Glossary

Abrasion

Wear on the teeth caused by actions other than eating e.g. hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique, holding objects between teeth or Bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth).

Abscess

An infection of a tooth, soft tissue or bone.

Abutment

Tooth or implant that supports a fixed or removable bridge.

Acrylic Resin

A resin used as a denture base material, for other dental restorations, and for trays.

Alveolar Bone

The jaw bone that anchors the roots of teeth.

Amalgam

An alloy used in dental restorations; a common filling material.

Analgesia

Loss of the feeling of pain without loss of consciousness.

Anesthesia

Partial or complete elimination of pain sensation; local anesthesia numbs a particular area like a tooth without causing loss of consciousness; general anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness used in some dental procedures.

Apex

The tip of the root of a tooth.

Apicoectomy

Removal of the tip of a tooth root.

Arch

Describes the alignment of the upper or lower teeth.

Bleaching

A cosmetic procedure that uses a bleaching solution to whiten teeth.

Bonding

A composite resin applied to a tooth to change the colour or shape; can also refer to the method used to adhere fillings and dental appliances or restorations to teeth.

Bone Reabsorption

Decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth; a common result of periodontal (gum disease).

Braces

Devices used in orthodontics to gradually reposition teeth to a more favorable alignment.

Bridge

A fixed or removable dental appliance used to replace missing teeth.

Bruxism

Constant grinding or clenching of the teeth that frequently occurs while sleeping.

Calculus

Also known as tartar, the hard deposit of minerals that stick to teeth.

Cavities

Tooth decay or cavities.

Cementum

Hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.

Composite

A dental restorative material made up of different parts (e.g. resin and quartz particles).

Crown

The part of a tooth that is covered with enamel; an artificial substitute for that part of the tooth.

Decay

Decomposition of tooth structure; also known as cavities.

Dental Implant

A cylinder surgically placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw to provide support for a dental restoration or appliance; usually made of titanium.

Dentin

The part of the tooth below the enamel.

Denture

Removable (partial or complete) artificial substitute for natural teeth and adjacent gum tissue.

Enamel

Durable, hard, white outer layer of the tooth that covers and protects the dentin, the layer just beneath it.

Endodontist

Specialist who treats injuries, diseases and infections of the tooth pulp (nerves).

Erosion

Wearing down of teeth caused by chemicals (acids).

Extraction

Removal of a tooth or parts of a tooth.

Facing

Tooth colored overlay on the visible portion of a crown; may be acrylic, composite or porcelain.

Filling

Restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain or resin materials.

Full Mouth Reconstruction

Extensive restorations of natural teeth with crowns or fixed bridges to manage bite problems.

Full-Mouth X-Rays

A combination of x-rays that show all of the teeth (their crowns and roots) and the jaw bone that surrounds them.

Gingiva

Gum tissue.

Gingivectomy

Surgical removal of gum tissue.

Gingivitis

Inflammation of gum tissue.

Gingivoplasty

Surgical procedure to reshape gingiva.

Halitosis

Bad breath of oral or gastrointestinal origin.

Impacted Tooth

Partial or completely unexposed tooth that is wedged against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue, in such a manner that tooth eruption is unlikely.

Impression

Mold made of the teeth and soft tissues.

Inlay

Porcelain or resin filling bonded in place to restore a decayed or broken tooth.

Intraoral Camera

A small video camera used to view and magnify oral conditions.

Laminate

Thin plastic or porcelain veneer produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to a tooth.

Laminate Veneer

A very thin porcelain resin shell bonded to the enamel of the front teeth.

Laughing Gas

Nitrous oxide; odorless gas that reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation.

Night Guard

Acrylic appliance used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep.

Nitrous Oxide

A gas used to reduce patient anxiety.

Onlay

A porcelain or resin filling that protects a tooth by covering only the chewing surface; a laboratory produced restoration covering one or more cusps of a tooth.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

A dental specialist who manages the diagnosis & surgical treatment of diseases, injuries, and deformities of the mouth and supporting structures.

Oral Hygiene

Process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth, gums and mouth.

Orthodontist

Dental specialist who treats misalignment of teeth.

Periodontal Disease

Inflammation of the gingival (gums) that can lead to infection and, in severe cases, deterioration of the jaw bone and loss of a tooth.

Plaque

Soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth; composed mostly of bacteria.

Porcelain

A durable, ceramic, tooth-colored material that is used in veneers and crowns.

Post

Thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy; provides retention for a "coping" that replaces lost tooth structure and retains crown.

Restoration

Replacement of portion of a damaged tooth.

Root

Tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw.

Root Canal (Therapy)

Procedure that must be performed when the pulp within a tooth dies or becomes infected; removes the pulp of a tooth and fills the root canal.

Root Planing

Removal of bacteria, calculus and damaged dentin or cementum on the root surfaces.

Scaling

Removal of plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces.

Sealants

Plastic resin bonded in the pits and fissures of back teeth for the prevention of decay.

Tartar

See calculus.

TMD (or TMJ disorder)

Temporomandibular disorder; term given to condition characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw.

TMJ

The temporomandibular joint, the point where the lower jaw attaches to the skull.

Tooth Whitening

A chemical or laser process to lighten the color of teeth.

Veneer

Plastic or porcelain facing bonded directly to a tooth to improve its appearance; typically used for repairing chipped, cracked, or worn teeth.

Wisdom Teeth

Third (last) molars that usually erupt at age 18-25 (when "wisdom is attained").

X-Rays

X-rays are used to reveal problems that cannot be observed with the naked eye.