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Glossary of Dental Terms

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Glossary of Dental Terms



A
Abscess
  Abscessa local infection resulting in the collection of pus under pressure. A dental abscess may be caused by severe decay, trauma, or gum disease and will be characterized by swelling and pain. If an abscess ruptures, it will be accompanied by sudden relief from pain and a foul taste in the mouth.
 
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
  Amalgam FillingSilver filling. Amalgams are usually placed on the back teeth (posterior teeth).
 
Anaesthesia
  Relieves the sensation of pain.
 
Anterior Teeth
  Anterior TeethThe front teeth.
 
 
B
Bitewing
 
Example of a bitewing radiographX-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
  Example of a bridgeA fixed appliance (prosthesis) that replaces missing teeth. A bridge is a series of crowns (abutments and pontics).
 
Bruxism
  Clenching or grinding of the teeth.
 
 
C
Calculus
  TartarThe sticky film on your teeth (plaque) that has hardened (calcified). Also known as tartar.
 
Canal
  Root CanalThe narrow chamber inside the root of the tooth that contains the nerve and blood vessels.
 
Canine Teeth
  Canine ToothThe third tooth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. Also known as the 'eye tooth'; These are the front teeth that have one rounded or pointed edge used for biting.
 
Caries (dental)
  Dental Caries in Molar TeethDental decay.
 
Composite Filling
  Tooth coloured filling. Composites are also known as resin fillings.
 
Crown
  Porcelain fused to metal crowna porcelain, or gold cover for a decayed, damaged, brittle, or discolored tooth that has a strong base and roots.
 
Curettage
  Surgical scraping of bacteria from the soft tissue.
 
Cusps
  The high points on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (posterior teeth).
 
 
D
Deciduous Teeth
  The Baby Teeth. Also known as 'milk teeth.'
 
Denture
  A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces all of the missing teeth in either the upper or lower jaw. Usually made of plastic or metal.
 
DFSCA
  also known as the PRSI scheme. Department of Social, Community & Family Affairs scheme enabling certain categories of qualifying PRSI contributors to obtain routine dental care from contracting private dental practitioners at subsidised rates.
 
DTSS
  Dental Treatment Services Scheme. Department of Health & Children scheme enabling G.M.S. (Medical Card) patients obtain free routine dental care from contracting private dental practitioners or Health Board Clinics.
 
 
E
Edentulous
  All the teeth are missing in either the upper or lower arch.
 
Enamel
  The hard shiny outer surface of the tooth.
 
Extraction (exodontia)
  The removal of teeth that are severely decayed, broken, lose, or causing crowding.
 
Endodontics (endo)
  The treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tip or nerve of the tooth. The most common procedure is a root canal treatment.
 
 
F
Full Mouth Radiographs
  X-rays showing all the teeth. Includes 14 periapicals and 2 or 4 bitewings. Also known as a complete series.
 
 
G
General Anaesthesia
  Relieves the sensation of pain on the whole body. General anesthesia renders you unconscious.
 
Gingiva
  The gums.
 
Gingivitis
  GingivitisInflammation of the gums characterised by redness, bleeding and swelling. In certain instances, the condition may also cause pain (e.g. ANUG)
 
H
 
I
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 Incisor TeethThe central and lateral incisor, those are the first and second teeth from the centre 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).
 
 
L
Local Anaesthetic
  Relieves the sensation of pain in a localized area.
 
 
M
Mandible
  The lower jaw.
 
Maxilla
  The upper jaw.
 
Molar Teeth
  First MolarThe first, second and third molars, those are the sixth, seventh and eighth teeth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. The back teeth with the large chewing surface on top. They have 4 points (cusps).
 
 
N
Night Guard Appliance
  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.
 
 
O
Occlusal
  The chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
 
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
  Surgery of the mouth.
 
Orthodontics
  Orthodontic Fixed ApplianceOrthodontics is one of the specialised fields of dentistry. It is concerned with the growth and development of the dentition and the treatment of irregularities which can occur.
 
 
P
P.A.
  Periapical RadiographCommon dental language for a periapical radiograph (X-ray).
 
Paedodontics
  The treatment of children's teeth.
 
Palate
  Roof of the MouthRoof of the mouth.
 
Panorex (OPG)
  OPG RadiographAn x-ray taken outside of the mouth that shows all the teeth on one film.
 
Partial Denture (RPD)
  A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.
 
Periapical
  A Periapical RadiographAn x-ray that shows the whole tooth (above and below the gumline). Also known as a single film or P.A.
 
Periodontal Charting
  Measures the depth that the gums have detached from the side of the tooth forming a pocket (perio pocket).
 
Periodontology
  The treatment of diseases of the gum or bone (supporting structure).
 
Periodontal Pocketing
  The pocket that forms when the gums detach from the side of the tooth.
 
Permanent First & Second Molars
  The adult first and second molars, they are the sixth and seventh teeth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. Does not include the third molar (wisdom tooth).
 
Permanent Teeth
  The adult teeth.
 
Plaque
  Plaque shown on teeth using a disclosing agentA sticky, bacteria laden film on the teeth. If it is not removed by brushing it can harden into calculus.
 
Pontic
  PonticThe part of a bridge that replaces the missing tooth or teeth.
 
Posterior Teeth
  The back teeth (Bicuspids and molars).
 
Premolars
  The first and second bicuspids, those are the fourth and fifth teeth from the centre 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).
 
Preventive
  Procedures performed to prevent decay and gum disease.
 
Primary Teeth
  The baby teeth. Also known as the primary dentition. The baby teeth are replaced by the adult teeth (permanent teeth).
 
Prophylaxis
  Cleaning the teeth. Also known as a prophy.
 
Prosthetics
  Crown on study castA fixed or removable appliance to replace missing teeth. Example: bridges, dentures and partials. Sometimes single crowns are considered prosthetics.
 
Prosthodontics
  Dealing with the replacement of missing teeth.
 
 
Q
Quadrant
  One of the four equal sections of the mouth. The upper right, upper left, lower right or the lower left.
 
 
R
Restorative
  Procedures performed to restore the missing part of the teeth.
 
Root Canal Treatment (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.
 
 
S
Sealant (Fissure Sealant)
  Clear or coloured application of acrylic placed over the biting surface of the tooth to prevent decay. Most insurance companies only allow these on permanent teeth.
 
 
T
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
 
Treatment Plan
  A list of procedures and related costs recommended to treat patient's dental needs.
 
 
U
 
 
V - Z
Veneer
  Porcelain VeneersA porcelain facing placed on an anterior tooth.
 
Virgin Teeth
  Teeth that have no decay or fillings.
 
Wisdom Teeth
  The third molar, this is the eighth tooth from the centre of mouth to the back of the mouth. Wisdom teeth are often impacted (obstructed from erupting) and have to be extracted.
 

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