Dental glossary

We hope that we've explained technical or unfamilar terms well.  But if you need to quickly check a word or phase, use our dental glossary which covers everything you'll come across, and a few unusual definitions, too.


A connecting element. Used to attach a crown, bridge or removable denture to the dental implant

Aesthetic evaluation
Relating to or dealing with aesthetics e.g. pleasing in appearance, attractive

Air-powder polishing is used with a specially designed handpiece. It delivers an air-powder slurry of water and sodium bicarbonate for polishing. It is very effective for the removal of stain

An intense or morbid fear of pain

Clear braces to straighten teeth

All on 4™
A same day dental restoration procedure using a reduced number of implants to support a fixed bridge

A filling material made from silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury. Mercury is nearly 50 percent of the mixture. This material is strong, but can tarnish or corrode over time.

Anaesthetic Injection
A drug administered by injection around the teeth and gums to avoid any discomfort during treatment

A clinician trained in anaesthesia and pre-operative medicine

Mediation to fight bacteria during an infection

Apicectomy (aka Endodontic Surgery)
A surgical procedure where the tip of the tooth is removed and root sealed and infected area cleansed 

Is the follow up treatment that is a result of your consultation or your long-standing regular check-up

Wear of teeth due to activities such as chewing Axial term for viewing slices of x-rays in a sequence 


An abnormal fear of sharp pointed objects, particularly needles

A manmade object, substance, human, animal substance will be tolerated when placed in the body 

The application of mechanical principles to living organisms

Bone Grafting
Procedure to provide more bone volume usually width in a deficient area

A fixed dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth or teeth by joining an artificial tooth permanently to adjacent teeth or implants

Teeth grinding


Cone Beam Computer Tomography is a medical imaging technique consisting of X-Ray computed tomography where the X-Rays are divergent and form a cone pattern to focus on a specified area. Increasingly used in implantology for planning and diagnosis

Complex augmentation
The addition of bone in a compromised area to create volume. Bone grafting and maxillary sinus grafting typify this type of procedure

Conscious sedation
A combination of medicines to help you relax (a sedative) administered during a medical or dental procedure

For new and existing patients who need to discuss specifics such as the experience of pain or issues with their teeth, or a desire for cosmetic procedures.  

Term for viewing slices of x-rays in a sequence

Teeth are in wrong position with the posterior upper teeth inside the posterior lower teeth

Viewing slices if x-rays in a sequence

Too many teeth resulting in crossing over of teeth 

Crowns (aka 'Caps')
A crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed. A crown is made to look like the tooth. Many people call it a cap. A crown is also the name for the very top surface of a tooth.


Destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria

Caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking on sugary foods or drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well

The process of cleansing the human body, equipment and environment to remove contamination from hazardous materials including chemicals, radioactive substances and infectious material

Dental Composites
A mixture of resins and fine glass particles used for fillings

Dental Health Consultation
This is what we call a routine dental health check with no planned treatment

Dental impression
An imprint of teeth and/or soft tissues created with specific types of impression material and used in various forms of dentistry accurately to model the structure of teeth and gums

Dental nurse
A fully trained member of the dental team who provides essential support to the dentist and to the patient in a variety of clinical and non- clinical settings. Must be registered with the General Dental Council

Dental technician
A member of the dental team who, upon prescription from a dental clinician, constructs custom made restorations and/or dental appliances. Must be registered with the General Dental Council

A prosthetic device constructed to replace missing teeth. Also referred to as false teeth

Denture adhesive
A gel like material used on a denture to aid adhesion to the mouth

Dermal Fillers
Products that can be injected into the face or lips to enhance and rejuvenate the appearance

Diagnostic study
A medical test performed to aid in the diagnosis or detection of disease

The space in between two adjacent teeth

Digital imaging
The creation of digital images typically from a physical scene. The term is often assumed to imply the processing, compression, storage, printing and display of such images

Direct Restorations
Restorations placed directly into the mouth

Fobrocartilagenous structure that exists between tow bony surfaces, found discs in your jaw joint and may sometimes gets displaced resulting in a clicking or painful jaw  

