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Dental Dictionary


Abscess Drainage: This is a procedure typically performed by a doctor or dentist to treat an abscess, which is a pocket of pus that's formed as a result of a bacterial infection. The process involves making a small incision in the abscess, then draining out the pus to alleviate pain and eliminate the infection.

Amalgam Fillings: These are a type of dental filling used to treat tooth decay. They're made from a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Amalgam fillings are known for their durability and are often used for back teeth that need to withstand a lot of pressure from chewing.

Anesthesia Administration: Anesthesia is a medical treatment that prevents patients from feeling pain during surgery or other medical procedures. It can be given as an injection, through inhaled gases or vapors, or by intravenous (IV) insertion. The administration refers to the method in which it's given to the patient.

Apicoectomy: This is a dental procedure that's typically performed by an endodontist. It involves removing the tip of the tooth root and then sealing the root canal. It's usually done when an infection persists after a root canal treatment or retreatment.

Arch Development: This dental procedure is often used in orthodontics to widen a narrow jaw. It can be achieved through the use of orthodontic appliances, like palate expanders, which apply pressure to the teeth and jaw over time to gradually create more space.

Athletic Mouthguards: These are devices worn in the mouth during athletic activities to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums from injury. They are typically made from a durable plastic material that can be custom-fitted to the wearer's mouth.

Autotransplantation: In dentistry, this refers to the transplantation of a tooth from one site in the mouth to another. It's usually performed in cases where a tooth has been lost or needs to be removed, and a suitable donor tooth is available elsewhere in the same patient's mouth. In broader medical terms, autotransplantation can refer to the transplantation of any organ or tissue from one part of the body to another in the same individual.


Bad Breath TreatmentThis typically involves a combination of at-home oral hygiene practices and professional dental treatment. It may include a professional cleaning to remove tartar and trapped food particles, treatment for gum disease, and recommendations for products to use at home. If bad breath is due to a non-dental medical condition, treatment of that underlying condition may be necessary.

Bite Adjustment: Also known as occlusal adjustment, this dental procedure is designed to correct misaligned bites. This could involve reshaping the biting surfaces of teeth, braces, removal of teeth, or even surgery in severe cases.

Bone Grafting: This is a surgical procedure that uses transplanted bone to repair and rebuild diseased or damaged bones. In dentistry, bone grafting is often used to replace bone lost in the jaw due to periodontal disease, or to provide a stable base for dental implants.

Bonding: This is a cosmetic dental procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material is applied to the teeth and hardened with a special light, ultimately "bonding" the material to the tooth to improve a person's smile.

Braces: These are devices used in orthodontics to correct misaligned teeth and jaws. They exert constant pressure over time to gradually move teeth into alignment.

Bridges: In dentistry, a bridge is a fixed appliance that replaces missing teeth by joining an artificial tooth to adjacent teeth or dental implants. The teeth on either side of the gap are prepared as crowns to serve as supports for the bridge.

Broken Tooth Repair: This could involve several procedures depending on the severity of the break. It might involve bonding, veneers, crowns, root canal therapy, or even extraction and replacement with a dental implant or bridge.

Buccal Frenectomy: This is a minor oral surgical procedure that removes or loosens a band of muscle tissue (the frenum) connected to the cheek, which is causing a restriction in mouth function or contributing to gum recession or spaces between teeth. It's often performed in conjunction with orthodontics.


Cancer Screening: This involves procedures to detect cancer before symptoms appear. In the context of oral health, a dentist may check for signs of oral cancer as part of a regular dental exam. This could involve a visual inspection of the mouth and palpation of the jaw and neck.


Cavity Fillings: This is a common dental procedure used to treat tooth decay (cavities). The dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then "fill" the area with a material such as amalgam, composite resin, or porcelain.


Cleft Lip and Palate Repair: These are surgical procedures used to correct a cleft lip and cleft palate, which are birth defects that occur when a baby's lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. The surgeries restore function and will likely improve the child's ability to eat, speak, hear, and breathe, and may improve the child's appearance.


