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Amalgam - Filling material made from mercury and other alloy mixtures, used to restore an area of a tooth where decay was removed. (We do not use amalgam in our office.)
Anesthesia - Medications used to relieve pain.
Anterior teeth - Front teeth. Also called incisors and canines.
Arch - The upper or lower jaw.
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Baby bottle tooth decay - More commonly called Early Childhood Caries, is tooth decay caused by prolonged exposure to natural sugars in milk (including breast milk) and juices.
Bicuspids - Permanent back teeth used for chewing. They are between the canines and molars.
Bitewings - X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities between the back teeth.
Bonding - Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth.
Buccal Surface - Cheek-side surface of the tooth.
Bruxism - Teeth grinding.
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Calculus - A form of hardened dental plaque. It is caused by the continual accumulation of minerals from saliva over plaque on the teeth. Brushing and flossing can remove plaque from which calculus forms. Once calculus forms, however, it is too hard and firmly attached to be removed with a toothbrush and must be removed by a dental professional.
Canal - The narrow chamber inside the tooth's root, contains nerves and blood vessels.
Canines - Also called cuspids or 'eye teeth', are located next to the incisors.
Canker sore - A sore that occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. A canker sore is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border.
Caries - Another term for tooth decay, is a bacterial infection which causes cavities.
Cold sore - Usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious and is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Blisters are painful and filled with fluid.
Composite filling - Tooth colored restorations, also known as resin fillings. (We used tooth colored fillings in our office. They do not contain mercury.)
Contouring - The process of reshaping teeth or fillings.
Crown - An artificial cover that is placed on the top of a tooth following restoration.
Cusps - The pointed parts on top of the back teeth's chewing surface.
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Dentin - The tooth layer underneath the enamel.
Distal Surface - Surface of tooth away from midline of face.
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Endodontics - A specialty of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth's root or nerve.
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Fluoride - A naturally occurring substance used for strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to caries. Natural fluoride can be found in some foods and is added to water, toothpastes and some oral rinses.
Fluorosis - Deviations in tooth enamel caused by ingesting too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Most cases of fluorosis are mild and will appear as tiny white specks or streaks that are often unnoticeable. However, in severe cases of enamel fluorosis, the appearance of the teeth can be marred by discoloration or brown markings. The enamel may be pitted, rough, and hard to clean.
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Gingiva - Another word for gum tissue.
Gingivitis - Inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial plaque.
Gum disease - An infection of the gum tissues. Also called periodontal disease.
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Impacted teeth - A condition in which a tooth fails to come into the mouth, or comes in only partially.
Implant - An artificial tooth root used to anchor a crown and replace a missing tooth.
Incisor - The four upper and lower front teeth.
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Laminate veneer - A shell that is bonded to the enamel of a front tooth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin.
Lingual Surface - Tongue-side of the tooth.
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Malocclusion - An incorrect bite relationship.
Mandible - The lower jaw.
Maxilla - The upper jaw.
Mesial Surface - Surface of tooth closest to midline of the face.
Molar - The largest back teeth. Molars have large chewing surfaces.
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Nitrous Oxide - The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation as a safe and effective technique to reduce anxiety, produce analgesia, and enhance effective communication between a patient and health care provider. Also known as 'relaxing air', it is breathed in through the nose.
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Occlusal Surface - Chewing surface of the tooth.
Orthodontics - The specialty of dentistry that treats tooth and jaw alignment with braces and appliances.
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Palate - Roof of the mouth.
Pedodontics - More commonly referred to as Pediatric Dentistry, is the specialty of dentistry that treats children exclusively. Pediatric Dentists are often referred to as 'the pediatricians of dentistry'.
Perio pocket - A 'pocket' or space formed by the separation of gum tissue from the tooth due to inflammation or infection.
Periodontal disease - Infection of the gum tissues. Also called gum disease.
Periodontist - The specialty of dentistry that focuses on diseases of the gums.
Permanent teeth - The teeth that come in after primary teeth. Also called adult teeth.
Plaque - A sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on the teeth.
Posterior teeth - The bicuspids and molars. Also called the back teeth.
Primary teeth - A child's first set of teeth. Also called baby or deciduous teeth.
Prophylaxis - The act of cleaning the teeth.
Prosthodontics - The specialty of dentistry that deals with artificial dental appliances such as crowns, bridges, dentures, etc.
Pulp - The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood vessels and nerves.
Pulpectomy - A root canal procedure for pulp tissue of primary (baby) teeth that is irreversibly infected due to caries or injury. The diseased nerve of the tooth is removed and replaced with a filling material. This procedure is sometimes used as an alternative to having to remove a tooth prematurely and providing space maintenance.
Pulpotomy - A partial pulpectomy (see above) in a primary tooth with extensive caries that has infected a portion of the nerve. The diseased portion of the nerve is removed and replaced with a medicated material, allowing the remaining healthy pulp tissue to remain intact.
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Receding gum - Recession is a condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth's enamel and surrounding bone.
Resin filling - An artificial filling used to restore teeth. Also called a composite filling.
Root canal - The procedure in which a tooth's diseased nerve is removed, the inner canal cleansed, medicated, and later filled.
Root planing - Scraping, smoothing and cleansing of teeth to remove buildup of calculus (tartar) below the gum line.
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Sealant - A synthetic material placed on the chewing surface of molars to 'seal out' bacteria from deep anatomical grooves.
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Tartar - See Calculus
TMJ - Temporomandibular joint is the jaw joint just in front of the ear. TMJ disorder refers to pain or chewing problems related to inflammation or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint.
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Veneer - A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.
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Whitening - A process that employs special bleaching agents for restoring the color of teeth.
Wisdom Teeth - The third permanent molars are usually the last teeth to grow into the mouth. For many teens, this occurs between 14 and 18 years of age. In some cases, the wisdom teeth may not come in until after age 20. The location of the wisdom teeth should be evaluated when the teenager is between 16 and 19.
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