Dental Terms


Abscess – Abscess may occur if your nerve dies and becomes inflammable.  You may feel pain or have swelling.  You must consult your dentist immediately to prevent the infection from getting bigger and losing bone around it.

Acetaminophen – The medicine relieves pain.  Commonly used Tylenol is one of them, which does not need any prescription from your doctor.

Acidic Food – This type of food makes your teeth weaker and cause decays and etc.  The common type would be soda and lemon, etc.

Aesthetic – Esthetic, which affects your beauty and your smile

Amalgam – Silver mercury alloy filling. Typically, they can cause less sensitivity to compare to the resin.

Antibiotic Prophylaxis – This is premedication prior to any dental treatment to avoid any potential infection during/after any dental procedure.  Some medical condition does require premedication.  You must consult your dentist.

Antibiotic – After some dental procedure, you are more prone to infection so some antibiotics are needed.  Also, some antibiotics may be needed prior to some dental procedures depending on the level of infection.

Anticoagulant Medication – This level keeps blood clotting in your blood so it can prevent stroke or heart attack, etc.  You must consult your dentist prior to any extractions.  Some medical clearance may be needed prior to some dental procedures.

Antiviral Medication – Medicine for viral infections.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay – Commonly known as ECC (Early Childhood caries).  If your baby is sucking on a baby bottle for a long time, it can cause significant carries.

Baby Teeth – Primary teeth.  Most of the toddler’s incisors fall out when they are 6-7 years old and they lose canines and baby molars around 12 years old.  A common misconception is most parents think they are not important to maintain; however, it is important to maintain the baby teeth especially ones that fall out at 12 yrs. old to maintain healthy orthodontic alignments.

Bacterial Endocarditis – A serious, but rare, infection involving the heart.

Bicuspids – premolars

Biocompatibility – Material being tolerated by the human body and does not cause any adverse reaction

Bisphosphonate – Medicine used to strengthen your bone

Bleaching – Teeth whitening procedure.  It can make your teeth sensitive temporarily.  Not everyone is suitable for bleaching, thus consult your dentist prior to getting any bleaching.

Bone Augmentation – Building bone to support tooth or implant.

Biopsy – This is to evaluate for any pathology microscopically by laboratory.

Bone Loss – Bone loss around your tooth due to infection causing mobility.

Bridge – Fixed appliance to replace your missing teeth. It is simply connected crowns.


Cardiovascular Disease – Disease related to heart also known as heart disease.

Caries – Tooth decay

Cavity – Caries cause holes in the mouth so it is called cavity. 

Codeine – This pain medicine can be only prescribed by your doctor as it can cause some side effect such as dizziness, sleepiness, breathing problems, and physical or mental dependence.

Composite – Tooth-colored filling material.  This is an alternative to Amalgam filling

Cosmetic Dentistry – A type of dentistry to improve your appearance in smile.

Crown – A crown is a cap to cover the tooth all round to make sure there is no leakage of bacteria into the tooth.  Typically used if there is a big filling or after root canal. 

Cuspid – Tooth with a single cusp also known as Canine.


Decay – Caries or Cavity

Deciduous Teeth – Primary teeth or baby teeth.

Deductible – Amount of money which the patient is responsible any time work is done annually by the insurance policy.  Some insurance takes the annual deductible even for preventive procedures. 

Dental Arch – All your upper teeth are in upper dental arch and lower teeth are in lower dental arch.

Dental Bridge – Fixed appliance to replace your missing teeth. It is simply connected crowns.

Dental Erosion – Wearing of the outer structure of your teeth called enamel.  Frequent intake of acidic foods or vomiting can cause the dental erosion.

Dental Home – Dentist office where you feel home for most of your dental care needs.

Dental Specialist – A dental specialist who specialize in specific area such as orthodontist, endodontist, periodontist, pediatric dentist, or oral surgeon.

Denture – Removable appliance to replace missing teeth.  It can be partial denture where there are at least some teeth supporting the appliance in the dental arch or it can be complete denture where there are no teeth in the dental arch.

Denture Adhesives – This can help to retain the denture better in the mouth.  However, if the complete denture is fitting good and you have solid bone structure to support the denture, the adhesive shouldn’t be needed.

Denture Cleanser – It is important to clean your denture every day.  Commonly, it comes with a little tab that you put in a container that you get from your dentist when you get your denture.  The denture is dipped in the container overnight for the denture cleaning.