Cleanings: Also known as dental prophylaxis, cleanings are part of a regular dental check-up and involve the removal of dental plaque and tartar from teeth with the intention of preventing cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.


Composite Fillings: These are tooth-colored fillings that provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth.


Cosmetic Dentistry: This term refers to dental work that improves the appearance, but not necessarily the function, of a person's teeth, gums, or bite. It includes procedures like teeth whitening, veneers, bonding, and cosmetic orthodontics.


Crown Lengthening: This is a surgical procedure that recontours the gum line to expose more of the tooth's surface for a crown. It could also be done for cosmetic reasons, to correct a "gummy" smile.


Crowns: A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that's placed over a tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and improve its appearance. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.


Custom Night Guards: These are protective devices for the mouth that cover the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury from teeth grinding and clenching, or to treat temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). They are typically worn during sleep and are custom-made to fit the patient's mouth.


Dental Implants: These are artificial tooth roots, typically made of titanium, that are placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, injury, or some other reason.


Dentures: These are removable appliances that can replace missing teeth and help restore your smile. If you've lost all or some of your natural teeth, whether from gum disease, tooth decay or injury, replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health.


Digital X-rays: These are a form of X-ray imaging where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. They have the advantage of less radiation exposure, they can be viewed instantly, and images can be enhanced to assist with diagnosis.


Diode Laser Therapy: In dentistry, diode lasers are often used for soft tissue procedures, such as gum reshaping, removal of excess gum tissue over an unerupted tooth, or treatment of periodontal disease. The laser allows for precise, minimally invasive procedures.


Direct Pulp Capping: This is a treatment for dental caries that has reached the pulp (nerve) of the tooth, causing inflammation or risk of infection. The treatment involves applying medication to the pulp, then sealing the tooth with a filling or crown. The goal is to preserve the pulp and avoid the need for root canal treatment.


Dry Socket Treatment: Dry socket is a painful condition that can occur following tooth extraction if the blood clot that normally forms in the socket is lost too soon, exposing the bone and nerves. Treatment involves placing a medicated dressing in the socket to relieve pain and protect the area. The dentist may also prescribe pain medication and recommend a rinse to clean the socket.


Emergency Dentistry: This encompasses care for any dental problems that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain, stop ongoing tissue bleeding, or save a tooth. Typical issues include a knocked-out tooth, loose or broken teeth, severe toothache, or a swollen jaw.


Endodontic Retreatment: This procedure is done when an initial root canal therapy has failed and a second root canal procedure is required. During retreatment, the dentist removes the previous crown and filling material, cleans the root canals, and then refills and seals them.


Endodontic Surgery: This can be used to locate fractures or hidden canals that do not appear on x-rays but still manifest pain in the tooth. The most common surgery used to save damaged teeth is an apicoectomy or root-end resection, which involves removing the root tip and then placing a root-end filling to prevent reinfection.


Enamel Shaping: Also known as contouring, it is a quick and painless process of shaping natural teeth to improve their appearance. It's used to correct minor imperfections like uneven teeth or teeth that are slightly overcrowded.


Extraction: This is the process of removing a tooth or tooth parts. It is performed for many reasons, such as removing a tooth that can't be saved, removing wisdom teeth, or making room for orthodontic treatment.


Facial Trauma Repair: This involves the treatment of injuries to the face. Dentists specializing in oral surgery may repair skin lacerations, set fractured jaw and facial bones, reconnect severed nerves and ducts, and treat other injuries. This includes the treatment of injuries to the teeth and mouth.


Fissure Sealants: These are a dental treatment where a plastic material is placed in the pits and fissures (grooves) of back teeth (molars and premolars) to prevent or arrest the decay process by blocking access of bacteria and food.


Fluoride Treatment: This is a preventive dentistry treatment that involves the patient receiving a high concentration of fluoride to promote remineralization of the teeth, which helps to prevent tooth decay (cavities). It can be in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish that's brushed onto the teeth or placed in a small tray that fits over the teeth.


