Common Dental Terminology


(Tip: Use Control+F on PC or Command+F on a Mac to search for a certain term.)

Abutment: A tooth or implant used to support a prosthesis.


Acid Etching: Use of a chemical substance to prepare the enamel surface to provide retention for bonding.


Alloplastic: Refers to synthetic materials often used for tissue augmentation.


Alveolar: Referring to the bone to which a tooth is attached.


Alveoloplasty: Surgical procedure for recontouring alveolar structures, usually in preparation for a prosthesis.


Amalgam: An alloy used in dental restorations; always includes mercury.


Anterior: Refers to the teeth in the forward part of the mouth--incisors and canines.


Apicoectomy: Amputation of the root end of a tooth.


Apex: The tip or end of the root of the tooth.


Avulsion: Separation of tooth from its socket due to trauma (evulsion).


Benign: Not malignant.


Biopsy: Process of removing tissue for determination of existence of pathology.


Bitewing Radiograph: Interproximal view radiograph of the coronal portion of the tooth.


Bridge: Fixed bridge is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth usually cemented to the abutment teeth adjacent to the space; removable bridge (partial denture) is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth on a framework that can be removed by the patient.


Bruxism: Involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth.


Buccal: Pertaining to or around the cheek.


Calculus: Hard deposit of mineralized plaque which is attached to crowns and/or roots of teeth.


Canal: A relatively narrow tabular passage or channel; space inside the root portion of a tooth containing pulp tissue; the passage which transmits vessels and nerves through the jaw which branches are distributed to the teeth.


Caries: Correct technical term for decay.


Cast: See diagnostic cast or study model.


Cavity: Lesion or hole in tooth caused by caries.


Cephalometric Radiograph: A radiographic head film used to study the growth of the skull and head.


Cement Base: Material used under a filling to replace tooth structure lost by the decay process.


Cementum: Hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.


Chemical Curettage: Use of a caustic agent to facilitate subgingival and root curettage - see curettage.


Closed Reduction: Closing the space between the fractured bone without cutting through soft tissue or surrounding bone.


Compound Fracture: Break in bone so that the broken parts protrude through the soft tissue.


Coping: A thin covering of the coronal portion of the tooth usually without anatomic conformity. It can be used as a definitive restoration or as part of a transfer procedure.


Crown: Part of the tooth that is covered with enamel and normally projects beyond the gingival margin; artificial replacement is called by same name.


Crown Lengthening: A surgical procedure exposing more tooth for restorative purposes by apically positioning the gingival margin and.or removing supporting bone.


Curettage: Scraping or cleaning the walls of a cavity or gingival pocket.


Cusp: Pointed or rounded eminence on or near the masticating surface of a tooth.


Debridement: Removal of foreign matter.


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


Deciduous: To fall off or shed; a name used for the primary teeth.


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


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


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


Denture Base: That part of a denture that makes contact with soft tissue and retains the artificial teeth.


Diagnostic Cast: Plaster or stone model of teeth and adjoining tissues; also referred to as study model.


Direct Pulp Cap: Procedure in which the exposed pulp is covered with a dressing or cement that protects the pulp and promotes healing and repair.


Displaced Tooth: A partial evulsion of a tooth-may be mesial, distal, facial, lingual or incisal.


Distal: Toward the back of the dental arch (or away from the midline).


Dry Socket: Localized inflammation of the tooth socket following extraction due to infection or loss of blood clot.


Edentulous: Without teeth.


Enamel: Hard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of tooth.


Equilibration: Reshaping of the occlusal surfaces of teeth to create harmonious contact relationships between the upper and lower teeth; also known as occlusal adjustment.


Evulsion: Complete separation of the tooth from its socket due to trauma (avulsion).


Excision: Surgical removal of bone or tissue.


Exostosis: Overgrowth of normal bone (see torus).


Extracoronal: Outside the crown of a tooth.


Exudate: Material such as fluid, cells, or other debris deposited in or on tissues, usually as a result of inflammation or necrosis.


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


Foramen: Natural opening into or through bone.


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


Frenum: Muscle fibers covered by a mucous membrane that attaches the cheek, lips and or tongue to associated dental mucosa.


Furcation: The anatomic area of a multirooted tooth where the roots diverge.


Gingiva: Soft tissues overlaying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted, serving as the supporting structure for sub-adjacent tissues.


Gingivitis: Inflammation of gingival tissue.


Gingivectomy: The excision or removal of gingiva.


Gingivoplasty: Surgical procedure to reshape gingivae to create a normal, functional form.


Graft: A piece of tissue or allopathic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency.


Hemisection: Surgical separation of a multirooted tooth so that one root and the overlaying portion of the crown can be surgically removed.


Immediate Denture: Prosthesis constructed for placement immediately after removal of remaining natural teeth.


Impacted Tooth: An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.


Implant: Material inserted or grafted into tissue.


Implantation, Tooth: Placement of an artificial or natural tooth into a socket.


Indirect Pulp Cap: Procedure in which the nearly exposed pulp is covered with a protective dressing to protect the pulp from additional injury and to promote healing and repair via formation of secondary dentin.


Intentional Reimplanation: The intentional removal, radicular repair and replacement of a tooth into its own socket.


