A


Abrasion - The loss of tooth structure (enamel) and gum caused by a hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique or bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth).
Abscess - A localized infection in the bone or soft gum tissues; usually occurs at the end of the root tip. Abscesses can become serious infections that can cause tooth loss and bone damage.
Abutment - The natural tooth that remains to hold in place a fixed or removable bridge.
Alveolar Bone - The jaw bone that anchors the roots of teeth.
Amalgam - A common metal material used in fillings to repair cavities in teeth usually consisting of a mixture of silver and mercury and other materials. Amalgam fillings are proven to be safe, cost-effective and durable.
Analgesia - An agent that lessens pain without loss of consciousness. Example, novacaine or similar number agents.
Anterior Teeth - The six upper or six lower front teeth.
Antibiotic - A drug that stops or slows the growth of bacteria.
Apex - The tip of the root of a tooth.
Apicoectomy - The surgical removal of the root tip to treat a dead tooth.
Attrition - The normal wearing down of the surface of a tooth from chewing and natural wear.

B


Base - The cement placed under a dental restoration to insulate the nerve chamber.
Bicuspids/Premolars - The teeth with two rounded points located between the eye teeth (cuspids) and the molars.
Bite - The way in which the upper and lower teeth meet when closing the mouth.
Bitewing - An x-ray of a patient’s mouth that helps detect tooth decay.
Bleaching - A technique that whitens or lightens the color of stained or discolored teeth through a chemical or laser treatment.
Bonding - A technique to bind a filling or filling material to a tooth. Bonding materials may be used to repair chipped, cracked, misshapen or discolored teeth or to fill in a gap between teeth.
Braces - The devices used by orthodontists to gradually reposition teeth.
Bridge - Nonremovable tooth replacements attached to adjoining natural teeth when one or a few teeth are missing. A dental bridge is a great solution for those missing some but not all of their natural teeth.
Bruxism - The involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth.

C


Calcium - The natural element needed for healthy teeth, bones and nerves.
Calculus - The hard residue that forms on teeth due to plaque buildup, often stained yellow or brown; also known as “tartar”.
Canker Sore - A mouth sore, whitish in color that often appears with a red halo.
Cantilever Bridge - A fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth on one end.
Cavities - A decay lesion or hole in a tooth.
Centrals/Laterals - The four front teeth.
Clasp - A device that holds a removable partial denture to stationary teeth.
Cleaning - The removal of plaque and tartar from teeth, generally above the gum line.
Composite Filling - A tooth-colored metal free filling.
Cosmetic Dentistry - The treatments performed to enhance appearance of your smile such as whitening or veneers.
Cross Bite - A reverse biting relationship of upper and lower teeth (e.g., underbite).
Crown/Jacket/Cap - The artificial covering of a tooth with metal (usually gold), porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. Crowns cover teeth weakened by decay or teeth that are severely damaged or chipped. Crowns help restore protect and strengthen the tooth and restore its appearance.
Curettage - The removal of diseased tissue from a periodontal pocket.
Cusp - The pointed or rounded part of a tooth’s biting surface.
Cuspids - The large pointed teeth at the corners of the mouth, located between the incisors and bicuspids; also known as “canine” or “eye teeth”.
Cusps - The raised round parts on the chewing surface of the teeth.

D


DDS - The abbreviation for Doctor of Dental Surgery.
DMD - The abbreviation for Doctor of Medical Dentistry.
Decay - The destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria that naturally occur in your mouth.
Deciduous Teeth - The first set of (usually) twenty teeth; also known as “baby teeth”.
Dental Floss - A waxed or unwaxed piece of nylon string that is inserted between the teeth and moved in an up/down fashion to remove plaque or other food deposits.
Dental Implant - A titanium cylinder surgically placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw to provide support for a dental restoration or appliance.
Dentin - The inner layer of tooth structure, located immediately under the surface enamel.
Dentures - Removable artificial teeth in a plastic base that rests directly on the gums. A denture may be complete or partial depending on the number of missing natural teeth. Dentures are appropriate for those patients that have lost all or some of their natural teeth.
Diastema - The space between teeth.

E


Enamel - The hard tissue covering the portion of tooth above the gum line; the hardest substance in the body.
Endodontics - The branch of dentistry concerned with the treatment of the dental pulp, nerve or root of the tooth; the most common procedure is a root canal.
Endodontist - A specialist who treats injuries, diseases and infections of the tooth pulp, nerves or root of the tooth.
Extraction - The removal of teeth.

F


Facing - A plastic or porcelain surface placed on the front of a tooth or crown for a natural appearance.
Filling - The restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain or resin materials.
Flap Surgery - The lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures.
Fluoride - A naturally occurring element that strengthens enamel, helping teeth resist decay.

