Glossary

Please select a letter:  A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T U V
 
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Abscess An area of swelling surrounding an infection caused by bacteria around a tooth or jaw problem.
Aerobic bacteria Aerobic bacteria grow in oxygen rich environments, and in the oral cavity the bacteria are found outside the sulcus.
Alveolar bone The bone which surrounds the root of the tooth, holding it in place. Loss of this bone is typically associated with severe periodontal disease.
Amalgam Dental material used to repair carious lesions. Commonly referred to as "Silver fillings", usually consists of a mixture of Silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc particles combined with mercury.
Anaerobic bacteria Anaerobic bacteria are those bacteria which thrive in a non-oxygenated environment, such as that found in periodontal pockets, and are generally associated with periodontal disease.
Anterior teeth These are the six teeth located in the front of the mouth (to the canines), and are used as cutting (biting) surfaces rather than chewing surfaces.
Antibiotic Substance produced by or derived from bacteria which is able to inhibit or kill other bacteria, i.e. penicillin.
Antimicrobial Destroying or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
ANUG Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis. Acute, painful condition occurring primarily in the anterior teeth, characterized by severe gingival redness, heavy plaque, spontaneous bleeding, foul breath and pain.
Appliance Any removable dental restoration or orthodontic device.
Attachment level This is numerical measure of the attachment of periodontal ligament, which is determined generally by combining a pocket depth measurement with a measurement of gingival recession. Attachment level is considered one of the most important measures of periodontal disease progress or treatment success.
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Bactericidal Refers to an antimicrobial's ability to kill bacteria.
Bacteriostatic Ability of an antimicrobial to control or inhibit bacterial growth.
Buccal This is the technical term for the cheek, and is also used to refer to the cheek side of tooth surfaces. Technically, this term is used to describe the cheek surfaces of the posterior teeth, but is also used to describe the cheek surfaces of anterior teeth as well.
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Calculus A tenacious, hardened material formed by mineralization (calcification) of dental plaque.
Cannula A blunt-ended needle used for in-office procedures, resembling a periodontal probe, usually attached to an oral irrigation device to deliver an antimicrobial into a sulcus or periodontal pocket.
Caries The technical term for cavities or tooth decay.
Cavity The space inside a tooth that remains once decay is removed.
Cementoenamel junction Abbreviated as "CEJ", this is the point at which the tooth and root come together.
Cementum Located at the root of the tooth, cementum serves as the anchor point for the ligaments that join the tooth to the boney tooth socket. It is the softest of the tooth structures.
Cheek pouch The area of the mouth inside the cheek.
Chemotherapeutic An agent of a chemical nature which exerts an antimicrobial effect.
Crown Portion of tooth covered by enamel; also refers to a dental restoration shaped like the tooth it covers.
Curettage The removal of damaged or diseased tissue from the inside of a periodontal pocket.
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Darkfield microscopy Used primarily as a patient education tool, this involves examination of a plaque sample under a polarized light microscope. The shape and movement of the plaque bacteria are characterized.
Debridement Treatment of bacterial infection by removing irritants (bacteria, calculus) from the periodontal pocket so as to allow healing of the adjacent tissues.
Deciduous teeth Baby teeth.
Demineralization A loss of mineral from tooth enamel just below the surface in a carious lesion. May appear as a small white area on the tooth surface.
Dental resin A dental material applied to the tooth which is used in cases of severe dentinal hypersensitivity. Typically not used unless all other treatment attempts have failed.
Dental varnish A hypersensitivity treatment which sometimes contains sodium fluoride, varnishes are applied to the tooth surface, covering the outer surface of dentin and thus blocking transmission of painful stimuli to the pulp.
Dentinal tubules Microscopic canals that run from the outside of the dentin to the nerve inside the tooth.
Dentin This is the main tissue that forms the shape of the tooth. Dentin is the material which exists between the pulp and the enamel, and comprised of a series of dentinal tubules stacked on top of each other.
Desensitization Blocking the pain stimulus that cause dentinal hypersensitivity.
Desquamation A peeling of the tissue of the gingiva. In cases of desquamative gingivitis, the tissues may appear smooth and shiny, with patches of bright red and gray. Surface tissue may peel away, exposing a raw, bleeding and extremely painful surface.
Dietary sugar Sugar occuring in your diet, including sugar found in sweets, fruits and processed foods.
Distal Referring to the tooth surfaces that face away from the midline of the mouth.
Dorsal surface The top surface, typically used when speaking of the tongue, i.e. the dorsal surface of the tongue.
