Dental Dictionary


Abscess: A collection of pus. Usually forms because of infection.
Abutment: A tooth or tooth structure which 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 which 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 yellow base and red border in 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 lip. A form of herpes simplex.
Composite: White filling.
Cross-bite: An abnormal bite relationship of upper and lower jaw. The lower teeth/tooth align toward the check/ lip side more than the upper teeth/tooth.
Crown (porcelain/plastic/metal): 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 number of teeth in 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 denture 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 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 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.
Inlay: A restoration (usually gold, composite or ceramics) fabricated in the lab that cements on a tooth like a missing puzzle piece. It helps to restore the normal function and outlook of the tooth.
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 sport 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.
Onlay: A restoration covers the entire biting surface of a tooth.
Open bite: The situation where the upper teeth not able to contact the opposing lower teeth.
Orthodontics: A special field in dentistry which 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 the wide view of 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, the amount and direction of the use of a medication for a patient. In dentistry, a prescription can also be a written statement for 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 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 planing: 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.

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.