G


Gingivectomy - The surgical removal of gum tissue.
Gingivitis - The inflammation of gum tissue; early stage of gum disease caused by a buildup of plaque, tartar or food particles.
Gum Recession - The exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums from abrasion, periodontal disease or surgery.

H


Halimeter - An instrument used in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic halitosis (bad breath).
Halitosis - The condition of bad breath.
Heat Sterilization - A procedure that kills all microorganisms on instruments when placed into a chamber and the temperature is raised.
Hygienist - A type of dental professional qualified to clean and scale teeth; they also educate patients on proper dental care.

I


Impacted Tooth - A tooth beneath the gum tissue that lies against another tooth, under bone or soft tissue, which is unlikely to grow out on its own.
Implant - A fixed replacement for a missing tooth or a support for a bridge or denture that has been surgically placed into bone.
Impression - A mold made of the teeth and soft tissues.
Incisors - The four upper or lower single-cusped (pointed) front teeth designed for cutting food.
Inlay - A solid filling usually made out of gold-alloy cast to fit the missing portion of the tooth and cemented into place covering one or more tooth cusps.
Intraoral Camera - A small video camera used to view and magnify oral conditions; images may be viewed on a monitor or printed.

J


Jacket - A crown for a front tooth usually made of porcelain. A jacket is a form of dental crown and is used to cover chipped, damaged or teeth weakened by decay.

K




L


Laminate Veneer - A thin plastic or porcelain shell applied to the front of a tooth to restore, strengthen or improve its appearance. Dental veneers are used to correct spaces or gaps in between teeth, misshapen teeth, crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth, discolored / stained teeth.
Lasers - A light emitting instrument used in dental surgery, to cure (harden) restorative tooth materials and enhance tooth whitening, as well as to remove tooth structure to eliminate disease.
Laughing Gas - Nitrous oxide gas used to produce a mild form of relative sedation in patients. Nitrous oxide is used to reduce anxiety and induce a state of relaxation in nervous patients or patients that are undergoing lengthy procedures.
Local Anesthesia - An agent that relieves the sensation of pain in a localized area, example, novacaine.

M


Malocclusion - Incorrect position of biting or chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.
Mandible - The lower jaw.
Margin - The point of contact between a restoration and the tooth structure.
Maxilla - The upper jaw.
Medicated Filling- A provisional or temporary filling that incorporates a pallative or soothing medication to calm an inflamed tooth nerve.
Molars - The back teeth that are designed for grinding food before swallowing.
Mouthguard - A removable appliance used to protect teeth from injury during athletc activities.

N


Nerve (Root) Canal - The dental pulp; the internal chamber of a tooth.
Night Guard - A removable acrylic appliance usually worn at night used to minimize the effects of grinding the teeth (bruxism) or jaw / joint problems.
Nitrous Oxide - A gas used to reduce patient anxiety; also known as "laughing gas".
Nursing Bottle Syndrome - Severe decay in baby teeth due to sleeping with a bottle of milk or juice. Natural sugars from the drink combine with bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that decays teeth.

O


Onlay - A gold or porcelain inlay extended to cover the cusps for protection of the tooth.
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon - A specialist who deals with the diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases, injuries and deformities of the mouth and supporting structures.
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - Surgical procedures on the mouth including extractions, removal of cysts or tumors, and repair of fractured jaws.
Oral Cavity - The mouth.
Oral Hygiene - The process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures.
Oral Pathologist - A dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases.
Oral Surgery - Surgery of the mouth.
Orthodontics - A dental specialty that treats misalignment of teeth; an extended treatment that usually consists of braces or a retainer.
Overbite - A vertical overlap of the front teeth.
Overdenture - A denture or prosthetic device that fits over residual roots or dental implants providing better stability for the denture.

