Dental Services Dental Glossary

Dental Glossary

Names Of Individual Teeth 

Palmer’s Notation
Palmer’s notation is a widely used method to designate individual teeth. In Palmer’s notation, your mouth is divided into four parts called quadrants, that is the upper left quadrant, the upper right quadrant, the lower left quadrant, and the lower right quadrant as illustrated in the figure on the right. Then each individual tooth in the quadrant is given a name. For example the two upper and two lower teeth at the center of your mouth are called central’s. One then combines the names of the quadrant and the tooth to come up with a Palmer’s notation. For example, the central on the upper right side of your mouth is called an upper right central. 

The Remaining Teeth Are Designated As Follows: 

Central
The two upper and two lower teeth in the very center of your mouth. 

Lateral
The teeth just adjacent to the centrals. 

Cuspid
The pointy teeth just behind the laterals. These teeth have one cuspal (or point). Cuspids are also called canines. 

First Bicuspid
The teeth just behind the cuspids. These teeth have two cuspals (or points) 

Second Bicuspid
The teeth just behind the first bicuspids. These teeth also have two cuspals (or points) 

First Molar
The teeth just behind the second bicuspids. These teeth have a level surface with four cuspals. 

Second Molar
The teeth just behind the first. These teeth also have a level surface with four cuspals. 

Third Molar
The teeth just behind the second molars. These teeth also have a level surface with four cuspals. 

Other Names For Teeth: 

Incisor
Another name for the centrals and laterals 

Canine
Another name for the cuspids 

6 year molar
Another name for your first molar 

12 year molar
Another name for your second molar 

Wisdom Tooth
Another name for the third molar 

Anterior Teeth
Your centrals, laterals, and cuspids. These are the teeth in the front of your mouth 

Posterior Teeth
Your bicuspids and molars. These are the teeth in the back of your mouth. 

Deciduous Teeth
Your primary, or “baby teeth” 

Primary teeth
The first set of teeth which come in. Primary teeth are also called “baby teeth” or deciduous teeth. 

Secondary Teeth
Your permenant teeth, i.e. the second group of teeth to come in. 

Quadrants
The four parts of your mouth, that is the upper left, the upper right, the lower left, and the lower right. 

Numerical notation for teeth
The numerical notation for teeth is an alternate to Palmer’s notation. In this notation, the centrals are designated as 1’s, the laterals as 2’s, the cuspids as 3’s, the first bicuspids as 4’s, the seond bicuspid’s as 5’s, etc. 

Universal numerical notation for teeth
The universal numerical notation is an alternative numerical notation for teeth. In this notation, your upper right third molar is designated as tooth#1, and then you number each tooth sequentially moving right to left and down across your mouth. 

Parts Of A Tooth And Your Mouth 

Alveolus
A opening in your jaw-bone in which a tooth is attached. 

Apex
The very bottom of the root of your tooth 

Buccal
The tooth surface which is next to your cheeks. Usually only posterior teeth touch your cheeks, so people usually use the term “buccal” only when talking about your back teeth. 

Cementum
A bony substance covering the root of a tooth. 

Crown
The part of your tooth above your gum. 

Cuspal
The chewing or tearing points of the cuspids, bicuspids, and molars. 

Dentin
The calcium part of a tooth below the enamel containing the pulp chamber and root canals. 

Enamel
A hard ceramic which covers the exposed part of your teeth. 

Frenum
Small pieces of pink colored skin that attach your lips, cheeks and tongue to your mouth. Examples include the piece of skin under your tounge which sticks out when you pick up your tongue, and the piece of skin which sticks out when you pull out your lips. 

Gingivae
Another name for your gums 

Gums
The pink areas around your teeth 

Pulp
The soft inner structure of a tooth, consisting of nerve and blood vessels 

Pulp Chamber
The very inner part of your tooth containing nerve cells and blood vessels. 

Pulp Canal
Another name for the pulp chamber 

Root
The part of your tooth in your gums 

Other Dental Terms 

Abutment
The teeth on either side of a missing tooth. 

Amalgam
A silver/mercury mixture which is used for fillings. 

Anatomy

  1. The arrangement of the bones in your skeleton
  2. The study of the arrangement of the bones in your skeleton.

Antiseptic
A chemical agent which can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs. 

Anesthetic
A drug which a doctor or dentist uses to put you, your mouth, or some other part of your body asleep so you do not feel any pain during dental or medical procedures. 

Anterior
An adjective used to describe things pertaining to your Centrals, laterals and cuspids (your front teeth). 

Arch
Collectively, either the teeth or the basal bone of either jaw. 

Articulator
A special holder for models of your teeth. The articulator holds the models in the same alignment as your jaw so the orthodontist can look carefully at your bite. 

