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Dental Education

 

Glossary of Dentistry Terms

Abscess
Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums.

Abutment
The teeth on either side of a missing tooth.

Amalgam
A silver/mercury mixture which is used for fillings.

Anatomy
1) The arrangement of the bones in your skeleton
2) The study of the arrangement of the bones in your skeleton.

Antiseptic
A chemical agent which can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.

Anesthetic
A drug which a doctor or dentist uses to put you, your mouth, or some other part of your body asleep so you do not feel any pain during dental or medical procedures.

Anterior
An adjective used to describe things pertaining to your your Centrals, laterals and cuspids (your front teeth).

Arch
Collectively, either the teeth or the basal bone of either jaw.

Articulator
A special holder for models of your teeth. The articulator holds the models in the same alignment as your jaw so the orthodontist can look carefully at your bite.

Asepsis
The avoidance of potentially pathogenic microorganism. In practice, it refers to those techniques which aim to exclude all microorganisms.

Aspirator
Tube like a straw which the dentist puts in your mouth to suck up all the saliva.

Aspiration
Removal of fluids from your mouth with an aspirator.

Avulsuion
Ripped away or to have a knocked out tooth

Bonding
A technique of joining orthodontic brackets or other attachments directly to the enamel surface of a tooth, using orthodontic adhesives.

Bridge
A bridges is made up crowns attached to the teeth, or implants, on either side of a gap (missing tooth). A false tooth (pontic) is “attached” to these other crowns.

Bruxism
Clenching or grinding of your teeth especially at night.

Calculus
A hard deposit that forms when you do not brush your teeth so the plaque hardens. Calculus is also known as tartar.

Caries
Another name for a cavities (tooth decay)

Cavity
A small hole in one of your teeth caused by tooth decay.

Cross contamination
Passing bacteria, viruses or AIDS indirectly from one patient to another through the use of improper sterilization procedures, unclean instruments, or “recycling” of orthodontic products.

Crown
1) An artificial tooth
2) An artificial replacement for the covering on a tooth.

Crown Lengthening
Is a sub-division of gingival flap procedures and it is normally done on 1 or 2 teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.

Curettage
A periodontal procedure where your gums are scraped to remove bacteria.

Decalcification
The loss of calcium from your teeth. This weakens your teeth and makes them more succeptable to decay

Denture
A synthetic replacment for all of your teeth in either your upper or your lower jaw.

Diagnosis
The process of identifying the nature of a disorder.

Direct contamination
Direct contact with impurities or germs. (for example by a Patient sneezing on the assistant.)

Disinfection
A cleaning process which destroys of most microorganism, but not highly resistant forms such as bacterial and mycotic spores or the AIDS virus.

Disinfectant
A chemical agent which is applied onto inanimate surfaces, for example chairs, to destroy germs.

Disposable materials
Materials intended for one use and discarded. (e.g.: Gloves, paper gowns, cotton rolls, sponges, etc.)

Distal
Behind towards the back of the mouth. For example you might say that the first bicuspid is distal to the cuspid.

Edentulous
Someone is said to be edentulous when all of their teeth are missing from either their upper or lower jaw.

Enamel
The hard covering on the exposed part of a tooth.

Endodontist (Endo)
A dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tips or nerves in your teeth.

Erupt / Eruption
When a new tooth comes in, the tooth is said to erupt when the tooth breaks through the surface of your gums, so you can see the tooth in your mouth.

Exfoliate
To fall out. (Your deciduous teeth exfoliate and permanent teeth erupt into the space.)

Extraoral
Outside of your mouth. For example, neck pads are said to be extra oral products since they go outside of your mouth.

Extraction
The removal of tooth.

Filtrum
The dimple or indentation under the nose directly above the upper lip.

Flipper
A temporary partial denture.

Fluoride
A chemical solution or gel which you put on your teeth. The fluoride hardens your teeth and prevents tooth decay.

Flourosis
An abnormal condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine, as from fluoridated drinking water, characterized chiefly by mottling of the teeth. Severe chronic fluorine poisoning leads to osteosclerosis and other pathologic bone and joint changes in adults

Gingival hypertrophy
Abnormal enlargement of the gingiva surrounding the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene.

