Dental Glossary


Dental Dictionary


Find common dental terms and their meanings here


  • Amalgam

    Material made from mercury and other alloy mixtures used to restore a drilled portion of a tooth.

  • Anesthesia

    Medications used to relieve pain

  • Anterior teeth

    Front teeth. Also known as incisors and cuspids

  • Arch

    The upper or lower jaw


  • Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

    Caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth

  • Bicuspids

    A premolar tooth; tooth with two cusps, which are pointed or rounded eminences on or near the masticating surface of a tooth

  • Bitewings

    X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities

  • Bonding

    Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth

  • Bridge

    A prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth cemented or otherwise attached to the abutment teeth or implant replacements

  • Bruxism

    Medical term for grinding of teeth


  • Calculus

    A hard deposit of mineralized substance adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices

  • Canal

    The narrow chamber inside the tooth's root

  • Canines

    Also called cuspids

  • Canker Sore

    One that occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. A canker sore is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border

  • Caries

    A commonly used term for tooth decay, or cavities

  • Cold Sore

    Usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by the herpes simplex virus, and it is usually painful and filled with fluid

  • Composite Filling

    Tooth colored restorations, also known as resin fillings

  • Composite Resin

    A tooth colored resin combined with silica or porcelain and used as a restoration material

  • Contouring

    The process of reshaping teeth

  • Crown

    An artificial tooth replacement that restores missing tooth structure by surrounding the remaining coronal tooth structure. It is also placed on a dental implant

  • Cuspus

    The pointed parts on top of the back teeth's chewing surface

  • Cuspids

    Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge


  • Dentin

    The tooth layer underneath the enamel

  • Denture

    A removable set of teeth


  • Endodontics

    A form of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth's root or nerve.


  • Fluoride

    A mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks

  • Fluorosis

    A harmless over-exposure to fluoride and resulting sometimes in tooth discoloration


  • Gingiva

    Another word for gum tissue

  • Gingivitis

    A minor disease of the gums caused by plaque

  • Gum Disease

    An infection of the gum tissues. Also called periodontal disease


  • Impacted Teeth

    A condition in which a tooth fails to erupt or only partially erupts

  • Implant

    A permanent appliance used to replace a missing tooth

  • Incisor

    Front teeth with cutting edges; located in the center or on the sides near the front

  • Inlay

    An artificial filling made of various materials, including porcelain, resin, or gold


  • Laminate veneer

    A shell that is bonded to the enamel of a front tooth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin


  • Malocclusion

    Bad bite relationship

  • Mandible

    The lower jaw

  • Maxilla

    The upper jaw

  • Molar

    Usually the largest teeth, near the rear of the mouth. Molars have large chewing surfaces


  • Neuromuscular Dentistry

    Addresses more than the aches and pains felt in and around the neck and head that are associated with your teeth and jaw


  • Onlay

    A filling designed to protect the chewing surface of a tooth

  • Orthodontics

    A field of dentistry that deals with tooth and jaw alignment

  • Overdenture

    A non-fixed dental appliance applied to a small number of natural teeth or implants


  • Palate

    Roof of the mouth

  • Partial Denture

    A removable appliance that replaces missing teeth

  • Pediatric Dentistry

    A field of dentistry that deals with children’s teeth

  • Perio Pocket

    An opening formed by receding gums

  • Periodontal Disease

    Infection of the gum tissues. Also called gum disease

  • Periodontist

    A dentist who treats diseases of the gums

  • Permanent Teeth

    The teeth that erupt after primary teeth. Also called adult teeth

  • Plaque

    A sticky, colorless substance that covers the teeth after sleep or periods between brushing

  • Posterior Teeth

    The bicuspids and molars. Also called the back teeth

  • Primary Teeth

    A person's first set of teeth. Also called baby teeth or temporary teeth

  • Prophylaxis

    The act of cleaning the teeth

  • Prosthodontics

    The field of dentistry that deals with artificial dental appliances

  • Pulp

    The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood, nerves and connective tissue


  • Receding gum

    A condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth's enamel and surrounding bone

  • Resin Filling

    An artificial filling used to restore teeth. Also called a composite filling

  • Root Canal

    A procedure in which a tooth's nerve is removed and an inner canal cleansed and later filled

  • Root Planing

    Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line


  • Sealant

    A synthetic material placed on the tooth's surface that protects the enamel and chewing surfaces


  • TMJ

    Temporomandibular joint disorder. Health problems related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear

  • Tarter

    A hardened substance (also called calculus) that sticks to the tooth’s surface


  • Veneer

    A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth


  • Whitening

    A process that employs special bleaching agents for restoring the color of teeth to a white shine

  • Wisdom Teeth

    Third set of molars that erupt last in adolescence and often need to be removed

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