A direction indication in the mouth. It indicates the direction away from the middle of the jaw

Dry mouth
A common condition which has various triggers including: medicine, radiotherapy, blocked nose, anxiety, low body fluid, sjogrens syndrome (a condition that can affect the salivary glands)


No teeth

Endodontic Retreatment
A root canal has failed and treatment has to be re done

Endodontic Surgery (aka Apicectomy)
A surgical procedure where the tip of the tooth is removed and root sealed and infected area cleansed

Endodontic Therapy (aka Root Canal Treatment)
Cleaning out and shaping and then filling the area within the tooth structure that was occupied by the pulp, known as the root canal

The branch of dentistry that deals with diseases of the tooth's pulp

The action of cutting something off

Outside the mouth


Facial Aesthetic Treatments   
Treatments administered by injecting muscle relaxants, or dermal fillers, aimed at smoothing wrinkles and rejuvenating the appearance

Fast & Fixed™
A same day dental restoration procedure using a reduced number of implants to support a fixed bridge

Fibrocartilaginous Tissue
Tissue encapsulating the end of bone/ discs in moveable joints

A dental restorative material used to restore the function, integrity, form and structure of damaged teeth

Dental floss is a bundle of thin filaments used to remove dental plaque from teeth. Air flossing and water flossing products are also available

A natural mineral found in water and Earth's crust. Helps prevent cavities by hardening the enamel

Fluoride Exposure
An amount of fluoride ingested or applied to your teeth throughout your life

Foreign body
An object originally outside the body

Full dentures
Complete dentures replacing all upper and lower teeth

Fungal infection
Commonly known as Oral Thrush or Oral Candidiasisa. Usually caused by the Candida fungus which produces a ‘cottony’ feeling in the mouth, loss of taste and difficulty swallowing


The pink tissue around the teeth

Gingival Recession
Gum recession is when the gum is displaced from its original position on the tooth, lower down on the root, and is said to have receeded

Glass Ionomer Cement 
An acrylic and glass component used to cement inlays or as filling material. Glass ionomer matches the color of teeth but is weaker than composite resin fillings

Grafted bone
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone. It involves building up or adding bone to the jaw by using your own natural bone from another part of the body

Gum disease aka Gingivitis.
The gums become swollen, sore or infected. In severe cases a condition called periodontitis can develop. This affects the tissue that supports teeth and holds them in place. Untreated, teeth can become loose and may fall out


The process of the restoration of health to all unbalanced, diseased or damaged organisms

A dental professional, registered with the General Dental Council, who undertakes preventive oral health treatment and education


A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is commonly used for the relief of a range of symptoms and as an analgesic (a medication given to reduce pain without resulting in loss of consciousness)

An artificial tooth that is anchored in the gums or jawbone to replace a missing tooth

A soft material in inserted into the mouth to take a copy of the teeth, which can then be cast in a solid non deformable material for use to produce appliances or to evaluate the relationship and alignment of the teeth

Indirect Restorations
Restorations that are created outside the mouth prior to placing in the mouth

Porcelain, resin, or gold filling made to fit a prepared cavity within the tooth structure, cemented in place to help restore a decayed or broken tooth

Inter-dental cleaning
The cleaning of areas between teeth and restorations with special brushes to help prevent a build up of bacteria and plaque that a tooth brush is unable to reach

The space inbetween two adjacent teeth

Inside the mouth

Clear braces to straighten teeth

IV Sedation
Administering drugs to create a feeling of relaxation during which the patient remains conscious and spontaneously breathing


Lateral cephalometric radiograph
An xray taken from the side of the skull which shows the upper and lower jaws in relationship to each other, and also the skeletal structures of the skull

Lateral cephalometric tracing
A computerised tracing of a lateral cephalometric radiograph, used to determine a number of factors and constants useful in diagnosis and treatment planning 

The side of the tooth toward the tongue

Lip augmentation
Changing the shape or enhancing the lips through injecting of fillers

Local anaesthetic
A drug that produces a short- term local anaesthesia or loss of pain and used to reduce pain in a specific area of the body