Denture Reline – Repair on a denture that is ill-fitting.  The denture can fit better because with missing teeth over time your bone resorbs and it cause the denture to not fit over time.

Dry Mouth – Saliva is one of things that protect you from getting cavity but if you have inadequate flow of saliva, it can cause cavities.  This condition is also known as xerostomia.  The condition can even make you hard to talk.  Artificial saliva may be recommended in severe cases.

Dentin – It is the layer under enamel which is the most outer layer of each tooth that protect you from getting cavity. 

Diabetes – Diabetes is medical condition where there is high blood sugar level.  Diabetes can cause bone loss and periodontitis so it is very important to maintain good oral hygiene getting regular 6-month cleaning

Disease – illness


Edentulous – No teeth remaining in the dental arch

Emergency Dental Service – Limited exam and focused dental work is done to relieve the infection or pain on the visit

Enamel – The outer layer of tooth that protect your teeth

Endodontic – Root canal treatment

Endodontist – Dentist who specializes in root canals. Typically, if there is a major curve or calcification in the root canals, the patient is referred to Endodontist.

Esthetic – Aesthetic or cosmetic to improve your appearance

Extract – Removing of a tooth which is unrestorable


Filling – Taking caries and restoring the cavity with a filling material, it could be either permanent filling such as amalgam or resin or it could be temporary filling

First Molar – Permanent molar that erupts around 6-year-old

Floss – Flossing is very important because it gives proper irritation to gum tissue and over time your gum gets heathier and your bone gets healthier in return as well. 

Fluoride – Natural mineral that helps your teeth stronger from cavities

Fluoride Treatment – Putting natural mineral on top of teeth to prevent cavity. Too much or too less fluoride is not good for you so consult your dentist.

Fluoride Varnish – Fluoride that gets painted on top of teeth.

Full Denture – A removable complete denture for the dental arch


General Dentist – Your primary dental is provider who does most of general dental work, and you will get your proper referral to specialist in case you need to go to specialist.

Gingival – Gum tissue

Gingivitis – Inflammation of gum tissue causing typically bleeding especially on brushing.  Your gum should not be bleeding on brushing and if you bleed, consult your dentist.  Typically, it is a sign of gingivitis.

Gum Disease – It can be classified to gingivitis to periodontitis depending on the severity.  In gingivitis, gums are swollen causing bleeding but in periodontitis, your bone is already affected and an immediate consultation by your dentist is required.


Halitosis – A chronic bad breath

Hepatitis – An infection of the liver.

Hygienist – A board certified provider who can clean and examine for signs of disease under a dentist’s supervision


Ibuprofen – A pain medication that you don’t need a prescription. Common ones are Advil and Motrin.

Implant – A fixed replacement for missing teeth.  In order to place an implant, enough bone width needs to be present, thus consultation by your dentist is required.

Incisors – front teeth

Inflammation – Swelling.  It could be extra-oral swelling such as cheek swelling or could be swelling in gum tissue such as abscess.  They are bacterial infection so immediate attention by your dentist is required.

Intraoral – In the mouth. Intra oral exam is part of dental exam whenever you go to your dentist


Jaw – Maxilla (upper jaw) or the mandible (lower jaw)




Malocclusion – Your upper and lower teeth are aligned such that when you bite, they are supposed to hit each other in proper points.  In malocclusion, they are not hitting each other in proper position.  

Molar – The large back teeth function in chewing foods

Mouth Rinse – An oral rinse that can freshen your breath and control bacterial infection to some limit.

Mouthguard – An appliance used to protect teeth from injury.  Unlike night guard, for mouthguard upper and lower dental arches are fabricated.


NSAID – Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, which is a pain medicine that you can be without prescription.


Occlusal Surface – Top surface of tooth where most of chewing are done.

Opioids – This pain medicine can be only prescribed by your doctor as it can cause some side effect such as dizziness, sleepiness, breathing problems, and physical or mental dependence.

Oral – Relating to mouth. 

Oral Bacteria – Bacteria in the mouth

Oral Hygiene – Brushing or Flossing or any other activity that can keep your oral condition healthy

Oral Pathologist – A specialist who examines oral tissues for evidence of suspected abnormalities such as cancer.

Oral Surgeon – A type of dental specialist who mainly known for mostly extractions, but does specialize in jaw and oral or facial pathology.

