Dental News

An End Of Year Review of Dental Vocabulary and Definitions: Part 1

December 25, 2019

An End Of Year Review of Dental Vocabulary and Definitions: Part 1

It is recommended that you visit your dentist at least two times a year. Every time during your checkup, there are probably some dental jargon that you hear and do not know what it means. Since it’s the end of the year, let’s take some time to review some common vocabulary words and definitions used in a dental offices. This will help you become more familiar with different terms and understanding of different dental concepts. This is part 1 of the list of common dental terms with their definitions.

List of Common Dental Terms and Definitions


Abrasion: Tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing such as holding objects between the teeth or improper brushing.

Abutment: A tooth or implant fixture that is used to support a dental prosthesis.

Amalgam: A single surface silver, tin, or coppoer filling used in direct dental restorations.

Anesthesia (local): The loss of pain sensation over a specific area of the anatomy without loss of consciousness.

Apicoectomy: Removal of the apex or tip of a tooth root.


Basic Cleaning: Routine cleaning for a normal amount of plaque buildup to help prevent gum disease.

Bicuspid: A premolar tooth or a tooth with two cusps.

Bilateral: Occurring on or pertaining to both the right and left sides.

Biopsy: Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.

Bleaching: A cosmetic dental procedure that whitens teeth using a type of bleaching solution.


Calculus: A hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices.

Caries: A common term used for tooth decay.

Cavity: Decay in tooth caused by caries that led to a missing tooth structure and also referred to as carious lesions.

Cementum: A hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.

Composite: A dental restorative material made up of disparate or separate parts, such as resin and quartz particles. A single surface composite filling can be performed on a tooth in the front of the mouth.

Crown: A simple procedure using a porcelain crown fused to non-precious metal and not involving complicated prep to replace and restore a missing tooth structure.

Cusp: The pointed portion of a tooth.


Decay: A term used for carious lesions in a tooth, also describes as a decomposition of a tooth structure.

Dental prosthesis: An artificial device that replaces one or more missing teeth.

Dental specialist: A dentist who has received postgraduate training in one of the recognized dental specialties.

DDS: Dental degree that stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery.

DMD: Dental degree that stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine.

Dentin: The part of the tooth that is beneath the enamel and cementum.

Dry mouth: A condition where not enough saliva is in the mouth to keep it wet. If untreated, can lead to increased tooth decay and mouth infections.


Enamel: The hard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of the tooth.

Erosion: The wearing down of tooth structure that is usually caused by acids in the mouth.

Excision: The surgical removal of bone or tissue.

Extraction: The process of removing a tooth or parts of a tooth. A simple tooth extraction does not require sectioning of the tooth or other outstanding procedures for removal.


Filling: A term used for the restoring of lost tooth structure by using materials such as metal, alloy, plastic or porcelain.

Fixed Appliances: Orthodontic devices that is commonly known as braces, that are bonded to the teeth to produce different tooth movements to help reposition teeth.

Fracture: The breaking of a part of a tooth.


Gingiva: The soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.

Gingivitis: Inflammation of gingival tissue without the loss of connective tissue.

Give our California Dental Group team a call at (800) 407-0161 if you would like to know more of any of the part 1 terms listed and to schedule an appointment with us.

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