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Glossary of Dental Terms

Abscess

abscess A local infection resulting in the collection of pus under pressure. A dental abscess may be caused by severe decay, trauma, or gum disease and will be characterised by swelling and pain. If an abscess ruptures, it will be accompanied by sudden relief from pain and a foul taste in the mouth.

Abutmentabutment

The teeth on either side of a missing toothAbutments are the part of the bridge used to support the replacement of the missing teeth (pontics).

Amalgamamalgam

Silver filling. Amalgams are usually placed on the back teeth (posterior teeth).

Anaesthesia

Relieves the sensation of pain

Bitewing

bitewing

X-ray that shows the upper and lower teeth's biting surfaces on the same film. This x-ray shows the portion of the teeth above the gumline.

Bridge

bridge

A fixed appliance (prosthesis) that replaces missing teeth. A bridge is a series of crowns (abutments and pontics).

Bruxism

bruxism

Clenching or grinding of the teeth

 
Calculus

calculus

The sticky film on your teeth (plaque) that has hardened (calcified). Also known as tartar.

 
Canal

canal

The narrow chamber inside the root of the tooth that contains the nerve and blood vessels.

 
Canine

canine tooth

The third tooth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. Also known as the 'eye tooth'; These are the front teeth that have one rounded or pointed edge used for biting.

 
Caries (dental)

caries

The clinical name for dental decay.

 
Composite (resin) Restoration

composite

The technical name for a 'white filling'. Although used primarily at the front of the mouth, these fillings are increasingly being placed in molar teeth because of advances in material technology.

Crown

crown

A porcelain, or gold cover for a decayed, damaged, brittle, or discolored tooth that has a strong base and roots.

Curettage

Surgical scraping of bacteria from the soft tissue.

Cusps

The high points on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (posterior teeth).

Deciduous Teeth

The baby teeth. Also known as the 'milk teeth'. There are twenty deciduous teeth.

Denture

denture

A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces all of the missing teeth in either the upper or lower jaw. Usually made of plastic or metal.

DTBS

Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme also known as the PRSI scheme managed by the Department of Protection. Under this Scheme PRSI payers are entitled to receive one free annual oral examination.

DTSS

Dental Treatment Services Scheme. The HSE manages this Scheme which offers medical card holders free routine dental care from contracting private dental practitioners .

Edentulous

All the teeth are missing in either the upper and / or lower jaw.

Enamel

enamel

The hard, outer shiny layer of the tooth. Certain conditions including grinding habits, a very acidic diet and brushing too hard can wear the enamel away leading to sensitive teeth.

Extraction (exodontia)

The removal of teeth that are severely decayed, broken, lose, or causing crowding.

Endodontics

The treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tip or nerve of the tooth. The most common procedure is a root canal treatment.

Full Mouth Radiographs

X-rays showing all the teeth. Includes 14 periapicals and 2 or 4 bitewings. Also known as a complete series.

General Anaesthesia

Relieves the sensation of pain on the whole body. General anesthesia renders you unconscious.

Gingiva

gingiva

The clinical term used to describe the gums.

 

Gingivitis

ginigivitis

Inflammation of the gums characterised by redness, bleeding and swelling. In certain instances, the condition may also cause pain (e.g. ANUG).

Impaction

impaction

An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that will not fully erupt because it is obstructed by another tooth, bone, or soft tissue.

Implant

A post that is implanted in the jaw bone. A crown, bridge or denture may then be retained by the implant.

Incisors

incisors

The central and lateral incisor, those are the first and second teeth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the front teeth with the flat edges for biting and cutting.

Inlay

inlay

A laboratory processed restoration made of metal, acrylic, composite or porcelain. This filling does not involve the high points of the tooth (cusps).

Local Anaesthetic

Relieves the sensation of pain in a localized area.

Mandible

The Lower Jaw

Maxilla

The Upper Jaw

Molar Tooth

molar tooth

The first, second and third molars, those are the sixth, seventh and eighth teeth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. The back teeth with the large chewing surface on top. They have 4 points (cusps).

Night Guard Appliance

A removable acrylic appliance to minimize the effects of grinding the teeth (bruxism) or joint problems (T.M.J.). Usually worn at night to prevent the grinding of teeth or relieve joint pain.

Occlusal

occlusal

The chewing surfaces of the back tooth

Onlay

A laboratory processed restoration made of metal, porcelain or acrylic that replaces one or more of the highest points of the tooth (cusps).

Oral Surgery

Surgery of the mouth.

Orthodontics

orthodontics

Orthodontics is one of the specialised fields of dentistry. It is concerned with the growth and development of the dentition and the treatment of irregularities which can occur.

P.A.

periapical

Abbreviation for a Periapical Radiograph (X-ray) .

 
Paedodontics

Paedodontics is one of the specialised fields of dentistry. It is the practice of dentistry on children.

Palate

Roof of the mouth.

Panorex

panorex

Commonly known as an OPG. An x-ray taken outside of the mouth that shows all the teeth on one film.

Partial Denture

partial denture

A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

Periodontal Charting

Measures the depth that the gums have detached from the side of the tooth forming a pocket (perio pocket).

Periodontology

The treatment of diseases of the gum or bone (supporting structure).

Periodontal Pocketing

The pocket that forms when the gums detach from the side of the tooth.

Permanent Molars

perm molars

The adult first and second molars, they are the sixth and seventh teeth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. Does not include the third molar (wisdom tooth).

 
Plaque

plaque

A sticky, bacteria laden film on the teeth. If it is not removed by brushing it can harden into calculus.

Pontic

pontic

The part of a bridge that replaces the missing tooth or teeth.

 
Premolars

premolars

The first and second bicuspids, those are the fourth and fifth teeth from the centre of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the back teeth that are used for chewing, they only have two points (cusps).

Preventive

Procedures performed to prevent decay and gum disease.

Primary Teeth

See 'Deciduous Teeth'.

Prophylaxis

Cleaning the teeth. Also known as a prophy.

Prosthetics

prosthetics

A fixed or removable appliance to replace missing teeth. Example: bridges, dentures and partials. Sometimes single crowns are considered prosthetics.

Prosthodontics

prosthodontics

Dealing with the replacement of missing teeth.

Quadrant

One of the four equal sections of the mouth. The upper right, upper left, lower right or the lower left.

Restorative

restorative

Procedures performed to restore the missing part of the teeth.

Root Canal Treatment (RCT)

The nerve of the tooth is removed from the canal inside the root and replaced with a filling material

Root Planing

Deep cleaning of the teeth to remove calculus below the gumline.

Sealant (Fissure Sealant)

Clear or coloured application of resin placed over the biting surface of the tooth to help prevent decay. Most commonly placed on newly erupted first permanent molar teeth.

T.M.J.

Temporo (temporal bone), mandibular (lower jaw). This is the connecting hinge between the lower jaw and base of the skull. Also known as TMJ.

Treatment Plan

A list of procedures and related costs recommended to treat patient's dental needs.

Veneer

veneers

A porcelain facing placed on an anterior tooth. With the recent boom in esthetic dentistry, veneers are commonly being used to improve smiles.

Wisdom Teeth

The third molar, this is the eighth tooth from the centre of mouth to the back of the mouth. Wisdom teeth are often impacted (obstructed from erupting) and have to be extracted.