Orthodontist – A type of dental specialist who mainly focus on teeth alignment

Orthodontic Treatment – Traditional braces with bracket or clear aligners to straighten your teeth to improve your smile

OsteoNecrosis of the Jaws – Severe loss of the jaw bone due to pathology.  It is important to consult an oral surgeon.

Osteoporosis – A medical condition that makes your bone weaker and brittle.

Over-The-Counter – OTC medicine that you can get without prescription

Oral Pathologist – A type of specialist who examines oral tissues for evidence of suspected abnormalities such as cancer.


Partial Denture – A removable partial denture for the dental arch if some teeth are remaining in the arch

Pediatric Dentist – A type of dental specialist who deals mostly with kids. 

Peri-implantitis – An infection around implant causing the implant to become loose over time.

Periodontist – A type of dental specialist who mainly focus on gum disease

Periodontal disease – Gum disease due to likely plague buildup.  It is important to consult your dentist because the bone loss is irreversible.

Periodontitis – A severe type of gum disease that involve irreversible bone loss. It is important to consult your dentist.

Plaque – A soft, sticky material that buildups on top of teeth which are collection of bacteria causing infection.

Primary teeth – Baby teeth.  It is a common misconception that they are not important.  It is important to maintain them to certain time to maintain the space, otherwise your permanent teeth may be significant misalignment.

Prior Authorization – Some dental insurance policy requires pre-approval for certain procedures prior to the actual work.

Prophylaxis – Dental cleaning that you get regularly.  It is important to get regular basic cleaning by your dentist because people tend have a missing area on brushing.

Prosthodontist – A type of dental specialist who mainly focus on crowns, bridges, dentures, etc.

Pulp – A hollow center of each tooth where it contains a network of blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues.


Quadrant – Mainly for deep cleaning, it is divided into four quadrants, such as Upper Right, Upper Left, Lower Right, Lower Left for classification of area of where the cleaning is performed.


Radiograph – X-ray.

Recession – Gum receding below CEJ area, causing more roots showing up in the mouth.

Restorative Dentistry – General Dentistry where most of your dental needs are taken care of.

Root Canal – A dental procedure to relive pain for most of pain.  However, it does not necessarily symptomatic tooth that needs a root canal.  When cavities are big enough close to a nerve chamber, it needs a root canal as well. 


Sealant – This is mostly for permanent molar which contains significant groves where bacteria can be trapped.  By putting a coating on top of the molars, it can prevent bacterial trap on the tooth thus preventing cavity.

Sinus – The air spaces in the facial bone.  A possible sinus preformation must be careful considered if an apex of upper tooth is located close to the sinus during a root canal, implant, or extraction procedure.

Sjogren Syndrome – An autoimmune disease which can make your bodily fluid to dry up causing dry mouth, dry eyes, etc.  Saliva is one of protections you have to prevent cavity, therefore people with the syndrome are more prone to cavity.

Staining – Discoloration of tooth.  It could be an external or internal stain.  External stains are mostly from foods and internal stain can be cause by injury. 

Stomatitis – An irritation on soft tissue inside your mouth on lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, palate, etc.

Scaling and Root Planning – Deep cleaning.  Once you buildup plague under gum tissue, you need to get anesthesia because in order to scrap the plague out, your dentist need to go inside the gum tissue.  It is important to get the deep cleaning because it causes irreversible bone loss.


Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) – Pain on Jaw.  In severe cases, there are surgery available by oral surgeons.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) – Joint on your jaw

Third Molar – Wisdom tooth, which is considered to non-functional tooth. 

Tooth Decay – Decay in tooth by bacterial infection causing cavity or hole in the mouth.

Tooth Extraction – Removal of tooth that is unrestorable mostly but sometimes for orthodontic purpose.

Topical – Fluoride or natural mineral to protect from cavity.


Unerupted – Tooth is not erupted through the gum tissue


Veneer – Esthetic partial crown


Whitening – Bleaching teeth to improve your smile.  It can make your teeth sensitive temporarily.  Not everyone is suitable for bleaching, thus consult your dentist prior to getting any bleaching.

Wisdom teeth – Third molar, which is considered to non-functional tooth. 


Xerostomia – Dry mouth, due to the lack of saliva flow, it can cause more cavity

X-ray – Radiograph


Zoom whitening – Teeth Whitening brand by Philips

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