Dental Glossary | Orthodontic Glossary

Dental Glossary

-A-
Abscess – infection caused by severe tooth decay, trauma or gum disease.
Amalgam – a silver and mercury material used for fillings.
Anesthetic – a drug used by your doctor to eliminate a patient’s localized pain during certain dental procedures.
Anterior – the teeth in the front of your mouth.
Antiseptic – an agent that can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.
Apex – the very tip of the root of a tooth.
Aspirator – a suction device your dentist uses to remove saliva from your mouth.

-B-
Bleaching Agent – a gel used to whiten and brighten teeth.
Bonding – a plastic composite painted on the teeth to correct stains or damage.
Bridge – one or more artificial teeth attached to your adjacent teeth.
Bruxism – the clenching or grinding of teeth, most commonly while sleeping.

-C-
Calculus – the hardened plaque that can form on teeth, commonly known as tartar.
Canine – the pointy teeth just behind the laterals.
Caries – another name for cavities or decayed teeth.
Cavity – a tiny hole in the tooth caused by decay.
Central – the two upper and two lower teeth in the center of the mouth.
Crown – an artificial tooth or cover made of porcelain or metal.
Cuspid – the pointy teeth just behind the laterals, also known as canines.

-D-
Decalcification – the loss of calcium from the teeth.
Deciduous Teeth – also called “baby teeth.”
Dental Implants – an implant permanently attached to the jawbone that replaces a missing tooth or teeth.
Denture – a removable set of artificial teeth.

-E-
Enamel – the hard surface of the tooth above the gum line.
Extraction – the removal of a tooth or teeth.

-F-
Filling – a plug made of metal or composite material used to fill a tooth cavity.
Fluoride – a chemical solution used to harden teeth and prevent decay.

-G-
Gingivitis – inflammation of gums around the roots of the teeth.
Gums – the firm flesh that surrounds the roots of the teeth.

-I-
Impacted Tooth – often occurring with wisdom teeth, it is a tooth that sits sideways below the gum line, often requiring extraction.
Incisal – related to incisors (see below).
Incisor – one of the flat, sharp-edged teeth in the front of the mouth.
Inlays – a custom-made filling cemented into an unhealthy tooth.
Instant Orthodontics – alternative to braces using bonded porcelain veneers or crowns.

-L-
Lateral – these are the teeth adjacent to the centrals.

-N-
Night Guard – a plastic mouthpiece worn at night to prevent grinding of the teeth. Often used to treat TMJ.

-P-
Pedodontist – also known as a pediatric dentist, a dentist that specializes in the treatment of children’s teeth.
Periodontist – a dentist specializing in the treatment of gum disease.
Plaque – a sticky buildup of acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Posterior Teeth – the teeth in the back of the mouth.
Primary Teeth – also known as “baby teeth” or deciduous teeth.

-R-
Root – the portion of the tooth below your gum line.
Root Canal – cleaning out and filling the inside nerve of a tooth that is heavily decayed.

-S-
Sealant – plastic coating applied to teeth to prevent decay. Used most commonly for children.
Secondary Teeth – the permanent teeth.
Six-Year Molar – commonly known as “the first molar.”
Sleep Apnea – a potentially serious disorder in which a sleeping person may stop breathing for 10 seconds or more, often continuously throughout the night.

-T-
Tartar – see calculus.
TMJ Syndrome – a disorder associated with the joint of the jaw. Often caused by a misalignment of or a disparity in upper and lower jaw sizes.
Tooth Whitening – a process designed to whiten and brighten teeth.
Twelve-Year Molar – commonly known as “the second molar.”

-V-
Veneer – a plastic, porcelain or composite material used to improve the attractiveness of a stained or damaged tooth.

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Orthodontic Glossary

archwire
A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.

band (orthodontic)
A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.

bracket
An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.

ceramic brackets
Crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear synthetic sapphire brackets that are aesthetically more attractive than conventional metal attachments.

crowding
Dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.

debanding
The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

elastics (rubber bands)
Used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band and upper ball hook). Found in numerous colors for better appearance.

gingiva
The tissue that surrounds the teeth, consisting of a fibrous tissue that is continuous with the periodontal ligament and mucosal covering.

headgear
Generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back side of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.

Herbst appliance
Fixed or removable appliance designed commonly for overbite problems and more.

imaging
The process of acquiring representations of structures in either two or three dimensions.

lingual
Of or pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.

lingual appliances
Orthodontic appliances fixed to the lingual surface of the teeth.

maxillary
Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. May be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.

orthognathic surgery
Surgery to alter relationships of teeth and/or supporting bones, usually accomplished in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.

overbite
Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.

radiograph
A permanent image, typically on film, produced by ionizing radiation. Sometimes called an X-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.

retainer
Any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.

retention
The passive treatment period following active orthodontic correction during which retaining appliances may be used.

straight wire appliance
A variation of the edgewise appliance in which brackets are angulated to minimize multiple archwire bends. Brackets and molar tubes have specific orientation in three planes of space.

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