This glossary contains terms and definitions included on this website that are used daily by the dental community and our staff in the delivering of patient care and the processing of their claims.  This glossary is not a full list.  These glossary terms and definitions are intended to be educational and may be different from the terms and definitions in your plan.  (See your Summary of Benefits and Coverage for information on how to get a copy of your policy or plan document.)


For a detailed list of dental terms and definitions, please visit the American Dental Association's Glossary of Dental Clinical and Administrative Terms.


Bold blue text indicates a term defined in this Glossary. 


Abutment – Tooth or root that retains or supports a bridge or a fixed or removable prosthesis.


Amalgam Fillings – An alloy of mercury, silver and other metals, used as a restorative material and in making dies.  Silver amalgam is made to composition specifications which include silver, tin, copper, and zinc.


Anesthesia (General) – The condition produced by the administration of specific agents to achieve the loss of conscious pain response in a specific location or area of the body.


Anesthesia (Local) – The condition produced by the administration of specific agents to achieve the patient completely unconscious.


Anesthetic – A drug that produces loss of feeling or sensation either generally or locally.


Appliance – A device used to provide function or therapeutic (healing) effect.


Bitewing – Dental X-ray showing approximately the coronal (crown) halves of the upper and lower teeth.


Composite Resin FillingsFillings created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings.  They are tooth fillings colored to look like a natural tooth and are made of plastic dental resin.


Crown – A prosthesis that is used to restore a tooth to proper occlusion, contact and contour.  It may be placed as a restoration or as an abutment for a fixed prosthetic.


Dental Hygienist – A person who has been trained and licensed by the state to perform dental cleanings under the direction of a licensed dentist to remove calcareous deposits and stains from the surfaces of the teeth, and in providing additional services and information on the prevention of oral disease.


Dental Implants – Fixtures of titanium which are surgically screwed into the jaw bone.  The implant is an anchor for a natural-appearing false tooth or set of false teeth.


Dentist – A person who is either of these: a) A licensed dentist acting within the scope of the license; b) Any other doctor furnishing dental services that the doctor is licensed to perform.


Denture – A device replacing missing teeth (complete or partial).


Doctor – A licensed practitioner of the healing arts acting within the scope of the license.


Endodontics – The practice of endodontology; the science of diagnosis, prevention and treatment of pathological conditions within the pulp chamber or

apical of the tooth root.


Fillings – A restorative material applied (temporary or permanently) to a tooth. (see Amalgam Fillings and Composite Resin Fillings).


Fixed Appliance – A device used to provide function or therapeutic (healing) effect that is cemented to the teeth or attached by adhesive materials.


Fixed Bridgework – Artificial teeth (pontics) retained with crowns or inlays cemented to the natural teeth, which are used as abutments.


Fluoride – A solution of fluorine which is applied topically to the teeth for the purpose of preventing dental decay.


Impression – A negative reproduction of a given area.  Example: in bridgework, an impression of a tooth (abutment) which has been prepared for an

inlay or crown. 


Inlay – A restoration made to fit a prepared tooth cavity then cemented into place.


Onlay – An occlusal rest or restoration that is extended to cover the entire surface of the tooth.


Orthodontics – The practice of dentistry concerning the supervision, guidance and correction of the growing or mature dental structures.  This includes

conditions requiring movement/correction of teeth which are not correctly aligned, involving adjustment of relationships between and among teeth and

facial bones.


Partial Denture – A prosthesis that replaces one or more, but less than all, of the natural teeth and associated structures which is supported by the

teeth and/or the gums; may be removable or fixed, one side or two sides.


Periodontics – The practice of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease of the supporting and surrounding

tissue of the teeth (gums) or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues.


Periapical – Enclosing or surrounding the tissues and bony sockets of the teeth.


Pontic – The part of a fixed bridge which replaces a missing tooth or teeth.


Prophylaxis – The removal of tartar and stains from teeth.  The cleaning of the teeth by a dentist or dental hygienist.


Prosthesis – An artificial replacement of one or more natural teeth and/or associated structures.


Prosthetic Appliance – A device used to provide replacement for a missing tooth.


Prosthodontics – The practice of dentistry pertaining to the restoration and maintenance of oral function, comfort, appearance, and health of a patient

by the restoration of natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth and tissues with artificial substitutes.


Removable Bridgework – A partial denture retained by attachments which permit removal of the denture; normally held by clasps.


Restoration – A broad term applied to any inlay, crown, bridge, partial denture, or complete denture that restores or replaces loss of tooth structure,

teeth or oral tissue.  The term applies to the end result of repairing and restoring or reforming the shape, form, and function of part or all of a tooth or teeth.


Root Canal Therapy – (Endodontic Therapy) Treatment of a tooth having a damaged pulp.  Usually performed by completely removing the pulp, sterilizing the pulp chamber and root canal, then filling spaces with sealing material.


Scale – To remove calculus (tartar) and stain from teeth with special instruments.


Sealant - The method of attempting to prevent decay in the pits and fissures of the teeth (the developmental groves that occur naturally on the occlusal

surfaces of permanent bicuspids and molars).


Space Maintainer – The space maintainer is considered a “passive” appliance in that it does not move teeth.  It is intended to retain the adjacent teeth

in their proper position, prevent the space from closing, prevent the opposing tooth from extruding and maintain the overall occlusion (bite).


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) - Temporomandibular Joint is the joint by the two condyles of the mandible.


TMJ Syndrome – Symptoms consisting of pain in the muscles of mastication and jaw joints, clicking in the jaw, and limitations in jaw movements.


Topical – Painting the surface of teeth as in fluoride treatment, or application of a cream-like anesthetic formula to the surface of the gum.


Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) – The amount paid for a service in a geographical area based on what providers in the area usually charge for the same or similar service.


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