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Edema Swelling that occurs when fluid accumulates in the gingival tissues.
Enamel Enamel is the hard, mineralized, white material which covers the outside of the tooth.
Endotoxins Endotoxins are a poisonous substance released from bacteria when it dies, and can cause tissue destruction directly or trigger an immune response which caused tissue breakdown.
Enzyme A protein in the body that triggers the body's metabolism.
Eruption When teeth first peek through gums.
Explorer A probe used to detect cavity growth.
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Facial Describes the surfaces of the anterior teeth facing the lips.
Fissures Cleft-like grooves in the chewing surface of the back teeth.
Fluoride A chemical compound that helps strengthen teeth as well as reduce tooth decay and sensitivity.
Fluorosis Discoloration of the enamel due to too much fluoride ingestion (greater than one (1) part per million) systemically into the bloodstream, also called enamel mottling.
Free gingiva The marginal part of the gingival (gums) that can be deflected from the tooth surface. The free gingiva forms a collar around the tooth.
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Gingival crevicular fluid Abbreviated as "GCF", this is the clear fluid which continually flushes out the sulcus. In a state of health, there is little gingival crevicular fluid; however as inflammation increases, the amount of GCF increases also.
Gingival margin Area of gingiva closest to the tooth surface, commonly referred to as the "gumline"
Gingival recession The condition which exists when the gingival margin has receded towards the root from the cementoenamel junction (the area where the tooth and root meet).
Gingiva The dense tissue surrounding the teeth and covering the alveolar bone, commonly referred to as "gums".
Gingivitis Gingivitis generally refers to an inflammation of the gingiva (gums), and ranges in classification from mild to severe. Gingivitis is associated with redness, edema (swelling), bleeding, and tenderness of the gingiva.
Gum line Space between tooth (including root) and gum tissue.
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Hard palate The bony front portion of the roof of the mouth.
Hyperplasia Overgrowth of the gingival tissues. This can continue until a large portion of the teeth is covered by gingival tissue.
Hypersensitivity A sharp, sudden painful reaction when the teeth are exposed to hot, cold, chemical, mechanical or osmotic (sweet or salt) stimuli.
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Immune response The body's natural defense against bacterial assault, the immune response can also destroy alveolar bone in its attempt to destroy bacteria.
Implants A metal rod that is screwed into the jaw where teeth are missing. An artificial tooth is then fitted over the implant to replace missing teeth.
Incisal edges Refers to the biting edges of the anterior teeth.
Instrumentation The term used to describe the use of hand held instruments during a debridement procedure in the dental office.
Interdental Between the teeth.
Iontophoresis The process of introducing a drug through the dental enamel by use of a direct electrical current. Used in the treatment of dentin hypersensitivity.
Irrigation Mechanical method of flushing supra- and subgingival areas with fluid to disrupt debris and plaque.
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Labial Referring to the surfaces of the anterior teeth that oppose the inner surface of the lip.
Lingual Refers to the inside surface of the tooth closest to the tongue.
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Maintenance Regularly scheduled dental visits designed to maintain the health of the patient. Maintenance visits and therapy are based on the status of the patients oral health.
Malocclusion Refers to abnormal or malposition relationships of the maxillary teeth to the mandibular teeth. Correction of malocclusion involves orthodontic treatment.
Mandible The mandible is the bone that forms the lower jaw. This the largest and only freely-movable bone of the face.
Maxilla The upper jaw, which forms the upper portion of the mouth. The maxilla consists of two bones joined together at the midline of the face.
MBC The minimum bacterial concentration (MBC) of an antimicrobial is the concentration required to kill an organism.
Mesial Referring to the tooth surfaces that face towards the midline of the mouth.
MIC Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) refers to the bacteriostatic properties of an antimicrobial, meaning the concentration of an antimicrobial required to inhibit, or control the growth of an organism.
Molars Large, broad, multi-cusped teeth at the back of the mouth.
Mouthguard A soft fitted device which protects teeth against impact or injury.
Mucosa The thin, outer pink or red membrane lining the inside of the oral cavity.
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Neoplasm Refers to oral cancer.
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Occlusal trauma Occurs when excessive forces are placed on a normal dentition, i.e. grinding and clenching of teeth. If left uncontrolled, occlusal trauma may result in rapid attachment loss and bone loss.
Occlusal The term identifies the biting surface of the posterior teeth.
Occlusion Refers to the contact between maxillary and mandibular teeth in all mandibular positions and movement.
Orthodontics An area of dentistry concerned with the correction of malocclusion and the restoration of teeth to proper functioning.
