Dental Glossary

Table of Contents


Dental abrasion is the wear of tooth enamel due to mechanical forces such as toothbrushing with excessive force or using abrasive toothpaste. 

Example: Brushing teeth vigorously with a hard-bristle toothbrush can lead to enamel abrasion.

Absorbent Paper Points 

Absorbent paper points are small, sterile cones used in endodontics to dry and clean the root canals after irrigation. They absorb excess moisture and disinfect the area.

Example: After irrigation, absorbent paper points are inserted into the root canals to remove any remaining moisture.


Alveoloplasty is a surgical procedure to reshape the alveolar bone after tooth extraction, making it more suitable for dental prosthetics like dentures. 

Example: Following a tooth extraction, alveoloplasty is performed to prepare the jawbone for a dental implant.

Amalgam Tattoo

 An amalgam tattoo is a dark area on the oral mucosa caused by the accidental deposition of dental amalgam particles. It is typically harmless but may be mistaken for a more serious condition. 

Example: An amalgam tattoo may occur if amalgam material accidentally embeds into the gum tissue during a dental filling procedure.



Ameloblasts are specialized cells that form enamel during tooth development, playing a vital role in enamel structure and strength. 

Example: Ameloblasts are responsible for secreting enamel, the outermost layer of the tooth.


Amelogenesis is the process of enamel formation during tooth development. It involves the deposition of enamel matrix by ameloblast cells. 

Example: Amelogenesis occurs in the early stages of tooth development, resulting in the formation of enamel.


Ankylosis in dentistry refers to the fusion of a tooth root to the jawbone, inhibiting tooth movement. It can lead to the loss of the affected tooth. 

Example: Ankylosis can occur following dental trauma, causing the tooth to become immobile.

Antibacterial Mouthwash 

Antibacterial mouthwash is a type of oral rinse designed to reduce oral bacteria, prevent gum disease, and freshen breath. 

Example: Using an antibacterial mouthwash with chlorhexidine can help reduce bacteria in the mouth and improve oral hygiene.


An apicoectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tip of a tooth’s root, often necessary when a root canal treatment is unsuccessful. 

Example: An apicoectomy is performed when a tooth continues to be infected after a previous root canal procedure.


An articulator is a device used in prosthodontics and dental lab work to simulate the movements and positions of the jaw for precise restorative work. 

Example: Dentists use an articulator to create accurate dental prostheses that match a patient’s natural bite.

Autogenous Graft 

An autogenous graft is a bone graft that uses the patient’s own bone from one area of the body to repair or augment the jawbone. 

Example: Autogenous grafts are commonly used in dental implant surgery to enhance bone density for implant placement.


Bicuspidization is a dental procedure that involves splitting a molar into two separate bicuspid-like teeth for improved function and aesthetics. 

Example: Bicuspidization can be performed to address a molar with extensive damage.


Biofilm is a community of bacteria that forms a slimy layer on teeth, leading to plaque and dental problems if not removed through proper oral hygiene. 

Example: Neglecting to brush and floss regularly can lead to the formation of biofilm, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.



Bruxism is the habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, often occurring during sleep. It can lead to tooth wear, headaches, and jaw pain. 

Example: A nightguard may be recommended for patients with bruxism to protect their teeth from grinding during sleep.

Bruxism Splint 

A bruxism splint, or nightguard, is a dental appliance used to protect teeth from the effects of grinding or clenching during sleep. 

Example: Wearing a bruxism splint at night can help prevent tooth damage caused by bruxism.

Cantilever Bridge 

A cantilever bridge is a type of dental bridge that is supported on one side only, often used when there’s only one healthy adjacent tooth. 

Example: A cantilever bridge can be used to replace a missing tooth when there is no adjacent tooth on one side.


Caries is another term for tooth decay, resulting from the demineralization of enamel and the formation of cavities. 

Example: Poor oral hygiene and a diet high in sugary foods can contribute to the development of caries.


Cementum is a calcified tissue that covers the tooth’s roots, providing a secure anchor for periodontal ligaments. 

Example: Cementum helps anchor the tooth within the jawbone and allows for tooth support.


Composites are tooth-colored dental materials used for restorations. They provide a natural appearance and are often used for fillings and bonding. 

Example: A dentist may use composite resin to repair a chipped front tooth, creating an aesthetically pleasing restoration.


A crossbite occurs when the upper teeth are inside the lower teeth, causing misalignment. It can be corrected with orthodontic treatment. 

Example: A crossbite may result in uneven wear on the teeth and is often treated with braces or other orthodontic appliances.

Cusp of Carabelli 

The cusp of Carabelli is a small additional cusp on the back surface of some upper molars. It is a normal dental variation and may have varying sizes. 

Example: The presence or absence of the cusp of Carabelli is a common dental feature used in dental anthropology to study human populations.


