Glossary of Dental Terms


Abrasion : Tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing such as holding objects between the teeth or improper brushing.

Abutment : A tooth (or implant) that supports a dental prosthesis.

Alveolar bone : The part of the jaw that surround the roots of the teeth.

Alveolar process : The curving part of the jaw into which the teeth are rooted.

Alveolus : The socket in the alveolar bone into which the tooth’s root fits.

Amalgam : An alloy used in direct dental restorations.

Analgesia : Loss of pain sensations without loss of consciousness.

Ankylosis : A condition where two hard tissues are fused together. When this happens to a tooth and the alveolar bone, the tooth partially erupts.


Benign: The mild character of an illness or the non-malignant character of a

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

Bilateral: Occurring on, or pertaining to, both right and left sides.

Biopsy: Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.

Bitewing radiographs: X-rays used to reveal the crowns of several upper and lower teeth as they bite down.

Bleaching: A cosmetic dental procedure that whitens the teeth using a bleaching solution.

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.


Calculus: Hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth.

Canal : A relatively narrow tubular passage or channel.

Root Canal : Space inside the root portion of a tooth containing pulp tissue.

Caries : Commonly used term for tooth decay.

Cavity : Decay in tooth caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.

Composite : A dental restorative material made up of disparate or separate parts (e.g. resin and quartz particles).


  • Anatomical Crown: That portion of tooth normally covered by, and including, enamel;
  • Abutment Crown: Artificial crown serving for the retention or support of a dental prosthesis;
  • Artificial Crown: Restoration covering or replacing the major part, or the whole of the clinical crown of a tooth;
  • Clinical Crown: That portion of a tooth not covered by supporting tissues.
  • Crown Lengthening: A surgical procedure exposing more tooth for restorative purposes by apically positioning the gingival margin and/or removing supporting bone.


Decay : The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.

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

Dental Prosthesis : An artificial device that replaces one or more missing teeth.

Dental Specialist : A dentist who has received postgraduate training in one of the recognized dental specialties.

  • DDS
  • DMD

Dentin : That part of the tooth that is beneath enamel and cementum.

Denture : An artificial substitute for natural teeth and adjacent tissues.

Denture Base : The part of the denture that holds the artificial teeth and fits over the gums.

Direct Restoration : A restoration fabricated inside the mouth.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) : Dry mouth is the feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth. Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while — if they are nervous, upset or under stress. But if you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious health problems. It can also be a sign of certain diseases and conditions. The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia. Read Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) : Symptoms, Causes, Tips


Endodontist : A dental specialist who limits his/her practice to treating disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

Erosion : Wearing down of tooth structure, caused by chemicals (acids).

Eruption : When a tooth emerges or pushes through the gums.

Evaluation : Periodic Oral Evaluation: An evaluation performed on a patient of record to determine any changes in the patient’s dental and medical health status since a previous comprehensive or periodic evaluation. This may require interpretation of information acquired through additional diagnostic procedures. Report additional diagnostic procedures separately.

Excision : Surgical removal of bone or tissue.

Extraction : The process or act of removing a tooth or tooth parts.


FADI: Fellow, Academy of Dentistry International

FAGD: Fellow, Academy of General Dentistry

Filling : A lay term used for the restoring of lost tooth structure by using materials such as metal, alloy, plastic or porcelain.

Fixed Appliances : Orthodontic devices, commonly known as braces, that are bonded to the teeth to produce different tooth movements to help reposition teeth for orthodontic therapy.

Fixed Partial Denture : A fixed partial denture is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or attached to the abutment teeth or implant abutments adjacent to the space.

Fracture : The breaking of a part, especially of a bony structure; breaking of a tooth.

Full-Mouth X-Rays : A combination of 14 or more periapical and 4 bitewing films of the back teeth. This series of
x-rays reveals all the teeth (their crowns and roots) and the alveolar bone around them.

Fluoride : A form of the element fluorine that helps prevent tooth decay. Fluoride may be naturally present in drinking water or may be added to it. Fluoride may also be put directly on the teeth, as a gel, toothpaste, or a rinse.


General Anesthesia : A deep level of sedation in which patients lose consciousness, feel no pain, and have no memory of what is taking place around them.

Gingiva : Soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.

Gingival Hyperplasia : An overgrowth of gingival tissues.

Gingivitis : Inflammation of gingival tissue without loss of connective tissue.

Gingivectomy : The excision or removal of gingiva.

Guided tissue regeneration (GTR) : Procedure during flap surgery for periodontal disease in which a membrane is inserted between the alveolar bone and the bone graft to encourage the gum tissues to grow onto the alveolar bone.

Midtown Dental Group

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New York, NY 10018
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New York, NY 10065
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