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Glossary of Terms

Source: American Dental Association

Dr. Orobitg wants you to understand the terms associated with your dental health. Education is very important to us, and we encourage you to ask questions about anything involved in your dental care you might not understand.

Abrasion

Tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing such as holding objects between the teeth or improper brushing.

Abscess

An infection of a tooth, the oral soft tissues, or the upper or lower jawbones.

Abutment

A tooth (or implant) that supports a dental prosthesis.

Allograft

Transplant within the same species from one individual to a genetically different recipient.

Alveolar Bone

The part of the jaw that surround the roots of the teeth.

Alveolar Mucosa

The loosely attached mucous membrane covering the basal part of the jaw and continuing into the floor of the mouth inwardly and into the cheek vestibule outwardly.

Alveolar Process

The curving part of the jaw into which the teeth are rooted.

Alveolus

The socket in the alveolar bone into which the tooth’s root fits.

Amalgam

An alloy used in direct dental restorations.

Analgesia

Loss of pain sensations without loss of consciousness.

Anesthesia

  • General Anesthesia: A controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete loss of protective reflexes, including loss of ability to independently maintain airway and respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command, produced by a pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic method or combination thereof;
  • Intravenous Sedation/Analgesia: A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient’s airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes intravenous administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) and appropriate monitoring.
  • Local Anesthesia: The loss of pain sensation over a specific area of the anatomy without loss of consciousness.
  • Non-Intravenous Conscious Sedation: A medically controlled state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient’s airway, protective reflexes and the ability to respond to stimulation or verbal commands. It includes administration of sedative and/or analgesic agent(s) by a route other than IV; (PO, PR, Intranasal, IM) and appropriate monitoring.
  • Regional Anesthesia: A term used for local anesthesia. See Local Anesthesia.

Ankylosis

A condition where two hard tissues are fused together.

Anterior Teeth

The six upper or six lower front teeth.

Antibiotic

A drug that prevents or slows bacterial growth.

ANUG

An acronym for Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, commonly known as trench mouth, where the gums become red, swollen and painful due to a spirochete infection.

Apex

The tip of the root of a tooth.

Apicoectomy

The surgical removal of the root tip to treat a dead nerve.

Attached Gingiva

The dense gum tissue tightly bound down to the tooth and underlying bone that extends from the gum margin to the alveolar mucosa.

Benign

The mild character of an illness or the non-malignant character of a neoplasm.

Bicuspid

A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.

Bifurcation (trifurcation)

The juncture of two (three) roots in posterior teeth, primarily molars.

Bilateral

Occurring on, or pertaining to, both right and left sides.

Biopsy

Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.

Bite (occlusion)

The relationship of the upper and lower teeth when closed together.

Bitewings

X-rays that show both the upper and lower teeth in one view, generally used to detect decay.

Bleaching

A cosmetic dental procedure that whitens the teeth using a bleaching solution.

Bonding

A composite resin applied to a tooth to change its shape and/or color. Bonding also refers to how a filling, orthodontic appliance or some fixed partial dentures are attached to teeth.

Bone Resorption

A decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth, generally caused by periodontal disease.

Bridge

A fixed dental appliance that is cemented or bonded to the teeth adjacent to a space, and which replaces one or more missing teeth.

Bruxism

Constant grinding or clenching of teeth during the day or while asleep.

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