A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can develop in the jawbone or soft tissues of the mouth, often requiring surgical removal. Example: A dentigerous cyst may form around an unerupted tooth, potentially causing pain and discomfort.


Dental Caries Risk Assessment 

Dental caries risk assessment is an evaluation of a patient’s susceptibility to tooth decay, which helps determine the appropriate preventive and treatment measures. 

Example: During a routine dental check-up, the dentist may assess a patient’s caries risk based on factors like oral hygiene, diet, and previous dental history.

Dental Crown Lengthening 

Dental crown lengthening is a surgical procedure that involves reshaping the gum and bone tissue to expose more of a tooth’s surface. It is commonly performed before placing a dental crown. 

Example: Crown lengthening is often performed to expose more of a tooth’s surface for the attachment of a dental crown.

Dental Erosion 

Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel due to the chemical action of acids, such as those found in acidic foods and drinks. It can lead to tooth sensitivity and cavities. 

Example: Consuming a diet high in acidic beverages like soda and fruit juices can contribute to dental erosion over time.

Dental Flipper 

A dental flipper is a removable partial denture used to replace missing teeth temporarily, often while waiting for a permanent dental restoration. 

Example: A dental flipper may be used after a tooth extraction while a more permanent solution, like a dental implant, is being planned.


Dental Implant 

A dental implant is a surgical component that integrates with the jawbone to support a dental prosthesis like a crown or bridge, serving as a replacement for missing teeth.

Example: A dental implant can be used to replace a single missing tooth, providing stability and function.

Dental Onlay 

A dental onlay is a larger restoration that covers more of a tooth’s surface than an inlay, often extending over the cusp tips. It is used to repair extensive tooth damage.

Example: A dental onlay may be recommended to restore a molar with a large cavity that a traditional filling cannot effectively repair.

Dental Pulp 

Dental pulp is the soft, innermost part of a tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. It can become infected or damaged, requiring treatment. 

Example: Dental pulp provides nourishment and sensory functions to the tooth.

Dental Sutures 

Dental sutures are stitches used to close incisions and surgical sites in the mouth after various dental procedures, such as extractions and oral surgery.

Example: After a tooth extraction, dissolvable dental sutures are used to close the surgical site and aid in healing.

Dental X-ray 

A dental X-ray is a diagnostic image that provides detailed information about teeth, bones, and oral structures. It is used for diagnosis and treatment planning. 

Example: Dental X-rays are commonly used to detect cavities, assess bone health, and plan orthodontic treatment.


A diastema is a gap or space between two teeth, commonly occurring between the upper front teeth. 

Example: Some people seek dental treatment to close a diastema for cosmetic reasons.

Digital Dentures 

Digital dentures are prosthetic dental appliances created using advanced digital technology, offering precise fit and aesthetics. 

Example: Digital dentures are custom-designed for each patient using digital impressions and computer-aided design.

Digital Impressions 

Digital impressions involve using digital scanning technology to create highly accurate, 3D models of a patient’s teeth and oral structures, eliminating the need for traditional impressions. 

Example: Digital impressions make the process of obtaining accurate dental records faster and more comfortable for patients.

Dry Socket 

Dry socket is a painful condition that can occur after tooth extraction when the blood clot in the socket dissolves or is dislodged prematurely. 

Example: A patient who experiences severe, throbbing pain in the days following a tooth extraction may be diagnosed with dry socket.


Edentulism is the condition of having no natural teeth remaining, often requiring the use of complete dentures. 

Example: Complete dentures are used to restore oral function and aesthetics in individuals with edentulism.

Endodontic Retreatment

Endodontic retreatment is a procedure in which a previously treated tooth undergoes a second root canal treatment to address unresolved issues or recurrent infection. 

Example: If a tooth that had a root canal becomes painful or infected again, endodontic retreatment may be necessary.

Endosteal Implant 

An endosteal implant is a type of dental implant that is surgically placed into the jawbone to support artificial teeth. 

Example: Endosteal implants are commonly used for single-tooth replacements and implant-supported dentures.

Enamel Hypoplasia 

Enamel hypoplasia is a developmental condition that results in incomplete enamel formation, leaving teeth susceptible to damage and sensitivity. 

Example: Enamel hypoplasia can result in teeth that are more prone to cavities and wear.


Enameloplasty is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that involves reshaping and contouring tooth enamel to improve aesthetics. 

Example: Enameloplasty can be used to smooth out irregularities in tooth shape and create a more uniform appearance.


Eruption refers to the emergence of a tooth from the jaw into the oral cavity. It is a natural process that occurs during dental development. 

Example: The eruption of permanent molars typically occurs around the age of 6.

Fissure Sealant 

A fissure sealant is a protective coating applied to the pits and fissures of molars and premolars to prevent cavities. 

