Dental Terminology - Dental Glossary


Abutment: The teeth on either side of a missing tooth. Abutments are the part of the bridge used to support the replacement of the missing teeth (pontics).

Amalgam: Silver filling. Amalgams are usually placed on the back teeth (posterior teeth).

Anesthesia: Relieves the sensation of pain.

Anterior Teeth: The front teeth (incisors and cupids).

Arch: The upper or lower jaw.


Back Teeth: See Posterior Teeth

Bicuspid: The first and second bicuspids, those are the fourth and fifth teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the back teeth that are used for chewing, they only have two points (cusps).

Bitewing: X-ray that shows the upper and lower teeth’s biting surfaces on the same film. This x-ray shows the portion of the teeth above the gumline.

Bridge: A fixed appliance (prosthesis) that replaces missing teeth. A bridge is a series of crowns (abutments and pontics).

Bruxism: Clenching or grinding of the teeth.


Calculus: The sticky film on your teeth (plaque) that has hardened. Also known as tartar.

Canal: The narrow chamber inside the root of the tooth that contains the nerve and blood vessels.

Canines: See cuspids.

Caries: Correct technical term for decay.

Cleaning: See prophylaxis.

Complete Series: See Full Mouth X-rays.

Composite Filling: Tooth colored filling. Insurance companies usually only allow them on the front teeth (anterior teeth). When composites are done on the back teeth (posterior teeth) the insurance company usually pays them as an amalgam. Composites are also known as resin fillings.

Crown: Full coverage for a tooth.When the tooth cannot be restored by a filling a crown is usually fabricated.

Curettage: Surgical scraping of bacteria from the soft tissue. This is a periodontal procedure and is usually performed one quadrant at a time. Procedure code 4220.

Cusps: The high points on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (posterior teeth).

Cuspids: The third tooth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the front teeth that have one rounded or pointed edge used for biting. Also known as canines.


Deciduous Teeth: See Primary Teeth.

Denture: A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces all of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

Diagnostics: Procedures performed by the dentist to identify what’s going on in the mouth. The most common procedures you will deal with are the exam and x-rays classifies as preventive.


Edentulous: All the teeth are missing in either the upper or lower arch.

Endo: See Endodontics.

Endodontics (Endo): The treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tip or nerve of the tooth. The most common procedure that you will deal with is a root canal.


Fluorides: Topical application of a gel or liquid that prevents decay.

F.M.X.: See Full Mouth X-rays.

Front Teeth: See Anterior Teeth.

Full Mouth x-rays (F.M.X.): X-rays showing all the teeth. Includes 14 periapicals and 2 or 4 bitewings. Also known as a complete series.


General Anesthesia: Relieves the sensation of pain on the whole body. General anesthesia renders you unconscious.

Gingiva: The gums.


Impaction: An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that will not fully erupt because it is obstructed by another tooth, bone, or soft tissue.

Implant: A post that is implanted in the bone. A crown, bridge or denture is then placed over the implant

Incisors: The central and lateral incisor, those are the first and second teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the front teeth with the flat edges for biting.

Inlay: A laboratory processed restoration made of metal, acrylic or porcelain. This filling does not involve the high points of the tooth (cusps)


Local Anesthesia: Relieves the sensation of pain in a localized area.


Mandible: The lower jaw.

Maxilla: The upper jaw.

Molars: The first, second and third molars, those are the sixth, seventh and eighth teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. The back teeth with the large chewing surface on top. They have 4 points (cusps).


Nightguard: A removable acrylic appliance to minimize the effects of grinding the teeth (bruxism) or joint problems (T.M.J.). Usually worn at night to prevent the grinding of teeth or relieve joint pain. Also known as an occlusal guard.


Occlusal: The chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

Occlusal Guard: See Nightguard.

Onlay: A laboratory processed restoration made of metal, porcelain or acrylic that replaces one or more of the highest points of the tooth (cusps).

Oral Surgery (O.S.): Surgery of the mouth.