Frenectomy: This is a simple oral surgical procedure that eliminates a frenum, a small piece of tissue that connects your cheeks, tongue, or lips to your gum area. The procedure is commonly performed on newborns, children, and adults who might have difficulty speaking or eating due to the frenum.


Gingival Grafting: Also known as gum grafting, this procedure is used to cover exposed tooth roots or develop gum tissue where absent due to excessive gingival recession or after periodontal disease. The grafting material is usually taken from the patient's palate or a tissue bank. The aim is to reduce further gum recession, decrease sensitivity, improve aesthetics, and decrease the risk of root cavities or bone loss.


Gum Disease Treatment: The treatment for gum disease (periodontitis) depends on the severity of the condition. Early-stage gum disease (gingivitis) can often be reversed with good oral hygiene and professional teeth cleaning. More advanced gum disease might require scaling and root planing to clean below the gum line and smooth the root surfaces, medication, or various surgical procedures to reduce pocket depths or regenerate lost bone and tissue.


Gum Surgery: This refers to various surgical procedures used to treat periodontal disease, which affects the gums and the bone that support the teeth. Types of gum surgery include gingival flap surgery (to reduce pocket depths and clean the roots of teeth), gingivectomy (to remove excess gum tissue), and gingivoplasty (to reshape healthy gum tissue around the teeth).


Halitosis Treatment: Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath. Its treatment depends on its cause. It often involves improved dental hygiene, such as consistent brushing and flossing, along with tongue scraping. In some cases, treatment of dental disease such as gum disease may be required. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, avoiding certain foods, and staying hydrated can also help.


Head and Neck Cancer Screening: This involves a physical examination and review of the patient's medical history to check for signs of head and neck cancer. It can include visual inspection and palpation of the face, neck, lips, inside of the nose, and oral cavity, as well as potentially additional diagnostic tests. Dental professionals often perform basic screening for oral cancer and other head and neck cancers as part of a regular dental check-up.


Home Care Instructions: These are instructions given to patients by dental professionals regarding care for their teeth, gums, and mouth at home. These instructions can include recommendations for brushing and flossing techniques, the use of dental products, dietary advice, and other behaviors to maintain oral health. For specific dental treatments or surgeries, home care instructions may also include guidelines for post-operative care, such as how to clean the mouth, what foods to avoid, and when to take prescribed medications.


Interproximal Reduction (IPR): Also known as tooth slenderizing or enamel stripping, this is a procedure often used in orthodontics that involves removing small amounts of enamel from between the teeth to create more space. This can help with the alignment of teeth, especially in cases where teeth are crowded.


Implant Restoration: This is a procedure to replace the crown (the visible part) of a tooth using a dental implant, typically consisting of a titanium post (implant), an abutment, and a dental crown. This procedure is used when a tooth is missing or has been extracted.


Impacted Tooth Exposure: This is a procedure done when a tooth fails to emerge through the gums, or emerges only partially, at the expected time. It's commonly done for wisdom teeth and canines. The oral surgeon will make a small incision into the gums to expose the tooth, and may attach a small chain to help guide the tooth into its proper position over time.


Inlays and Onlays: These are a type of indirect restoration (filling) that consists of gold, porcelain, or composite material. They are used to repair teeth that have moderate to severe decay or cracked and fractured teeth that are not sufficiently damaged to need a crown.


Interceptive Orthodontics: Also known as early intervention orthodontics, this involves identifying and treating orthodontic issues as they arise in growing children, rather than waiting for all the permanent teeth to come in. This can involve guiding the growth of the jaw, correcting harmful oral habits, and creating space for erupting teeth.


Intravenous Sedation: Also known as IV sedation, this is a type of dental sedation where sedative drugs are administered directly into the bloodstream through a vein for the purpose of reducing anxiety and discomfort during dental procedures.


Invisalign: This is a type of orthodontic treatment that uses a series of clear, removable teeth aligners that are custom-made for each patient's mouth. Invisalign is used as an alternative to traditional metal dental braces and is virtually invisible when worn.


Jaw Fracture Repair: This is a surgical procedure to treat a broken jawbone. The surgeon makes an incision in the skin or inside the mouth and positions the jawbones together in their correct positions. Plates, screws, or wires may be used to hold the jawbones together and promote healing.