P


Panorex - A single full mouth x-ray; also known as a panoramic x-ray.
Partial Dentures - A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces sections of missing teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.
Pediatric Dentistry - A dental specialty focusing on treatment of children’s teeth.
Pedodontics - The dental specialty devoted to the treatment of children.
Pedodontist - A dentist specializing in the treatment of children.
Periapical - The area surrounding the end of a tooth root.
Periodontal Chart - The record measuring the depth of gum pockets around the teeth.
Periodontal Disease - The general term for the inflammation or disease affecting the gums.
Periodontal Surgery - The recontouring or esthetic management of diseased gum and supporting tissue.
Periodontics - Treatment of gums, tissue and bone that supports the teeth.
Periodontist - A dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease.
Periodontitis/Gum Disease - Chronic inflammation and destruction of supporting bone and tissue membrane around the roots of teeth. Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease that requires treatment to prevent eventual tooth and bone loss.
Permanent Teeth - The thirty-two adult teeth in a complete dentition.
Pit - A small defect, indentation or fissure in tooth enamel caused by natural wear and not tooth decay. While not a cavity (pits are not caused by tooth decay) pits bear watching as they are a common area where cavities are likely to form.
Plaque - A sticky substance that forms on the surface of the teeth and harbors bacteria growth and acid formation beneath its surface, causing tooth decay. Plaque buildup can irritate the gums and cause periodontal disease.
Plate - The general term that refers to the roof of the mouth.
Porcelain Crown - An all-porcelain restoration covering the portion of tooth above the gum line. Crowns cover teeth weakened by decay or severely damaged or chipped. Crowns help protect and strengthen the tooth and restore its appearance.
Porcelain Fused to Metal (PRM) Crown - A restoration with metal coping (for strength) covered by porcelain (for appearance).
Porcelain Inlay or Onlay - A tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain, cemented or bonded in place and extended to protect the cusps of the tooth.
Porcelain Veneers - A thin layer of porcelain bonded to a natural tooth to replace lost tooth structure, close spaces, straighten teeth or change color and/or shape.
Preventive Services - The dental procedures concerned with the prevention of dental diseases by protective and educational measures; may include exam, cleanings, x-rays and fluoride.
Prophy - Jet Air polishing teeth for stain removal.
Prophylaxis - A professional cleaning to remove plaque, calculus (mineralized plaque) and stains to help prevent dental disease.
Prosthodontics - The restoration of natural teeth and replacement of missing or lost teeth; common procedures are crowns, bridges, dentures and dental implants.
Prosthodontist - A dentist that specializes in the restoration of natural teeth and replacement of teeth; expertise includes, but is not limited to: crowns, bridges, dentures, dental implants, TMD-jaw joint problems and oral cancer reconstruction.
Provider - The dentist or specialist.
Pulp - The blood vessels and nerve tissue inside a tooth.
Pulp Chamber - The opening in the center of the crown of a tooth which contains the pulp (nerve tissue) and stretches to the tip of the root.
Pulpectomy - The complete removal of the pulp (commonly done in children’s teeth).

Q




R


Radiography - An image produced on photographic film by radiation, such as x-rays passed through an object; also known as "x-rays".
Reimplantation - An insertion and temporary fixation of partially or completely dislodged tooth or teeth, resulting from traumatic injury.
Reline - An acrylic restoration of a denture base.
Resin/Composite Filling - Tooth-colored metal free filling.
Restoration - Replacement of missing or damaged tooth structure with artificial materials.
Retained Root - A partial root structure remaining in jaw after extraction or fracture of a natural tooth.
Retainer - An appliance for maintaining the positions of the teeth and jaws immediately after the completion of orthodontic treatment.
Root - The tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw.
Root Canal - A procedure used to save an abscessed tooth in which the pulp chamber is cleaned out, disinfected, and filled with a permanent filling.
Root Canal Treatment - The removal of the pulp tissue of a tooth due to decay or injury.
Root Planing - The deep cleaning of the teeth to remove hardened plaque below the gum line.
Root Resection - The removal of a portion of diseased root structure, retaining the remaining natural tooth.

S


Scaling - A treatment for gum disease involving removal of hardened plaque (tartar or calculus) from teeth.
Sealant - A plastic coating applied to biting surface or grooves of the teeth to prevent decay.
Space Maintainer - The dental device that holds the space lost through premature loss of baby teeth.
Splint - The connection of two or more teeth so they function as a stronger single structure.
Subscriber - An insured, member or enrollee.
Supernumerary Tooth- An extra tooth.

T


Tartar - The hard residue that builds up on teeth above and below the gum line due to the calcification of plaque.
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) - The problems associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which connects the lower jaw with the skull; typically associated with pops and pain in the joint.
Tooth Whitening - A chemical or laser process to lighten the color of teeth.

U


Ultrasonic Cleaning - A tooth cleaning technique that uses high frequency sound waves to gently remove deposits, tartar and stains, from the teeth.
Unerupted Tooth - A tooth that has not pushed through the gum.

V


Veneers - The plastic or porcelain facing which is bonded directly to a tooth to restore, strengthen or improve its appearance.

W


Whitening - A chemical or laser based process that lightens the color of teeth.
Wisdom Teeth - The third set of molars, the last teeth to come in, usually erupt at age 18-25.

X


Xerostomia - Dry mouth or decrease in the production of saliva. Xerostomia can cause halitosis (chronic bad breath), an increase in the number of cavities and an increase in the number of gum infections. Less saliva means less protection for your teeth, as saliva plays a critical part in remineralizing tooth enamel.

Y




Z


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