Dental Dictionary

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Confused by terms and words which your Dentist uses? When we make Dental Negligence Claims for clients these words and terms are regularly used by the team of Dental Surgeons we use.  Dentistry is a complicated area with some baffling words so we’ve created a handy Dental Dictionary for you in alphabetical order:

Dental Dictionary

Abutment (retainer) – Supporting part of a bridge.

Acid etch – A procedure for bonding fillings or other dental restorations to a tooth by means of chemical bonding.

Adhesive bridge – Tooth replacement by means of bridgework where the missing tooth (pontic) is kept in place by two “wings” glued to adjacent teeth. This type of bridge requires minimal tooth preparation but is less retentive than the prepared bridge where adjacent teeth are crowned.

Alvogel – A material placed in a post extraction socket to treat infection (dry socket).

Amalgam core – This is a core of amalgam placed in a tooth and used to support a crown.

Apexit – Root canal sealer.

Apical area – The area around the tooth apex. An area of translucency may indicate bone loss caused by infection.

Apicoectomy – A surgical procedure that can be used in cases of failing root treatments or where it is impossible to access the root canal. It involves removing the root apex by a surgical approach.

Aquacem – A dental cement.

Articulating Paper – Blue or red paper that is placed between the teeth to show high spots.

Articulator – A device that reproduces the way teeth meet and move.

Biteguard – Plastic shield used to protect teeth from stress, usually worn at night.

Bite raising appliance – This is an appliance usually of a removable design that covers the biting surfaces of the teeth and separates them. It assists with the relief of TMJ problems.

Bitewing – Small radiograph showing the biting surfaces of the teeth.

Bonded Crown BPC – A crown consisting of a gold shell overlaid with porcelain to give an aesthetic appearance.

Bone Augmentation – The addition of bone or a grafting material to increase the depth of bone prior to implant surgery.

BPE (CPITN) – Basic periodontal index. The BPE score is a measurement on a scale of 0-4 of the health of the gingival and periodontal tissues around the teeth. A scale of 0 indicates absence of disease while a score of 1 is the lowest score which records the presence of disease around any tooth in the sextant and implies that at some site there was evidence of bleeding after gentle probing but there was no pocketing present deeper than 3 mm. Scores higher than 2 are indicative of more severe levels of disease.

Bridgework – The replacement of a missing tooth by means of fixing a false tooth (pontic) to crowns fixed to adjacent teeth (abutments).

Buccal – Outer side away from the centre of the mouth.

Cantilever Bridge – This term refers to a false tooth (pontic) where only one tooth (abutment) acts as a support.

Carious exposure – Where the decay has entered the pulp (nerve) of a tooth. This will lead to an infection.

Cavit – Temporary filling material.

Cervical – The marginal edge (of a crown).

Chemfil – A dental material used for aesthetic fillings.

Chrome cobalt (denture) – This is a denture that is of a skeleton design made in chrome cobalt. It is stronger and more comfortable to wear than a plastic type denture and less harmful to gum tissues.

Chronic adult periodontitis – This is a breakdown of the periodontal tissues caused by a combination of infection and inflammation of gingivitis into the deep tissues of the periodontal membrane. It is characterised by breakdown of periodontal fibre bundles at the cervical margin, resorption of alveolar bone and apical proliferation of junctional epithelium beyond the amelocemental junction. The progression does not take place in a linea fashion but varies in speed of breakdown not only between individuals but also within different sites in the mouth. It also occurs quite often in bursts of activity followed by quiescent phases. Diagnosis is based on probing to elicit bleeding, measurement of pocket depths (which is the gap between the gum and the attachment to the tooth surface measured in millimetres) and radiographs are also used to check bone levels. Treatment is by fine scaling, root planing, local medicaments, careful attention to oral hygiene, various advanced forms of surgical correction are also often used.

Chronic marginal gingivitis – Where there is chronic inflammation of the gum margins around the teeth.

Class One (occlusion) – Refers to a normal biting pattern between upper and lower teeth.

