Waterloo Family Dental


Dental Glossary

  • Abscess​– infection caused by severe tooth decay, trauma or gum disease.
  • Amalgam​– a silver and mercury material used for fillings.
  • Anesthetic​– a drug used by your doctor to eliminate a patient’s localized pain during certain dental procedures.
  • Anterior​– the teeth in the front of your mouth.
  • Antiseptic​– an agent that can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.
  • Apex​– the very tip of the root of a tooth.
  • Aspirator​– a suction device your dentist uses to remove saliva from your mouth.
  • Bleaching Agent​– a gel used to whiten and brighten teeth.
  • Bonding​– a plastic composite painted on the teeth to correct stains or damage.
  • Bridge​– one or more artificial teeth attached to your adjacent teeth.
  • Bruxism​– the clenching or grinding of teeth, most commonly while sleeping.
  • Calculus​– the hardened plaque that can form on teeth, commonly known as tartar.
  • Canine​– the pointy teeth just behind the laterals.
  • Caries​– another name for cavities or decayed teeth.
  • Cavity​– a tiny hole in the tooth caused by decay.
  • Central​– the two upper and two lower teeth in the center of the mouth.
  • Crown​– an artificial tooth or cover made of porcelain or metal.
  • Cuspid​– the pointy teeth just behind the laterals, also known as canines. ­
  • Decalcification​– the loss of calcium from the teeth.
  • Deciduous Teeth​– also called “baby teeth.”
  • Dental Implants​– an implant permanently attached to the jawbone that replaces a missing tooth or teeth. Denture​– a removable set of artificial teeth.
  • Enamel​– the hard surface of the tooth above the gum line.
  • Extraction​– the removal of a tooth or teeth.
  • Filling​– a plug made of metal or composite material used to fill a tooth cavity.
  • Fluoride​– a chemical solution used to harden teeth and prevent decay.
  • Gingivitis​– inflammation of gums around the roots of the teeth.
  • Gums​– the firm flesh that surrounds the roots of the teeth.
  • Impacted Tooth​– often occurring with wisdom teeth, it is a tooth that sits sideways below the gum line, often requiring extraction.
  • Incisal​– related to incisors (see below).
  • Incisor​– one of the flat, sharp­edged teeth in the front of the mouth.
  • Inlays​– a custom­made filling cemented into an unhealthy tooth.
  • Instant Orthodontics​– alternative to braces using bonded porcelain veneers or crowns.
  • Lateral​– these are the teeth adjacent to the centrals.
  • Night Guard​– a plastic mouthpiece worn at night to prevent grinding of the teeth. Often used to treat TMJ.
  • Pedodontist​– also known as a pediatric dentist, a dentist that specializes in the treatment of children’s teeth.
  • Periodontist​– a dentist specializing in the treatment of gum disease.
  • Plaque​– a sticky buildup of acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.
  • Posterior Teeth​– the teeth in the back of the mouth.
  • Primary Teeth​– also known as “baby teeth” or deciduous teeth.
  • Root​– the portion of the tooth below your gum line.
  • Root Canal​– cleaning out and filling the inside nerve of a tooth that is heavily decayed.
  • Sealant​– plastic coating applied to teeth to prevent decay. Used most commonly for children.
  • Secondary Teeth​– the permanent teeth.
  • Six­Year Molar​– commonly known as “the first molar.”
  • Sleep Apnea​– a potentially serious disorder in which a sleeping person may stop breathing for 10 seconds or more, often continuously throughout the night.
  • Tartar​– see calculus.
  • TMJ Syndrome​– a disorder associated with the joint of the jaw. Often caused by a misalignment of or a disparity in upper and lower jaw sizes.
  • Tooth Whitening​– a process designed to whiten and brighten teeth.
  • Twelve­Year Molar​– commonly known as “the second molar.”
  • Veneer​– a plastic, porcelain or composite material used to improve the attractiveness of a stained or damaged tooth.

Orthodontic Glossary

  • Archwire– a wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.
  • Band (orthodontic)– a thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.
  • Bracket– an orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.
  • Ceramic Brackets​– crystalline, alumina, tooth­shade or clear synthetic sapphire brackets that are aesthetically more attractive than conventional metal attachments.
  • Crowding​– dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.
  • Debanding​– the removal of cemented orthodontic bands.
  • Elastics (rubber bands)​– used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band and upper ball hook). Found in numerous colors for better appearance.
  • Gingiva​– the tissue that surrounds the teeth, consisting of a fibrous tissue that is continuous with the periodontal ligament and mucosal covering.
  • Headgear– generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back side of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.
  • Herbst Appliance– fixed or removable appliance designed commonly for overbite problems and more.
  • Imaging​– the process of acquiring representations of structures in either two or three dimensions.
  • Lingual​–  of or pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.
  • Lingual Appliances​–  orthodontic appliances fixed to the lingual surface of the teeth.
  • Maxillary– of or pertaining to the upper jaw. May be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.
  • Orthognathic Surgery​– surgery to alter relationships of teeth and/or supporting bones, usually accomplished in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.
  • Overbite​– vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.
  • Radiograph– a permanent image, typically on film, produced by ionizing radiation. Sometimes called an X­-Ray after the most common source of image producing radiation.
  • Retainer​– any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.
  • Retention​– the passive treatment period following active orthodontic correction during which retaining appliances may be used.
  • Straight Wire Appliance– a variation of the edgewise appliance in which brackets are angulated to minimize multiple archwire bends. Brackets and molar tubes have specific orientation in three planes of space.