Osmotic Referring to dentinal hypersensitivity, osmotic refers to the tooth's hypersensitive response to sugars or salts.
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Palatal The palatal area is found on the roof of the mouth.
Papilla Refers to the "v" shaped gum tissue between individual teeth.
Pellicle The first step in plaque formation, the pellicle is a clear, thin covering containing proteins and lipids (fats) found in saliva. Pellicle is formed within seconds after a tooth surface is cleaned.
Periapical abscess Infection of the pulp of the tooth and tissues surrounding the base of the tooth.
Periocoronitis Infection of the tissue overlying a partially erupted tooth. Treatment involves keeping this tissue clean and free of bacteria.
Periodontal abscess Acute infection of the gingival tissues surrounding an individual tooth, typically involving bone loss, pain, bleeding, severe redness and swelling of the affected area.
Periodontal disease Occurs when anaerobic bacteria reside in the periodontal pocket, leading to tissue destruction. The pocket increases in depth and there is a loss of the tissue's ability to support the tooth in the alveolar bone.
Periodontal ligament The fibers which suspend the tooth in the boney socket. The periodontal ligament is attached at one end to the cementum, and at the other end to the alveolar bone.
Periodontal probe An instrument used to measure pocket depth.
Periodontal Of or pertaining to the tissue and bone that support teeth.
Periodontitis A form of periodontal disease affecting adults resulting in destruction of alveolar bone.
Plaque attached Bacterial plaque which is attached to hard tooth surfaces and can be removed only by mechanical means (i.e. instrumentation, oral hygiene aids such as toothbrushes, floss, etc,).
Plaque loosely adherent Free floating bacterial plaque found on the surface of supragingival and subgingival plaque; contains most of the disease causing bacteria, and can easily be flushed from subgingival area with irrigation.
Polishing A dental procedure that removes stain, plaque and acquired pellicle by using an abrasive polishing paste in a rubber cup attached to a slow-speed hand piece or air-powder polisher.
Posterior teeth This refers to the premolar and molar teeth. The posterior teeth are those used for grinding food.
Premolars Two-cusped teeth immediately in front of molars.
Prophylaxis Preventive dental office procedure involving removal of hard and soft deposits from the exposed surfaces of the dentition.
Proximal Proximal surfaces are the surfaces of adjacent teeth.
Pulp Pulp is the living part of the tooth, located inside the dentin. Pulp contains the nerve tissue and blood vessels which supply nutrients to the tooth.
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Radiographic Referring to x-rays.
Remineralization Redeposition or replacement of the tooth's minerals into a de mineralized (previously decayed) lesion. This reverses the decay process, and is enhanced by the presence of topical fluoride.
Resistant bacteria Bacteria which have developed resistance to typical modes of periodontal therapy.
Restorations Any replacement for lost tooth structure or teeth; for example, bridges, fillings, crowns and implants.
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Sealants Used to prevent caries (tooth decay), sealants are a plastic liquid which is placed on the top surfaces of posterior teeth. The sealant hardens into place, forming a shallow surface that is easily cleaned with a toothbrush.
Sloughing A condition in which the gingival tissue deadens and peels away from the living tissue.
Soft palate The back tissue portion of the roof of the mouth.
Stain extrinsic Refers to tooth stain located on the outside of the tooth surface originating from external substances such as tobacco, coffee, tea or food. This stain can be removed by polishing the teeth with an abrasive prophylaxis paste.
Stain intrinsic Refers to tooth stain originating from the ingestion of certain materials or chemical substances during tooth development, or from the presence of caries. This stain is permanent and cannot be removed.
Subgingival The moat-like area below the gingival margin which surrounds the tooth.
Substantivity Refers to the amount of time that an active ingredient or agent remains effective after being applied to the area of treatment. Used in describing the activity of chemotherapeutic agents.
Sulcus The space between the free gingival and the tooth, having a depth of 1-3mm.
Supragingival The area above the gingival margin.
Systemic Ingested and allowed to reach areas of the body through the bloodstream.
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Teething Baby teeth pushing through gums.
Temporomandibular Joint Also abbreviated as "TMJ", this is the area forming the "hinge" between the mandible and the skull.
Topical Applied directly to an infected area for treatment.
Toxicity Referring to the human safety of a product or ingredient.
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Ultrasonic Conversion of high frequency electrical current into mechanical vibrations.
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Ventral surface The underside, used when speaking of the tongue; thus the ventral surface of the tongue is the underside of the tongue.