Ortho: See Orthodontics.

Orthodontics (Ortho): Straightening of the teeth.

O.S.: See Oral Surgery.


P.A.: Common dental language for a periapical. See Periapical.

Palate: Roof of the mouth.

Panorex: An x-ray taken outside of the mouth that shows all the teeth on one film.

Partial Denture: A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

Pedo: See Pedodontics.

Pedodontics (Pedo): The treatment of children’s teeth.

Periapical: An x-ray that shows the whole tooth (above and below the gumline). Also known as a single film or P.A.

Perio: See Periodontics.

Perio Charting: Measures the depth that the gums have detached from the side of the tooth forming a pocket (perio pocket).

Periodontal Maintenance: Cleaning of the teeth following periodontal treatment, includes perio charting. Procedure code 4910. Also known as a perio prophy or perio recall.

Periodontics (Perio): The treatment of diseases of the gum or bone (supporting structure).

Perio Pocket: The pocket that forms when the gums detach from the side of the tooth.

Perio Prophy: See Periodontal Maintenance.

Perio Recall: See Periodontal Maintenance.

Permanent First And Second Molars: The adult first and second molars, they are the sixth and seventh teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. Does not include the third molar (wisdom tooth).

Permanent Molars: The adult first, second and third molars.

Permanent Dentition: See Permanent Teeth.

Permanent Teeth: The adult teeth. Also known as the permanent dentition.

Plaque: A sticky film on the teeth. If it is not removed by brushing it can harden into calculus.

Pontic: The part of a bridge that replaces the missing teeth.

Posterior Teeth: The back teeth (Bicuspids and molars).

Preventive: Procedure performed to prevent decay and gum disease. The procedures that Trojan classifies as preventive are the exam, x-rays and prophys. The exam and x-rays are also known as diagnostic procedures.

Primary Dentition: See Primary Teeth.

Primary Teeth: The baby teeth. Also known as the primary dentition. The baby teeth are replaced by the adult teeth (permanent teeth)

Prophy: See Prophylaxis.

Prophylaxis: Cleaning the teeth. Also known as a prophy.

Prosthodontics: A fixed or removable appliance to replace missing teeth. Example: bridges, dentures and partials. Sometimes single crowns are considered prosthetics.

Prosthetic Replacement: How old does the crown, bridge, partial or denture have to be before it can be replaced? They usually must be unserviceable also.

Prosthodontics: Dealing with the replacement of missing teeth.


Quadrant: One of the four equal sections of the mouth. The upper right, upper left, lower right or the lower left.


R.C.T.: See Root Canal Therapy.

Resin Filling: See Composite Filling.

Restorative: Procedures performed to restore the missing part of the teeth. Some insurance companies only consider the fillings to be restorative, others consider the fillings, crowns, bridges and dentures to be restorative.

Root Canal Therapy (R.C.T.): The nerve of the tooth is removed from the canal inside the root and replaced with a filling material

Root Planing: Deep cleaning of the teeth to remove calculus below the gumline. This is not a prophylaxis. This is a periodontal procedure and is usually performed one quadrant at a time. Procedure code 4341.


Sealant: Clear application of acrylic placed over the biting surface of the tooth to prevent decay. Most insurance companies only allow these on permanent teeth.

Single Film: See Periapical


Tartar: See Calculus.

Temporomandibular Joint (T.M.J.): Temporo (temporal bone), mandibular (lower jaw). This is the connecting hinge between the lower jaw and base of the skull. Also known as T.M.J.. T.M.J. treatment is sometimes paid under medical.

Third Molar: See Wisdom Tooth.

T.M.J.: See Temporomandibular Joint.


Virgin Teeth: Teeth that have no decay or fillings.


Wisdom Tooth: The third molar, this is the eighth tooth from the center of mouth to the back of the mouth. Wisdom teeth are often impacted (obstructed from erupting) and have to be extracted.


Looking forward to your next visit

South Beach Dental