Gingivectomy
A less intrusive method of correcting pocket depths is done via reduction of excess gum tissue, without opening the gums.

Gingivitis
The inflammation of your gums caused by improper brushing. The first sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

Gum Disease
Periodontal (gum) disease is a slowly progressing infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.

Impacted tooth
An unerupted tooth that somehow has gotten stuck and cannot come in.

Implant
A replacement for one of your missing teeth. The implant is different than a bridge in that the implant is permenantly attached into your jaw.

Incisal
The biting edge of your central and lateral teeth.

Interproximal
The space between adjacent teeth

Intraoral
Inside your mouth. For example, orthodontic rubber bands are called intraoral products since the rubber bands are designed to go in your mouth.

Irrigation
The technique of using a solution to wash out your mouth and to flush debris.

Labial
Tooth surface next to your lips or things mounted on the tooth surfaces next to your lips.

Lingual
The tooth surface next to your tongue or things mounted on the tooth surfaces next to your tongue.

Mandible
Your lower jaw

Mandibular
Pertaining to your lower jaw

Masticate
To chew your food and mix the food with saliva

Maxilla
Your upper jaw

Maxillary
Pertaining to your upper jaw

Mesial
Forward or front. For example your cuspid is mesial to you bicuspid. The mesial surface of your bicuspid is the part of the bicuspid closest to your cuspid.

Midline
A plane through the very center of your mouth perpendicular to your nose.

Mixed dentition
The situation when both deciduous and permanent teeth are present.

Occlusal
The chewing or grinding surface of the bicuspid and molar teeth.

Occlusal plane
The imaginary surface on which upper and lower teeth meet.

Occlusal radiograph
The only x-ray that is taken without a precision(tm) x-ray holder. The x-ray film for this procedure is shaped like a large oatmeal cookie. You are asked to bite on the x-ray film and the top of the x-ray machine is positioned over your nose for a maxillary occlusal x-ray or under your chin for a mandibular occlusal film. The x- ray shows the whole arch.

Oral
Pertaining to the mouth.

Osteoblasts
Cells which aid the growth and development of teeth and bones.

Osteoclasts
Cells which help create the sockets in bones. For example osteoclasps create the openings in your jaw bone to hold your teeth.

Pathogens
Disease producing organisms that can exist in many different places. (e.g.: Air, dust, counter top surfaces, the body, etc.)

Pathology
The study of abnormal (diseased) tissue conditions.

Pedodontist (Pedo)
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of children’s teeth.

Periapical
X-ray of individual teeth or groups of teeth.

Periodontist (Perio)
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of diseases of your gums.

Plaque
A colorless, odorless, sticky substance containing acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Periodontal
Pertaining to your gums. For example periodontal desiese is gum disease.

Periodontist
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease.

Posterior
Adjective used to describe things pertaining to the back of your mouth or your back teeth.

Prophylaxis
Cleaning your teeth

Prosthodontist
A dentist who specializes in the replacement of missing teeth.

Proximal
Refers to the surfaces of teeth that touch the next tooth; the space between adjacent teeth is the interproximal space.

Radiograph
Another name for an X-ray

Root canal
A procedure where the nerve of a heavily decayed tooth is removed from the tooth replaced with a filling material

Sagittal plane
The longitudinal vertical plane that divides the mouth into two halves (left and right.)

Sanitization
A cleaning process which reduces germs to a “safe” level.

Sealants
They are a dental treatment consisting of appyling a plastic material to one or more teeth for the intended purpose of preventing dental caries (cavaties) or other forms of tooth decay.

Space maintainer
A gadget used to maintain a space in your mouth. You would use a space maintainer when you lose one of your baby teeth. The space maintainer will keep a space in your mouth until a permenant tooth comes in to fill the space.

Sterilization
A process where a medical material is treated to remove all possible germs and other forms of life

Supernumerary teeth
Some people have extra teeth. These are called “supernumerary teeth”.

Tartar
Another name for calculus

TMJ
An abreviation for the “temporomandibular joint” The “temporomandibular joint” is the joint where your lower jaw connects to your skull.

Treatment card
A sheet of paper or special index card used to record your treatment progress.

