Creating Smiles One Child at a Time

Judy Christianson, DDS

Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry

Dental Glossary Of Terms

Abscess – infection caused by severe tooth decay, trauma or gum disease.
Amalgam – a metal-based 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.


Bleaching Agent – a gel used to whiten and brighten teeth.
Bonding – a plastic composite material applied 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.


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  hole in the tooth caused by decay.
Central – the two upper and two lower teeth in the center of the mouth.
Composite – a plastic resin material that is tooth-colored, used in the restoration of teeth.
Crown – an artificial tooth or cover made of porcelain, composite or metal.
Cuspid – the pointy teeth just behind the laterals, also known as canines.


Decalcification – the loss of calcium from the teeth which causes white chalky areas on the surface of the teeth
Deciduous Teeth – also called “baby teeth” or “primary teeth.”
Dental Implant – a device permanently attached to the jawbone that replaces a missing tooth or teeth.
Dentin – the hard inner surface of the tooth which lies between the enamel and pulp.
Denture – a removable set of artificial teeth.


Enamel – the hard outer surface of the tooth above the gum line.
Endodontist – a dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases and infections of the dental pulp (inner tooth).
Extraction – the removal of a tooth or teeth.


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


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


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); the flat edge of the incisor teeth.
Incisor – one of the flat, sharp-edged teeth in the front of the mouth.
Inlays – a custom-made filling cemented into an unhealthy permanent tooth.


Lateral – these are the teeth adjacent to the centrals.


Mouth Guard – a plastic cover worn over the teeth and gums as protection from injury by people involved in contact sports.


Pediatric Dentist – a dentist that specializes in the treatment of children’s  and adolescents’ teeth and has completed an additional two to three year course of study in pediatric dentistry.
Periodontist – a dentist specializing in the treatment of gum disease.
Plaque – a sticky buildup of acids and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.
Posterior Teeth – the teeth in the back of the mouth.
Primary Teeth – also known as “baby teeth” or “deciduous teeth.”
Prosthodontist – a dentist specializing in the restoration and replacement of missing teeth or severely damaged teeth.
Pulpotomy – the removal of a portion of the pulp (nerve) with the intent of maintaining the vitality of the remaining nerve tissue, by means of a medicated dressing.


Root – the portion of the tooth below the gum line.
Root Canal – removal of the pulp tissue of a tooth and then restoration of the resulting “canal.”


Sealant – plastic coating applied to teeth to prevent decay. Used most commonly for children and adolescents.
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.
Space Maintainer – an orthodontic appliance that is cemented to prevent adjacent teeth from moving into the space left by a prematurely lost tooth.


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.”


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

Dental Glossary Of Terms


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