Maxillary sinus
Air filled cavity within the upper jaw, above posterior teeth

A barrier to stop soft  tissue growth into a new bone graft and disrupting it healing process

The side of the tooth toward the middle of the jaw

A chemotherapeutic agent used as an effective care system to enhance oral hygiene

A band or bundle of fibrous tissue in a human or animal body that has the ability to contract, producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body


Viewing slices of x-rays in a sequence

The biting surface of the back teeth

The way the upper and lower teeth bite together

Odontophobia (more commonly dentalphobia)
Fear of dentists

OPG - orthopantomogram
An x-ray image of your whole mouth, including your upper and lower jaw and teeth. The X-ray machine moves around your head while taking the image. This provides a complete ear to ear image of your mouth and teeth

Straightening irregularities of the teeth and also on occasions the jaws or skeletal alignment of the jaws

A dentist who treats irregularities in the teeth and skeletal structures, through diagnosing and creating appliances to correct these irregularities

Where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by more than normal, in a vertical plane


A mild analgesic commonly used for the relief of headaches and other minor aches and pains

Partial dentures
Replace one or just a few teeth

Periodontal Disease
Periodontitis is a gum infection that damages the gums and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. Periodontitis can cause tooth loss, and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and other serious health problems

A dental specialist who treats the gums and supporting soft and hard tissues in order to retain natural teeth, or to prepare the health of the mouth for surgical placement of dental implants 

Sticky, colourless film of bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth and along the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease

A material made from quartz, used to make crowns and veneers, that can be matched to the color of the tooth and resists staining

Posterior teeth
Teeth set on both sides at the back of the jaw

Platelet rich growth factor; nutrients taken from patients own blood that improves healing time

Describes an artificial body part

The branch of dentistry that deals with the replacement of missing teeth and related mouth or jaw structures by bridges, dentures and other artificial devices

Procedures and rules of behaviour

The soft tissue in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain


RA: Relative Analgesia
Administering a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide to create a feeling of relaxation

An image produced on a radiosensitive surface such as photographic film by radiation rather than visible light. Also known as an X-Ray

A medical speciality that employs the use of imaging both to diagnose and treat disease visualised within the human body

Relining or rebasing dentures
Usually carried out when the fit of the denture has deteriorated resulting in an unstable denture or damaged tissue

The opposite of buck teeth

Root Caries 
The tooth is in two areas, the crown which is the section in the mouth and the roots normally beneath the gum and in the bone.  In time and with age the root becomes exposed and this is more susceptible to decay and results in root caries


Term for viewing slices of x-rays in a sequence

When you contact a clinic or clinician independently rather than being referred from someone else

Sinus Augmentation
Lifting the sinus lining or manoeuvring and placing of a biocompatible material it to achieve more bone height between the floor of the sinus and the oral cavity

Sinus Lifts And Grafts
Procedures to achieve greater bone volumes usually for implant surgery

Skin elasticity
The ability of skin to stretch and return to its original shape and form. Skin loses elasticity mainly due to the aging process but can be caused by exposure to sunlight, weight loss, smoking, consuming sweets, fatty foods and sleeping in the same position

Skin moisture loss
Can be caused by dry weather, harsh soaps and/or ph balance of the skin

Spaces between teeth resulting from small teeth or too few teeth

Synovial Fluid
Fluid in jaw joint


Tartar is dead calcified (hardened) plaque that attaches to the enamel on your teeth and below the gum line

Temporary bridge
Used whilst waiting for a permanent bridge to be made

Temporomandibular disorder (aka TMD)
A disorder in which the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw isn't working properly. This can cause headaches, clicking sounds, pain and locked jaw

Temporomandibular joint (aka TMJ)
The joint that links the two jaws

A tendon (or sinew) is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension

A fear of injections


Ultrasonic Scaler
Dental tool that uses high frequency ultrasonic waves and water to clean teeth

The lower teeth are outside the uppers, giving appearance lower jaw is too big, or the upper jaw too small


Thin shells of porcelain bonded to the front of the teeth to improve appearance. These can be used to fix chipped, stained, misaligned, worn-down or abnormally spaced teeth


Dry mouth