Glossary of Dental Terms


Dentists use a lot of terms to describe problems and procedures. They would be glad to explain any term you don't know, of course, but here are a few:

Abrasion—tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing, such as improper brushing

Abutment—a tooth or implant that supports an artificial device replacing teeth

Amalgam—an alloy used in dental restorations

Arch—upper or lower jaw

Band—metal ring orthodontists cement to a tooth for strength and to anchor it

Bonding—a composite resin applied to change the shape or color of a tooth

Bruxism—grinding, clenching of teeth during the day or while sleeping

Calculus—a hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns or roots of teeth

Caries—tooth decay

Crown—an artificial crown is a covering that can replace the major part of a tooth

Dentin—the part of the tooth beneath enamel and cementum, which covers the tooth root

Enamel—hard, calcified tissue of the crown of a tooth

Gingivitis—inflammation of gingival tissue, which is soft and encircles the necks of teeth

Impacted tooth—one blocked from surfacing, partly or completely, by another tooth, bone or soft tissue

Implant—a device that is placed surgically in bone as support for a prosthesis

Malocclusion—improper alignment of chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth

Mandible—lower jaw

Maxilla—upper jaw

Palate—the hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth

Plaque—a soft, sticky substance containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth

Pulp—connective tissue inside the tooth containing blood vessels and nerve tissue

Retainer—a device used to stabilize teeth

Root canal—treatment of disease and injury of the pulp

Scaling—removing plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth

Veneer—a tooth covering that may be made of porcelain

Sources: American Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontists