General Dentistry |5 min read

Decoding Dental Terminology – Part II

Abutment The teeth on either side of a missing tooth.
Amalgam The most common material used for fillings, also called silver fillings; a mixture of mercury (approx 50%), silver, tin, copper and zinc.
Bite An impression made by the doctor that shows how the patient’s upper and lower jaws come together in centric.  A term sometimes used to designate occulusion.
Bridge Crown restorations of one or more missing teeth which is permanently attached to natural teeth which act as primary support.
Bruxism Clenching or grinding of teeth especially at night.
Calculus A hard deposit that forms when you do not brush your teeth so the plaque hardens.  Calculus is also known as tartar.
Centric The relationship of the upper and lower teeth to one another when the jaws are completely closed and at rest.
Centric Stop The point where a cusp on one posterior tooth contacts a fossa on the opposing tooth.
Cervical Borders The extreme margin toward the root.  It is located just above the cervical line.
Cervical Line The line around the surface of a tooth where the enamel and cementum meet.
Contact Area The area on a tooth that touches an adjacent tooth at the mesial and distal.
Crossbite A malocclusion where your upper teeth are inside of your lower teeth when you bite down.
Crown A fixed restoration with full coverage over the entire coronal structure a natural tooth. This restores the natural anatomy, function and aesthestics of the original tooth.
Decalcification The loss of calcium from your teeth.  This weakens your teeth and makes them more succeptable to decay.
Denture – Complete A dental prosthesis which is a substitute for the lost natural dentition and associated structures of the maxillae or mandible.
Denture – Immediate A dental prosthesis constructed  before removal of the teeth and inserted at the time of extraction.
Denture – Partial A dental prosthesis which restores on one or more – but less than all – natural teeth and/or associated  parts & which is supported by the teeth and/or mucosa;  It may be removable or fixed.
Diastema A space situated between teeth.  Most commonly a space between the upper central incisors.
Edentulous Without teeth.
Embrasure A space around two teeth created by the sloping of the mesial and distal surfaces from the contact point.  The space is divided into occlusal, incisal, facial, lingual and gingival areas.
Enamel The outer covering of a natural tooth.  It is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance in the human body.
Fistula A tunnel conducting puss from one infection to the site of another; It is also known as a gum boil.
Frenectomy Removal of the frenum – the thin cord of tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum or the tonue to the floor of the mouth.
Gingival Hypertrophy The abnormal enlargement of the gingiva surrounding the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene.
Halitosis Another name for bad breath.
Implant A replacement for a missing tooth.
Malocclusion Poor position of your teeth.
Periodonatal Pockets Toxins in plaque destroy the gum and connective tissues beneath the teeth, forming a pocket.  As the disease progresses toward the bone, the pocket fills with plaque and infection.  If not treated, the bone and connective tissue surrounding the tooth may become so severely damaged that the tooth will fall out or need to be extracted.
Periodontal Disease Bacterial infections involving bone loss around the teeth.  Inflamation and irritation of the gums, if left untreated, can cause the jaw and teeth to deteriorate and fall out.
Periodontitis Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease in which the tissues and bones that support the teeth are damaged by the buildup of bacterial plaque.  If periontitis is not treated, theeth can become lose and may fall out or need to be removed.  Treatment for periodontitis includes a cleaning method called root planing and scaling that removes plaque and tartar buildup both above and below the gum line.  Antibiotics may be needed to help get rid of the infection.  If gum disease is severe, surgery may be required.
Plaque A colorless, ordor, sticky substance containing acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Pocket Depth The size (depth) of a periodontal pocket, usually measured in millimeters.
Pontic A false tooth mounted on a bridge.
Post / core A thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy has been completed.  It provides retention for a “core” which is a buildup of material that replaces the lost tooth structure.
Prophylaxis A standard dental cleaning of your teeth that helps maintain good oral hygiene and prevents the development of infection.
Pulpectomy The removal of the pulp in children’s teeth.
Pulpitis Inflammation of the pulp; a common cause of a toothache.
Retruded a term used when your front teeth are slated lingually (i.e.  Towards the back of your mouth)
Root Canal A procedure where the nerve of a heavily decayed tooth is removed from the tooth and replaced with an inert filling material.
TMD Temporomandibular Disfunction of the temporomandibular joint.
TMJ An abreviation for the “temporomandibular joint”. The temporomandibular joint is where your lower jaw connects to your skull.
Tori / Torus A bony osseous protruberance (or growth) on the palate or lower jaw of the mouth.  This is most often exaserbated by clenching one’s teeth


To schedule an appointment, call Illinois Dentist, Dr. Bradley Rule at 847-662-7717

‘Creating Beautiful Smiles For A Lifetime’ to families in Gurnee, Grayslake, Libertyville, Lindenhurst and Wadsworth IL.  We look forward to hearing from you!


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