Example: Fissure sealants are often applied to the chewing surfaces of children’s molars to protect them from decay.


Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay. It is commonly found in toothpaste and drinking water. 

Example: Fluoride in toothpaste helps protect teeth by making the enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria.


A frenectomy is a surgical procedure to remove or adjust the frenulum, the fold of tissue that connects the lips, tongue, or cheeks to the jaw. It can improve oral function and speech. 

Example: A lingual frenectomy may be performed to correct tongue-tie in infants to improve breastfeeding.


Full Mouth Rehabilitation 

Full mouth rehabilitation involves extensive dental treatment to restore function, aesthetics, and oral health across all teeth. 

Example: Full mouth rehabilitation may include a combination of restorative procedures, orthodontics, and cosmetic treatments to address various dental issues.


A gingivectomy is a surgical procedure to remove excess or diseased gum tissue, often used to treat gum disease. 

Example: A gingivectomy may be performed to eliminate pockets of diseased gum tissue and improve periodontal health.


Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease characterized by redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums. It is often reversible with proper oral hygiene. 

Example: Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can prevent gingivitis.


Gingivoplasty is a surgical procedure that reshapes and contours the gums for aesthetic or functional reasons. 

Example: Gingivoplasty may be performed to create a more even gumline for cosmetic purposes.


A dental inlay is a type of indirect dental restoration made from materials like porcelain or gold. It is used to fill cavities and provide structural support to the tooth. 

Example: A porcelain inlay can be used to repair a moderately-sized cavity in a molar.

Intraoral Camera 

An intraoral camera is a small, handheld device that allows dentists to capture high-resolution images of the inside of the mouth for diagnostics and patient education. 

Example: Dentists use intraoral cameras to show patients images of their teeth and explain treatment options.

Lingual Braces 

Lingual braces are orthodontic appliances attached to the back (lingual) side of the teeth, making them less visible than traditional braces. 

Example: Lingual braces are often chosen by individuals who want a discreet orthodontic treatment option.


Malocclusion is a misalignment of the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are closed. It can result in bite problems and may require orthodontic treatment.

Example: Crossbite and overbite are common types of malocclusion that can impact oral function.

Mandibular Advancement Device

 A mandibular advancement device is a type of dental appliance used in sleep medicine to treat snoring and sleep apnea. 

Example: Individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea may benefit from using a mandibular advancement device to improve airflow during sleep.


Mandibular Tori 

Mandibular tori are bony growths on the lower jaw, often asymptomatic but may require removal for various reasons. 

Example: Mandibular tori may be discovered during a dental examination and may not require treatment unless they cause discomfort or interfere with dental appliances.


Microdontia is a condition characterized by abnormally small teeth. It may require dental treatment to improve function and appearance. 

Example: A patient with microdontia may opt for dental veneers to increase the size and aesthetics of their teeth.


Odontogenesis is the process of tooth development from the initiation of tooth buds to the eruption of teeth into the oral cavity. 

Example: Odontogenesis begins with the formation of tooth buds in the developing jaw.


Odontoplasty is a dental procedure that involves reshaping and contouring teeth for functional or aesthetic reasons. 

Example: Odontoplasty can be performed to remove sharp edges or uneven surfaces on teeth.

Occlusal Adjustment 

Occlusal adjustment is a dental procedure to correct the bite’s alignment by reshaping the biting surfaces of teeth. 

Example: An occlusal adjustment may involve grinding down high spots on the teeth to achieve a more even bite.

Occlusal Splint 

An occlusal splint is a dental device worn on the upper or lower teeth to treat bruxism (teeth grinding) or temporomandibular joint disorders. 

Example: A dentist may recommend wearing an occlusal splint at night to alleviate the symptoms of bruxism.

Odontogenic Cyst

 An odontogenic cyst is a cyst that forms from tissues related to tooth development. It can vary in size and often requires surgical removal. 

Example: A dentigerous cyst is a common type of odontogenic cyst that may develop around an impacted tooth.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist 

An oral and maxillofacial radiologist is a dental specialist who interprets radiographic images of the head and neck to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning. 

Example: An oral and maxillofacial radiologist may analyze a CBCT scan to help plan for oral surgery.

Oral Antral Fistula 

An oral antral fistula is an abnormal opening between the oral cavity and the maxillary sinus. It can result from dental procedures or infections. 

Example: An oral antral fistula may occur after a tooth extraction, allowing communication between the mouth and the sinus.


Oral Biopsy 

An oral biopsy is the surgical removal and examination of tissue from the mouth to diagnose oral diseases or abnormalities, such as oral cancer. 

Example: If a suspicious lesion is found in the mouth, an oral biopsy may be performed to determine if it is cancerous.

Oral Candidiasis 

Oral candidiasis, also known as oral thrush, is a fungal infection of the mouth’s mucous membranes. It can lead to white patches and discomfort. 