Close Bite – Where the opposing teeth are in tight contact, usually applied to the upper and lower front teeth.

Composite – White filling material.

Core – Used to build up a broken down tooth to receive a crown.

Coronal – Towards the crown of a tooth.

Corsodyl – Antiseptic mouth rinse.

Cresophene – A formaldehyde containing material, used in root canal treatments for disinfection purposes, but now being replaced by less astringent substitutes.

Crown – Cap.

CT Scan – A sectional x ray scan used mainly in implant diagnostic procedures.

Deciduous – First or “baby” teeth.

Dentatus screw post – A post made of a brass like material often used for supporting temporary crowns.

Dentine – The tooth structure covered by the tooth enamel, it is less dense than enamel and less resistant to decay.

Diastema – Gap between front teeth.

Difflam – Antiseptic and anti inflammatory mouth rinse.

Distal – Towards the back of the mouth.

DO – A filling extending across the top and back of a tooth.

Dry Socket – This is a condition that can occur after an extraction leading to a painful infection in the tooth socket.

Duraphat – Varnish used to desensitise teeth.

Durelon – Permanent dental cement.

Dycal – Sedative cement lining material used under a filling.

Dyract – Temporary filling material

Elevator – Dental instrument used to assist in the extraction of teeth or often roots by loosening them.

Endomethasone – A formaldehyde material used in root fillings, it is irritant if it goes through the root apex and although widely used by general dentists, it is not used by endodontists for this reason.

Exposure – A term applied to the penetration into the pulp of the tooth either by the progress of untreated decay or the dental drill.

Fissure sealing – The filling of the crevices in the surface of a premolar or molar tooth with a filling material, this helps prevent decay starting.

Flagyl – Antibiotic specifically used in gum infections.

Fuji Cement – used for permanently cementing crowns and bridges.

Full Lower – A complete lower denture where all the teeth have been extracted.

Furcation – The area where the roots divide in a tooth. If bone levels are at the furcation area the prognosis for a tooth is questionable.

Gingivectomy – Removal of gum pocket or excess gum surgically.

Glass Ionomer – Restorative material that can be used as a lining under fillings or as a filling material in positions where compressive or abrasive forces are light.

GP – Gutta percha used to obturate root canals.

Hemisectomy – Removal of the (infected) root of a multi rooted tooth.

Hypocal – A material widely used for sterilising the root canal, it contains calcium hydroxide.

Hypoplasia – Developmental defect of the teeth. Often manifests itself as spots or discoloured areas on the teeth.

Incisal – Biting edge of an anterior tooth.

Inferior Dental Canal – This is a canal in the lower jaw (mandible) in which the inferior dental nerve runs and supplies the lower teeth and lip.

Inlay/onlay – A gold filling.

Immediate denture – A technique where teeth are extracted and a denture is immediately fitted in the mouth.

Implant – A false root usually made of titanium which is inserted into the jawbone, where it integrates with the bone and can be used to carry a crown or bridgework.

Integrated (osseo integration) – This refers to the bonding of an implant to the jaw bone.

Intra oral – Small radiograph of the teeth.

Kalsogen (Kalzinol) – Temporary filling material.

Lateral perio abscess – An abscess on the side of the root of a tooth.

Ledermix – Used as a sedative dressing.

Legend – Material used for cementation or filling purposes.

Lingual – Towards the tongue.

Lumineers – Thin veneers that can be fitted without any preparation or minimal removal of enamel.

Mandibular nerve – The nerve that supplies the lower teeth.

Maryland adhesive bridge – This is where a false tooth is attached to adjacent teeth by means of “wings” that are glued to the adjacent teeth.

Mesial – Towards the front part of the mouth (or filling).

Metronidazole – Antibiotic commonly used to treat dental infection.

MO – A filling that goes across the top and front of a tooth.

MOD – A filling that goes across the top of a tooth and includes both the front and back part, (mesial and distal).

Mouth guard – Plastic appliance that fits over the biting surface of the teeth and protects them against trauma.

Occlusal – The top surface of the teeth.

