Dental Glossary

Want to know more about what your dentist is talking about? Your dentist should be able to explain everything to you without technical language, but you might be curious about the real term for things. Dr. Mularczyk wants you to be in control of your health. Part of being in control is knowing and understanding.

Tooth Identification:

Permanent teeth are numbered; baby or primary teeth are identified by letters.

Tooth Type:

Incisors, canines, premolars, molars, third molars = wisdom teeth

Tooth surfaces:

These surfaces are also abbreviated like M, D, O…

Mesial = towards the middle (front)

Distal = towards the back

Facial or Buccal = towards the cheek or lips

Lingual = towards the tongue side or roof of the mouth

Occlusal = the chewing surface of a back tooth

Incisal = the cutting edge of a front tooth

Tooth anatomy:

Enamel = outermost layer of the tooth, hardest substance in the body

Dentin = inner layer of the tooth, about the same hardness as bone

Pulp = innermost layer of the tooth, made up of blood vessels and nerves

Root = helps hold the tooth into the bone Gingiva = gums

Other terms:

Abfraction = notched out areas on the side of the tooth, due to clenching and grinding

Abrasion = worn areas on the sides of teeth, usually due to brushing too hard

Amalgam = metal/silver filling

Anesthetic = numbing medicine

Attrition = wear on the tops of the teeth, due to age or grinding

Bruxism = clenching and grinding

Calculus = hard tartar build-up on your teeth

Caries = tooth decay

Cast = model of your teeth made from an impression

Composite = white filling or bonding

Crown = cap

Denture = false teeth or plate

Endodontic treatment = root canal treatment

Erosion = worn out areas of the teeth caused by acid

Extraction = removal of a tooth

Furcation = area where tooth roots meet, can be susceptible to gum disease

Margin = area where the tooth and a crown or filling meet

Mastication = chewing

Occlusion = the way the upper and lower teeth come together

Partial denture = plate or flipper, replaces only some teeth

Periodontal disease = gum disease or pyorrhea

Plaque = soft bacterial build-up on your teeth

Pocket = deep area between the gums and the tooth, may be a sign of gum disease

Prophy = dental cleaning

Prosthesis = refers to some tooth replacement, usually a denture or partial

Protrusive = sticking out

Provisional crown = temporary crown

Radiograph = X-ray

Radiolucency = a dark area on a X-ray, may mean decay or an infection around a tooth

Restoration = filling

Retrusive = sunken in

Shade = the color of your teeth

TMJ = Jaw joint

Xerostomia = dry mouth