diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the dental pulp (where the nerves and blood vessels are inside the tooth).

Eruption - The process of the tooth appearing in the mouth.

Excision - The action of cutting something off.

Extruded - When a tooth may be pushed partially out of the socket.


Filling - A restoration placed on a tooth to restore its function and appearance.

Flipper - A temporary denture to replace missing teeth during the waiting period for long term treatment.

Floss - A thread/tape that goes in between teeth for cleaning.

Fluoride - A compound of fluorine (an element) which be put in different forms such as water, gels, and rinses to strengthen teeth.

Fluoride Treatment - Teeth treatment with fluoride agents like gel or rinse. It helps to prevent tooth decay.

Fracture - When a cusp of a tooth becomes weakened, a fracture may result. It is possible for the crack to extend further into the root and damage to the pulp is commonplace.

Framework - A metal skeleton of a removable partial denture to support the false teeth and the plastic attachments.


Gingivitis - The mildest form of gum disease: inflammation of the gum. The earliest sign is bleeding gum.


Hemorrhage - Bleeding

Homeostasis - Stop bleeding.


Impaction - A condition where a tooth is not able to come in normally or is stuck underneath another tooth or bone.

Implant - A device (usually “screw-like”) put in the jaw bone to support a false tooth, a denture or a bridge.

Impression - A mold taken by some jelly-like material loaded on a tray.

Incisal - The cutting edge of front teeth.

Incisor - The four upper and lower front teeth.

Interproximal - The space between two adjacent teeth.




Lingual - The side of the tooth towards the tongue.


Mesial - The side of the tooth towards the middle of the jaw.

Molar - The last three upper and lower teeth on both sides of the mouth.

Mouthguard - A device to be worn in the mouth. Depending on the design of it, it prevents injury to teeth and/or jaw during teeth grinding or sports events.


Nightguard - A mouthguard which is worn at night time.


Occlusal - The biting surface of the back teeth.

Occlusion - The way how the upper and lower teeth close together.

Open Bite - The situation where the upper teeth not able to contact the opposing lower teeth.

Orthodontics - A special field in dentistry that involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of bite abnormalities or facial irregularities.

Over-Bite - The overlap of upper teeth and lower teeth when they close together.

Overhang - The portion of filling material that hangs beyond the border of the cavity.


Palate - The roof of the mouth.

Panoramic Radiograph - An x-ray film used to obtain a wide view of the upper and lower jaw and their associated structures.

Perforation - An opening on a tooth or other oral structure.

Periapical -The surrounding of the bottom of the root of a tooth.

Periodontics - A specialty of dentistry involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of gum (periodontal) disease.

Permanent Teeth - Adult’s teeth. The first permanent tooth usually comes in around 6 years old.

Pin - A piece of “nail-like” metal. It usually is used for better retention of a filling.

Polish - A process to make the tooth or filling or other denture smooth and glossy.

Pontic - The false tooth in a bridge or denture to replace the missing tooth.

Post - A big pin which can be made with different materials such as metal or carbon. Its function usually is to support a big buildup on a tooth.

Posterior - Located at the back.

Pre-Authorization - An approval from the particular authority (usually insurance company in dentistry) before any action (treatment) is carried out.

Pre-Medication - Medication needing to be taken before treatment.

Premolar - The two teeth located in front of the molar.

Prescription - A written statement (from a doctor to a pharmacist) regarding the type, amount, and direction of the use of a medication for a patient. In dentistry, a prescription can also be a written statement for the preparation of an appliance from a dentist to a lab technician.

Primary Teeth - Baby teeth.

Prophylaxis/Prophy - The procedure of teeth polishing. It also means the prevention of diseases.

Prosthesis - An artificial part to replace missing teeth and their associated structures.

Prosthodontics - A specialty of dentistry involving diagnosis, treatment planning, and fabrication of artificial parts to replace missing teeth and their associated structures.

Pulp - The innermost part of a tooth. It contains nerves and blood vessels inside a tooth.

Pulpectomy - The removal of the whole pulp inside a tooth.

Pulpotomy - The removal of the top part of the pulp inside a tooth.



Radiograph - An x-ray picture.

Recall - The regular checkup and teeth cleaning appointment.

Recementation - The process of “gluing” the appliance/prosthesis back on the associated area.

Restoration - An item a dentist uses to restore the normal function of a tooth or an area in the mouth. It can be a filling, a crown, a bridge, etc.

Retainer - A device used for maintaining the position of teeth in the jaw in orthodontic treatment.

Retreatment - The process of repeating the root canal treatment.

Root - The bottom part of a tooth. It anchors the tooth to its supporting units.

Root Canal - The canal that runs inside the root of the tooth. It contains the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth.

Root Canal Treatment - A treatment for the root canal inside the tooth.

Root Planning - The action of cleaning the root area of teeth.

Rubber Dam - A rubber sheet that fits around teeth. It isolates the treatment area from the rest of the oral cavity.


Scaling - The action of cleaning teeth below the gumline.

Sealant - A thin layer of plastic-like material covering the grooves and pits on a tooth to prevent cavity.

Sedation - The use of medication to calm a patient.

Space Maintainer - An appliance to maintain the space between teeth.

Splint - An appliance or a material to prevent movement of a mobile part.


Temporary Flipper - An acrylic plate and tooth used as a temporary tooth replacement while the patient waits for a dental bridge or for healing after a dental implant is placed.

Tempromandibular Joint (TMJ) - The joint that links the two parts of the jaw.

Torus - An outgrowth of bone. It usually develops on the roof of the mouth or around the premolar area on the lower jaw.



Veneer - A layer of tooth-colored material (can be porcelain, composite, or ceramics) that attaches to the front of the tooth. It is usually used to improve the appearance of the tooth.


Wisdom tooth - The eighth (also the last) tooth from the middle of the jaw.


Xerostomia - Dry mouth