Interproximal: Between the adjoining surfaces of adjacent teeth.


Intracoronal: Referring to "within" the crown of a tooth.


Intraoral: Inside the mouth.


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


Labial: Pertaining to or around the lip.


Lesion: An injury or wound; area of diseased tissue.


Lingual: Pertaining to or around the tongue.


Malar: Pertaining to the cheek bone.


Malignant: Having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and mestastasis.


Malocclusion: Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.


Mandible: Lower jaw.


Mesial: Toward the midline of the dental arch.


Moulage: A cast of the face which may be wax or plaster.


Mucous Membrane: Lining to the oral cavity as well as other canals and cavities of the body; also called "mucosa."


Obturator: A disc or plate which closes an opening; a prosthesis that closes an opening in the palate.


Occlusal Radiograph: An intraoral radiograph made with the film being held between the occluded teeth.


Occlusion: Any contact between biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.


Onlay: A restoration that replaces a cusp or cusps of the tooth.


Open Reduction: Providing access to a fracture for purposes of anatomic approximation by cutting tissue or surrounding bone.


Operculectomy: Removal of the operculum.


Operculum: The flap of tissue over an unerupted or partially erupted tooth.


Oral: Pertaining to the mouth.


Orthognathic: Functional relationship of jaws.


Osteoplasty: Surgical procedure that modifies the configuration of bone.


Osteotomy: Surgical cutting or transsection of bone.


Overdenture: Prosthetic device that is supported by retained roots or implants.


Palate: The hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separate the oral and nasal cavities.


Palliative: Action that relieves pain but is not curative.


Panoramic Radiograph: An extraoral radiograph on which the maxilla and mandible are depicted on a single film.


Partial Denture: Usually refers to the prosthetic device that replaces the missing teeth on a framework that can be removed by the patient.


Periapical: The area surrounding the end of the tooth root.


Periapical Radiograph: A radiograph made by the intraoral placement of film for disclosing the apices of the teeth.


Pericoronal: Around the crown of a tooth.


Periodontal: Pertaining to or around the root of a tooth.


Periodontitis: Inflammation of the supporting or surrounding structure of teeth.


Periradicular: Surrounding the entire root of the tooth.


Plaque: A soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of derivatives from the saliva bacterial products.


Pontic: The term used for the artificial tooth on a bridge.


Primary Dentition: The first set of teeth; also known as deciduous.


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


Prosthesis: Artificial replacement of any part of the body; definitive prosthesis - a prosthesis to be used over an extended period of time; interim prosthesis - a provisional prosthesis designed for use over a limited period of time, after which it is to be replaced by a more difinitive restoration.


Pulp: The blood vessels and nerve tissue that occupies the pulp cavity of a tooth.


Pulp Cavity: The space within a tooth which contains the pulp.


Pulpectomy: Complete removal of diseased pulp tissue from the root canal space.


Pulpotomy: The removal of the coronal portion of the pulp.


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; usually includes five or more teeth.


Radiograph: X-ray.


Rebase: Process of refitting a denture by replacing the base material.


Reline: Process of resurfacing the tissue side of a denture with a new base material.


Replantation, Tooth: The return of a tooth to its socket.


Retainer: Orthodontic retainer - appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment; prosthodontic retainer - a part of a fixed bridge that attaches a pontic to the abutment tooth.


Retrograde Filling: A method of sealing the root canal by preparing and filling it from the root apex.


Root: The anatomic portion of the tooth that is covered by cementum and is normally suspended in the alveolus (socket).


Root Canal: The portion of the pulp cavity inside the root of a tooth.


Root Canal Therapy: Treatment of the pulp cavity to eliminate perapical disease and to promote healing and repair of periapical tissues.


Root Planing: A procedure designed to remove microbial flora, bacterial toxins on the root surface or in the pocket, calculus, and diseased cementum or dentin.


Scaling: Removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth.


Sialiography: Inspection of the salivary ducts and glands by radiograph after the injection of a radiopaque medium.


Splint: A device used to support, protect, or immobilize oral structures that have been loosened, replanted, fractured or traumatized. Also refers to devices used in the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders.


Stomatitis: Of the membranes of the mouth.


Study Model: Plaster or stone model of teeth and adjoining tissues; also referred to as diagnostic cast.


Suture: Stitch used to repair incision or wound.


Temporary Removable Partial Denture: An interim prosthesis designed for use over limited period of time.


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ): The connecting hinge mechanism between the mandible (lower jaw) and base of the skull (temporal bone).


Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction: Problems with the jaw joint.


Torus: A bony elevation or protuberance of normal bone.


Transplantation, Tooth: Transfer of a tooth from one socket to another, either in the same or a different person.


Unerupted: Teeth that have not penetrated into the oral cavity.


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


Zygomatic Bone: Quadrangular bone on either side of face that forms the cheek prominence (see malar).




NADENT is headquarted in Colorado, but we offer service in all 50 states as well as Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. (More...)


While on our website be sure and visit the Scenario Gallery page for helpful information to see examples as to why you should submit claims to NADENT for review.

© 2020 NADENT  |  Website Designed by Ninth Street Design