Teeth whitening
The use of laser light technology. Apply a whitening gel to surface of teeth and beam the laser light onto them. Whiter, brighter teeth in about an hour.

Orthodontic Dental Materials

Acrylic
A plastic used to make false teeth, retainers, and other dental products. Dental acrylic has been tested and thought to be perfectly safe.

Algenate
A plaster like compound used to take impressions. It tastes awful, but is safe.

Armamentarium
General term for the dental chairs, lights and equipment used by a dentist or orthodontist.

Biomechanics
The relationship between the force you apply to living tissue such as teeth and gums and and how the tissue moves and changes

Biteplane
A removable appliance made of acrylic designed to open a deep bite.

Nickel Titanium or (NiTi)
An especially strong orthodontic wire which allows for rapid tooth movement.

“Recycling”
A disgusting procedure where an orthodontist takes bands, brackets, wires, etc. out of one patient’s mouth and “recycles” them to another patient’s mouth. This should not be confused with the kind of recycling you do in your house; materials recycled in your home are used as a source of raw materials and not simply reused.

Orthodontic Procedures

Acid etch
A procedure where a weak acid smeared on your teeth to ready your teeth for brackets. The acid etch helps your brackets stay on better.

Archform
“V”-shaped archform.

Banding
The process of cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth

Bonding
The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using a special safe glue

Cephalometric X-Rays
An x-ray of the head that shows whether your teeth are aligned properly, and whether they are growing properly.

Closed bite
“deep bite.”

Consultation
A meeting with your orthodontist where he discusses your treatment plan

Crossbite
A malocclusion where some of your upper teeth are inside of your lower teeth when you bite down.

Crowding
Orthodontic problem caused by having too many teeth in two small of a space.

Crown angulation
A tooth movement in which the root of the tooth is tipped forward or backward to correct the angle of the crown.

Crown inclination
A tooth movement in which the root of the tooth is tipped toward cheeks (lips) or toward the lingual (palate) of the mouth.

Debanding
The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

Debonding
The removal of the brackets from your teeth

Deep bite
Excessive overbite; closed bite.

Dentition
The arrangement of the teeth.

Diastema
A space between two teeth.

Drift
Unwanted movement of teeth.

Extraoral photograph
Facial photos.

Extrusion
Tooth movement in the direction of eruption. Natural extrusion: teeth grow until there is contact with another tooth. Mechanical extrusion: to pull the teeth so that it extends farther out of your gums.

Fixed appliance
Any orthodontic component that is cemented or bonded to the teeth.

Flared teeth
A term used to indicate the position of the teeth. The upper teeth are flared lingually (toward the lip).

Full orthodontic treatment
Getting braces.

Impressions
The first step in making a model of your teeth. You bite into a container filled with algenate, and the algenate hardens to produce a mold of your teeth.

Inclination
Angle of the long axis of a tooth from a particular line of reference; the tilt or tip of a tooth.

Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontic treatment usually done when you are 6-8. The objective of interceptive orthodontic treatment is to expand your palate and make other corrections, so that your later orthodontic treatment goes quicker and is less painful.

Interocclusal registration
A wax bite which is used to see how your teeth come together

Interproximal stripping
Reduction of the enamel of the teeth on both sides of the tooth. This procedure is preformed to create space for crowded teeth.

Intrusion
Movement of a tooth back into the bone.

Ligation
A process where an archwire is attached to the brackets on your teeth.

Ligating
An adjective used to describe components used to attach archwires to brackets. For example a ligating module is a small plastic piece that goes over the brackets to hold in

your archwires.

Lingual appliances
Orthodontic appliance fixed to the inside of your teeth. i.e. Lingual appliances are attached to the part of your teeth next to your tongue.

Lingual arch
An orthodontic wire attached from molar to molar in the inside of your teeth.

Lingual retainers
A variation of the lingual arch going from cuspids to cuspid.

Malocclusion
Poor positioning of your teeth.

Class I Malocclusion
A Malocclusion where your bite is OK (your top teeth line up with your bottom teeth) but your teeth are crooked, crowded or turned.