Occlusion – The way the upper and lower teeth bite together.

Onlay – Filling or cast filling used to cover the surface of a tooth.

OPG/OPT – Scan radiograph showing upper and lower teeth and jawbone.

Oro antral fistula – Communication between the mouth and the maxillary sinus.

Orthodontic brace – An appliance that is used to correct misaligned teeth.

Overdenture – Fits over a root or retainer left in the jawbone. Used to assist in support and proprio reception.

PA – Small radiograph showing the details around the root area.

Palatal – Towards the centre line of the mouth.

Panavia – A dental cement.

Parapost – Preformed steel post used to support a crown in a root filled tooth.

Partial dentures – Dentures replacing some missing teeth as opposed to a full denture.

PBC – Porcelain covered over a gold full crown.

Periapical – Area around the apex of a tooth / small radiograph showing details of the root and tooth apex.

Pericoronitis – Infection around a partially erupted tooth.

Periodontal ligament – The connecting ligament between a tooth and the bony socket.

PGT – Prolonged gum treatment. Consists of more than one visit for scaling and polishing.

Pin – Small pin placed in a tooth to support a filling.

PJC – Porcelain jacket crown.

Pocket charting – A guide to the health of the teeth and gums by measurement of bone support around teeth.

Pocket depth – The space between the gum margin and the bone in a vertical direction. The greater the depth of a pocket the greater is the loss of supporting bone around the tooth. The measurement of a pocket in mm is used to gauge the degree of bone loss.

Poly F – Permanent cement for crowns and bridges.

Pontic – Crown replacing a missing tooth attached to an abutment tooth, (part of a bridge).

Post (crown) – Placed in a tooth root, and used to support a crown.

Post Crown – A crown that is supported by means of a post placed into the root canal of a tooth, and to which a crown can be attached.

Precision attachment – An attachment that is used to ensure a precision fit between say a tooth crown/implant etc and a denture.

Pulp (nerve) – The chamber inside a tooth consisting of a collection of blood vessels and nerve tissue.

Pulpectomy – Partial nerve removal. Procedure mainly used in deciduous teeth.

Pulpitis – Inflammation of the pulp (nerve), a possible sign of infection.

RDO – Regional dental officer.

Reline – A technique for tightening a loose denture.

Retainer (abutment) – Supporting part of a bridge.

Retention plate – An appliance used to hold teeth in position after orthodontic treatment.

Retrograde (root filling) – The sealing of the root apex of a tooth following an apicoectomy.

Root canal therapy – The removal of the nerve (pulp) from a tooth, and after cleansing and shaping the root canal, filling with an inert material.

Root Planing – A deep form of scaling where calculus (tartar) is removed from the root surface.

Rubber Dam – Sheet of rubber used to insulate the teeth from oral fluids, specifically used in root canal therapy.

Sedanol – Sedative dressing material.

Selective grinding – A procedure where the biting surfaces of the teeth are reshaped.

Sensodyne – Desensitising toothpaste.

Shimstock – Thin foil used to check contact between opposing teeth.

Sinus – Hollow cavity in the jawbone.

Soft Lining – Used to cushion the gums, it is a flexible material that is bonded to the fitting surface of a denture.

S&P – Abbreviation for scale and polish.

Spoon Denture – Small upper denture held in by suction.

Spicule – Small fragment of separated bone.

Subgingival – Below the gum margin.

Supernumerary – An extra tooth to the normal complement, usually smaller and malformed.

Supragingival – Above the gum margin.

Tempbond – Temporary cement.

Temporomandibular joint – The hinge joint between upper and lower jaws.

Transplantation – The removal of a tooth and placement in a different area of the mouth, usually a tooth socket.

TTP – Tender to percussion where a tooth is tapped to test if infection or an abscess is present.

Tubiseal – Root canal filling material.

Veneer – Shell of porcelain or plastic placed on teeth to improve the aesthetic appearance. Usually confined to the premolar and anterior teeth. Tooth preparation is usually needed.

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Ask for David Healey

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