GLOSSARY OF TERMS

To help you better understand the dental terms you might encounter during your visit with us, we have provided the following 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 Resorption
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.

Caries
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
A 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.