Class II Malocclusion
A Malocclusion where your upper teeth stick out past your lower teeth. This is also called an “overbite” or “buck teeth”

Orthodontic Terms

Appliance
Anything the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move your teeth or to change the shape of your jaw

Arch Wire
A metal wire which is attached to your brackets to move your teeth.

Band
A metal ring that is usually placed on you teeth to hold on parts of your braces

Bracket
A metal or ceramic part that is glued onto a tooth and serves as a means of fastening the arch wire.

Breakaway
A breakaway is a small plastic piece with an internal spring which is used to provide force on a facebow.

Buccal Tube
A small metal part that is welded on the ourside of a molar bank. The buccal tube contains a slots to hold archwires, lip bumpers, facebows and other things your orthodontist uses to move your teeth.

Chain, Orthodontic Chain
A stretchable plastic chain used to hold archwires into brackets and to moke teeth.

Facebow, Headgear
Facebows are wire apparatus used to move your upper molars back in your mouth which creates room for crowded or protrusive anterior teeth. Generally, the facebow consists of two metal parts which have been attached together. The inner part is shaped like a horseshoe. This part goes in your mouth and is connected to your buccal tubes. The outer part has two curves. The curves go around your face, and connect to the breakaways or high pull headgear. To properly use the product, the inner bow needs to be inserted into your buccal tubes. An elastic neck band is placed around the back of the neck while the triangular cast offs on both sides of neck band are attached to the outer bow of the headgear. Completing the apparatus is a plastic safety strap that is placed over the neck band and onto the outer bow of the headgear.

Ligating Module
A small plastic piece, shaped like a donut, which is used to hold the arch wires in the brackets on your teeth.

Lip Bumper
A lip bumper is used to push the molars on your lower jaw back to create more space for other teeth. The lip bumper conists of an arch wire which is attached to a molded piece of plastic. You mount the arch wire in the buccal tubes on your lower jaw, and plastic piece rests against your lips. When you eat or talk, you push the plastic piece back which pushes on your molars. That pushes your molars back.

Mouthguard
A device that is used to protect your mouth from injury when you are participating in sports. The use of a mouthguard is especially important for orthodontic patients, to prevent injuries.

Neck Pad
A neckpad is a cloth covered cushion which you wear around your neck when you put on your facebow. Generally, the breakaways are attached to the neckpad to provide force for the facebow.

Palatal Expander
A device used to make your jaw wider

Retainer
A gadget that the orthodontist gives you to wear after the orthodntist removes your braces. The retainer attaches to your upper teeth and holds them in the correct position. You wear the retainer at night to make sure that none of your teeth move while your jaw hardens and your teeth get strongly attached to your jaw.

Safety Strap
A plastic strap which prevents a facebow from coming loose and hurting you.

Seperator
A plastic or metal part which the orthodontist uses to create space between your teeth for bands.

Wax
A clear wax used to prevent your braces from irritating your lips when your braces are first put on, or at other times.

The Orthodontists Tools

Band Remover
A special plier which the orthodontist uses to remove bands from your teeth

Bite Stick
A device the orthodontist uses to help put on your bands. The orthodontist puts the band in place, then asks you to bite down on the bite stick to help push the band in place.

Cephalometric Viewer
An x-ray viewer

Cheek Retractors
Small plastic pieces used to draw back your lips and cheeks so the orthodontist can more easily see you teeth and work in your mouth.

Curing Light
A special UV light used to help attach brackets to your teeth

Distal End Cutter
A special plier used to cut off the ends of your arch wires.

Explorer
A hook-like fine pointed instrument used in examining the teeth.

Interproximal Stripper
A device used to remove some of the enamel from the spaces between your teeth. The stripper is used to create extra space for crowded teeth.

Mathieu Plier
A special plier which locks when it closes so it holds on to small parts.

Pin and Ligature Cutter
A special plier use to cur off arch wires, ligatures etc.

Scaler
A tool with a curved hook on one end. The orthodontist uses the scaler to remove excess cement, and check for gaps.

Twirl On
A device used to help place ligating modules on brackets.

Bad Breath

Bruxism

Brushing Teeth Properly

Flossing Teeth

Regular Dental Exams

Floride Facts

Tooth Sealants

Nutrition Health Tips

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