air abrasion/micro abrasion : a drill-free technique that blasts the tooth surface with air and an abrasive. This is a relatively new technology that may avoid the need for an anesthetic and can be used to remove some tooth decay, old composite restorations and superficial stains and discolorations, and prepare a tooth surface for bonding or sealants.
amalgam : a common filling material used to repair cavities. The material, also known as "silver fillings," contains mercury in combination with silver, tin, copper, and sometimes zinc.
anesthesia : a type of medication that results in partial or complete elimination of pain sensation; numbing a tooth is an example of local anesthesia; general anesthesia produces partial or complete unconsciousness.
appliance : any removable dental restoration or orthodontic device.
bite-wing : a single X-ray that shows upper and lower teeth (from crown to about the level of the supporting bone) in a select area on the same film to check for decay in between teeth.
bonding : a process by which dental materials are mechanically attached to teeth; this would include composite resin, porcelain, and metal.
bridge : stationary dental prosthesis (appliance) fixed to teeth adjacent to a space; replaces one or more missing teeth, cemented or bonded to supporting teeth or implants adjacent to the space. Also called a fixed partial denture.
cleaning : removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) from teeth, generally above the gum line.
composite resin filling : tooth-colored restorative material. An alternative to silver amalgam fillings.
crown : (1) the portion of a tooth above the gum line that is covered by enamel; (2) dental restoration covering all or most of the natural tooth; the artificial cap can be made of porcelain, composite, or metal and is cemented on top of the damaged tooth.
deciduous teeth : commonly called "baby teeth" or primary teeth; the first set of (usually) 20 teeth.
denture : a removable or fixed replacement of artificial teeth for missing natural teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of removable dentures are available -- complete and partial. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
endodontics : a field of dentistry concerned with the biology and pathology of the dental pulp and root tissues of the tooth and with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and injuries of these tissues. Root canal therapy is a commonly performed endodontic procedure.
extraction : removal of a tooth.
filling : restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain, or resin materials.
fluoride : a mineral that helps strengthen teeth enamel making teeth less susceptible to decay. Fluoride is ingested through food or water, is available in most toothpastes , or can be applied as a gel or liquid to the surface of teeth by a dentist.
gingivectomy : surgical removal of gum tissue.
impacted tooth : a tooth that is partially or completely blocked from erupting through the surface of the gum. An impacted tooth may push other teeth together or damage the bony structures supporting the adjacent tooth. Often times, impacted teeth must be surgically removed.
implant : a metal rod (usually made of titanium) that is surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone where a tooth is missing; it serves as the tooth root and anchor for the crown, bridge, or denture that is placed over it.
inlay : similar to a filling but made outside the mouth and then cemented or bonded in. Tthe entire work lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of the tooth.
night guard : a removable appliance that fits over the upper or lower teeth used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding or gnashing of the teeth during sleep .
occlusal X-rays : an X-ray showing full tooth development and placement. Each X-ray reveals the entire arch of teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.
occlusion : the relationship of the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are closed.
onlay : a type of restoration (filling) made of metal, porcelain, or acrylic that is more extensive than an inlay in that it covers one or more cusps. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns.
oral hygiene : process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures.
orthodontics : dental specialty that using braces, retainers, and other dental devices to treat misalignment of teeth, restoring them to proper functioning.
overdenture : denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants.
panoramic X-ray : a type of X-ray that shows a complete two dimensional representation of all the teeth in the mouth. This X-ray also shows the relationship of the teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head.
partial denture : a removable appliance that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.
periapical X-rays : X-rays providing complete side views from the roots to the crowns of the teeth.
permanent teeth : the teeth that replace the deciduous or primary teeth -- also called baby teeth. There are (usually) 32 adult teeth in a complete dentition.
porcelain : a tooth-colored, glass-like material; much like enamel in appearance.
porcelain crown : all porcelain restoration covering the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum line).
porcelain inlay or onlay : tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain, cemented or bonded in place.
prosthetics : a fixed or removable appliance used to replace missing teeth (for example, bridges, partials, and dentures).
pulp : the living part of the tooth, located inside the dentin. Pulp contains the nerve tissue and blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tooth.
restorations : any replacement for lost tooth structure or teeth; for example, bridges, dentures, fillings, crowns, and implants.
root : tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw.
root canal : procedure used to save an abscessed tooth in which the pulp chamber is cleaned out, disinfected, and filled with a permanent filling.
scaling and root planing : a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure whereby plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing).
sealants : a thin, clear or white resin substance that is applied to the biting surfaces of teeth to prevent decay.
temporomandibular disorder (TMD)/temporomandibular joint (TMJ) : the term given to a problem that concerns the muscles and joint that connect the lower jaw with the skull. The condition is characterized by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw. It is often accompanied by a clicking or popping sound when the jaw is opened or closed.
X-rays : high frequency light (or radiation) that penetrates different substances with different rates and absorption. In dentistry, there are typically four types of X-rays: periapical, bite-wing, occlusal, and panoramic.
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