Jaw Surgery: Also known as orthognathic surgery, this involves procedures to correct a wide range of minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities, including misalignment of jaws and teeth. It's often performed in conjunction with orthodontics.


Joint Disorder Treatment: In the context of dental care, this typically refers to treatment for temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), a condition that can cause pain in your jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Treatments can include medications, physical therapy, oral appliances, counseling to help patients understand and modify behaviors that aggravate their condition, and in severe cases, surgical or other invasive procedures.


Occlusal Adjustment: The process of reshaping the biting surfaces of teeth to improve the alignment and balance of the bite, often done to alleviate problems such as teeth grinding (bruxism) or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: The branch of dentistry that deals with the identification and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It involves the diagnosis of oral diseases, such as oral cancer, through various methods like biopsies and microscopic examination.


Oral Cancer Screening: A thorough examination to detect signs of oral cancer, including visual inspection of the oral cavity, throat, and neck, as well as palpation of the tissues.

Oral Surgery: The specialty of dentistry that focuses on surgical procedures involving the mouth, teeth, and jaw. It includes procedures such as tooth extractions, dental implant placement, jaw realignment, and treatment of oral diseases and injuries.

Orthodontics: The branch of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of malocclusions (misalignments) and irregularities of the teeth, jaw, and bite. Orthodontic treatment often involves the use of braces or aligners to straighten teeth and improve oral function and aesthetics.

Overdentures: Removable dentures that are supported by dental implants or remaining teeth. Overdentures provide improved stability and retention compared to conventional complete dentures.


Porcelain Veneers: Thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored porcelain that are bonded to the front surface of teeth to enhance their appearance, such as correcting discoloration, chips, or gaps.


Prophylaxis: Commonly referred to as a dental cleaning, prophylaxis involves removing plaque, calculus (tartar), and stains from teeth to maintain oral health.


Partial Dentures: Removable dental appliances used to replace missing teeth when some natural teeth remain. They are supported by the remaining teeth and gums.


Periodontal Surgery: Surgical procedures performed to treat advanced gum disease (periodontitis) and restore the health of the gums and supporting structures.


Pulpotomy: A procedure commonly performed on primary (baby) teeth to remove infected or damaged pulp tissue while preserving the remaining healthy pulp.


Ridge Augmentation: A surgical procedure that adds bone or gum tissue to the jaw ridge to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance or provide a better foundation for dental implants.


Retainers: Custom-made appliances used after orthodontic treatment to hold the teeth in their new positions and prevent them from shifting.


Root Canal Treatment: Procedure to treat infected or inflamed dental pulp by removing it, cleaning and shaping the root canals, and then sealing them with a filling material.


Root Planing: Part of scaling and root planing procedure where the roots of teeth are smoothed to remove bacterial toxins and promote healing of the gums.


Rubber Dam: A thin sheet of rubber used to isolate the teeth during certain dental procedures, such as root canal treatment, to keep the area clean and dry.


Sinus Lift: A surgical procedure used to add bone to the upper jaw in the area of the molars and premolars when there is insufficient bone height due to sinus expansion.


Sleep Apnea Treatment: Various treatments, such as oral appliances or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, to address sleep apnea and improve sleep quality.


Sports Dentistry: Specialized field focusing on preventing and managing dental injuries related to sports activities, including the use of custom-made mouthguards and treatment of sports-related dental trauma.


Splinting: Technique of bonding or connecting teeth together to provide stability and support, commonly used for mobile teeth or after tooth avulsion.


Scaling and Root Planing: Deep cleaning procedure used to treat gum disease, involving removing plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line and smoothing the tooth roots.


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: Conditions affecting the jaw joint and surrounding structures, often characterized by pain, clicking or popping noises, limited jaw movement, and other symptoms.


Tooth Extraction: Removal of a tooth from its socket in the jaw, often performed due to severe decay, advanced gum disease, or to create space for orthodontic treatment.