Example: Oral candidiasis is commonly seen in infants, individuals with weakened immune systems, and those taking certain medications.

Oral Health Assessment 

An oral health assessment is an evaluation of a patient’s oral health status, often conducted during a dental check-up. 

Example: During an oral health assessment, a dentist may check for cavities, gum disease, and signs of oral cancer.

Oral Lesion 

An oral lesion is an abnormal, typically painful, sore or lump in the mouth, which may be benign or require medical attention. 

Example: Canker sores are a common type of oral lesion that can cause discomfort but are generally not serious.

Oral Mucosa 

The oral mucosa is the moist, soft tissue lining the inside of the mouth, including the cheeks, lips, and tongue. 

Example: The oral mucosa is essential for speech, chewing, and swallowing.

Oral Pathologist 

An oral pathologist is a dental specialist who diagnoses and treats diseases of the mouth and oral cavity, including oral cancer. 

Example: An oral pathologist may examine biopsy samples to diagnose oral conditions.

Orofacial Pain

 Orofacial pain refers to discomfort or pain experienced in the mouth, jaw, and face, often associated with dental issues. 

Example: Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can cause orofacial pain and may require treatment to alleviate symptoms.

Orthognathic Surgery 

Orthognathic surgery is a procedure to correct severe jaw misalignments that cannot be treated with orthodontics alone. 

Example: Orthognathic surgery may be recommended to address an underbite or overbite that affects function and aesthetics.


Osseointegration is the process by which dental implants fuse with the jawbone, providing a stable foundation for artificial teeth. 

Example: After dental implant placement, osseointegration allows the implant to become a sturdy anchor for a prosthetic tooth.


A pulpotomy is a dental procedure to remove the pulp from the crown portion of a tooth while preserving the pulp in the root to maintain tooth vitality. 

Example: A pulpotomy may be performed in primary (baby) teeth to save the tooth and prevent infection from spreading.


Radiolucent refers to substances that allow X-rays to pass through, appearing dark on X-ray images, often used to describe certain oral conditions. 

Example: Dental caries and abscesses appear radiolucent on X-ray images, as X-rays pass through the decayed or infected areas.

Salivary Gland 

Stones Salivary gland stones, also known as sialoliths, are calcified deposits in the salivary glands that can block the flow of saliva. 

Example: A salivary gland stone can cause swelling, pain, and difficulty in saliva flow from the affected gland.

Sleep Apnea 

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. It can be treated with dental devices and lifestyle changes. 

Example: A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device or mandibular advancement device may be used to manage sleep apnea.


Space Maintainer 

A space maintainer is a dental appliance used to keep space open in the mouth after a baby tooth is lost, preventing crowding issues. 

Example: A space maintainer may be used in pediatric dentistry to preserve space for permanent teeth to erupt properly.


A stomatologist is a dental specialist who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mouth and oral cavity diseases and conditions. 

Example: A stomatologist may provide treatment for oral infections, lesions, and other oral health issues.

Sublingual Gland 

The sublingual gland is one of the major salivary glands located beneath the tongue, producing saliva to aid in digestion. 

Example: The sublingual gland secretes saliva into the mouth, helping with the initial stages of digestion and oral lubrication.

Teeth Whitening 

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that uses bleaching agents to lighten the color of teeth, improving their appearance. 

Example: Professional teeth whitening can significantly brighten teeth, removing stains and discoloration.


Teledentistry is the practice of providing dental care and consultations remotely through digital technology, allowing patients to receive advice and treatment guidance. 

Example: Teledentistry may involve virtual consultations with a dentist for initial assessments and treatment planning.

Tongue Tie 

A tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition in which the tissue beneath the tongue restricts its movement, potentially affecting speech and oral function. 

Example: A simple surgical procedure called a frenectomy can be performed to release the tongue tie and improve tongue movement.

Tooth Extraction Complications 

Tooth extraction complications may include infection, dry socket, or nerve injury, which can require additional treatment. 

Example: A dry socket is a common complication following tooth extraction, causing severe pain and discomfort.


A torus is a bony growth or lump that can develop in the mouth, typically on the palate or inside the cheeks. It is generally harmless but may require removal if it interferes with dental appliances or causes discomfort. 

Example: A palatal torus may be surgically removed if it prevents the proper fit of a denture.

Vital Pulp Therapy 

Vital pulp therapy involves treating a tooth with a damaged or exposed pulp to preserve its vitality and avoid the need for a root canal. 

Example: Vital pulp therapy may be performed in cases of dental trauma or when a pulp exposure is small and not yet infected.


Xerostomia Relief 

Xerostomia relief involves treatments to alleviate the discomfort of dry mouth, such as using artificial saliva products. 

Example: A patient with xerostomia may use saliva substitutes or chewing gum to alleviate dry mouth symptoms.


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