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Treatment: Various treatments, such as medications, physical therapy, bite splints, and lifestyle modifications, to address TMJ disorders and alleviate associated symptoms.


Teeth Whitening: Procedures that use various techniques, such as bleaching agents or laser/light activation, to lighten the color of natural teeth and achieve a brighter smile.


Tongue Tie Release: Surgical procedure to correct a condition where the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth, limiting its range of motion and potentially causing difficulties with speech or oral function.


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: Conditions affecting the jaw joint and surrounding structures, often characterized by pain, clicking or popping noises, limited jaw movement, and other symptoms.


Tooth Extraction: Removal of a tooth from its socket in the jaw, often performed due to severe decay, advanced gum disease, or to create space for orthodontic treatment.


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Treatment: Various treatments, such as medications, physical therapy, bite splints, and lifestyle modifications, to address TMJ disorders and alleviate associated symptoms.


Teeth Whitening: Procedures that use various techniques, such as bleaching agents or laser/light activation, to lighten the color of natural teeth and achieve a brighter smile.


Tongue Tie Release: Surgical procedure to correct a condition where the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth, limiting its range of motion and potentially causing difficulties with speech or oral function.


Upper Denture: A removable dental prosthesis that replaces missing teeth in the upper arch (maxilla) to restore function and aesthetics.


Uncovering Implants: A surgical procedure to expose dental implants that have been placed beneath the gumline, allowing for the attachment of abutments and subsequent placement of dental restorations.


Unilateral Space Maintainer: A dental appliance used to preserve space in the arch after the premature loss of a primary (baby) tooth on one side, preventing adjacent teeth from shifting.


Vertical Root Fracture Treatment: Vertical root fractures are cracks that occur in the root of a tooth and can cause pain and infection. Treatment may involve extraction of the affected tooth or, in some cases, endodontic surgery to attempt to save the tooth.


Vizilite Oral Cancer Screening: A specialized screening method that uses a chemiluminescent light source to identify abnormalities and potential signs of oral cancer.


Vital Pulp Therapy: Procedures such as pulpotomy or pulpectomy performed to preserve the vitality and health of the dental pulp (nerve) in cases of deep tooth decay or traumatic injuries.


Water Flosser: An oral hygiene device that uses a stream of pulsating water to clean between the teeth and along the gumline, providing an alternative to traditional dental floss.


Whitening Trays: Custom-fitted trays that hold bleaching gel and are worn over the teeth to whiten and brighten the smile. They are typically used in at-home teeth whitening procedures.


Wisdom Tooth Extraction: Removal of the third molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, usually performed if they are impacted, causing pain or potential complications such as infection or crowding.


Wide Diameter Implants: Dental implants with a larger diameter used to provide increased stability and support, particularly in cases of compromised bone structure.


Wax Try-In: A stage in the fabrication of dental prosthetics where the patient tries on a wax replica of the final restoration to assess the fit, shape, and aesthetics before the final restoration is created.


Xerostomia Treatment: Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, can have various causes and negatively affect oral health. Treatment may involve managing underlying conditions, lifestyle changes, saliva substitutes, and medications to alleviate symptoms and promote oral comfort.


Yellow Gold Crowns: Dental crowns made from yellow gold alloy, known for their durability and biocompatibility.


Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia (YSZ) Implants: Dental implants made from zirconia with yttria stabilization, offering enhanced strength, biocompatibility, and aesthetics compared to traditional titanium implants.


Zirconia Crowns: Crowns made from zirconia, a strong and aesthetically pleasing ceramic material. Zirconia crowns offer excellent durability and a natural appearance, often used for both front and back teeth restorations.


Zenithal Caries: Also known as cervical or root surface caries, these are cavities that form at the gum line or root surfaces of teeth, typically caused by gum recession and exposure of vulnerable tooth structures to bacteria and acids.


Zinc Oxide Eugenol Cement: A type of dental cement used for temporary restorations, including provisional crowns, bridges, and fillings.


Zygomatic Implants: Dental implants that anchor into the zygomatic bone (cheekbone) instead of the jawbone, offering a solution for patients with significant bone loss in the upper jaw.

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