Asepsis
The avoidance of potentially pathogenic microorganism. In practice, it refers to those techniques which aims to exclude all microorganisms. 

Aspirator
A tube like a straw which the dentist puts in your mouth to suck up all the saliva. 

Aspiration

Removal of fluids from your mouth with an aspirator. 

Bruxism
Clenching or grinding of your teeth especially at night. 

Calculus
A hard deposit that forms when you do not brush your teeth so the plaque hardens. Calculus is also known as tartar. 

Caries
Another name for a cavities (tooth decay) 

Cavity
A small hole in one of your teeth caused by tooth decay. 

Cross Contamination
Passing bacteria, viruses or AIDS indirectly from one patient to another through the use of improper sterilization procedures, unclean instruments, or “recycling” of orthodontic products. 

Crown

  1. An artificial tooth
  2. An artificial replacement for the covering on a tooth

Curettage 
A periodontal procedure where your gums are scraped to remove bacteria. 

Decalcification
The loss of calcium from your teeth. This weakens your teeth and makes them more susceptible to decay 

Denture
A synthetic replacement for all of your teeth in either your upper or your lower jaw. 

Diagnosis
the process of identifying the nature of a disorder. 

Direct Contamination
Direct contact with impurities or germs. (for example by a Patient sneezing on the assistant.) 

Disinfection
A cleaning process which destroys of most microorganism, but not highly resistant forms such as bacterial and mycotic spores or the AIDS virus. 

Disinfectant
A chemical agent which is applied onto inanimate surfaces, for example chairs, to destroy germs. 

Disposable Materials
materials intended for one use and discarded. (e.g.: Gloves, paper gowns, cotton rolls, sponges, etc.) 

Distal
Behind towards the back of the mouth. For example you might say that the first bicuspid is distal to the cuspid. 

Edentulous
Someone is said to be edentulous when all of their teeth are missing from either their upper or lower jaw. 

Endodontist (Endo)
A dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tips or nerves in your teeth. 

Erupt, Eruption
When a new tooth comes in, the tooth is said to erupt when the tooth breaks through the surface of your gums, so you can see the tooth in your mouth. 

Exfoliate
To fall out. (Your Deciduous teeth exfoliate and permanent teeth erupt into the space.) 

Extraoral
Outside of your mouth. For example, neck pads are said to be extra oral products since they go outside of your mouth. 

Filtrum
The dimple or indentation under the nose directly above the upper lip. 

Fluoride
A chemical solution or gel which you put on your teeth. The fluoride hardens your teeth and prevents tooth decay. 

Gingival Hypertrophy
The abnormal enlargement of the gingival surrounding the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene. 

Gingivitis

The inflammation of your gums caused by improper brushing. The first sign of periodontal (gum) disease. 

Impacted Tooth
An non-erupted tooth that somehow has gotten stuck and can not come in. 

Implant
A replacement for one of your missing teeth. The implant is different than a bridge in that the implant is permanently attached into your jaw. 

Incisal
The biting edge of your centrals and laterals. 

Interproximal
The space between adjacent teeth. 

Intraoral
Inside your mouth. For example, orthodontic rubber bands are called intraoral products since the rubber bands are designed to go in your mouth. 

Irrigation

The technique of using a solution to wash out your mouth and to flush debris. 

Labial
The tooth surface next to your lips or things mounted on the tooth surfaces next to your lips. 

Lingual
The tooth surface next to your tongue or things mounted on the tooth surfaces next to your tongue. 

Mandible
Your lower jaw. 

Mandibular
Pertaining to your lower jaw. 

Masticate
To chew your food and mix the food with saliva. 

Maxilla
Your upper jaw. 

Maxillary
Pertaining to your upper jaw. 

Mesial
Forward or front. For example your cuspid is mesial to you bicuspid. The mesial surface of your bicuspid is the part of the bicuspid closest to your cuspid. 

Midline
A plane through the very center of your mouth perpendicular to your nose. 

Mixed Dentition
The situation when both deciduous and permanent teeth are present. 

Occlusal
The chewing or grinding surface of the bicuspid and molar teeth. 

Occlusal Plane
The imaginary surface on which upper and lower teeth meet. 

Occlusal Radiograph
The only x-ray that is taken without a precision(tm) x-ray holder. The x-ray film for this procedure is shaped like a large oatmeal cookie. You are asked to bite on the x-ray film and the top of the x-ray machine is positioned over your nose for a maxillary occlusal x-ray or under your chin for a mandibular occlusal film. The x- ray shows the whole arch. 

Oral
Pertaining to the mouth. 

Osteoblasts
Cells which aid the growth and development of teeth and bones. 

Osteoclasts
Cells which help create the sockets in bones. For example osteoclasps create the openings in your jaw bone to hold your teeth. 

Pathogens
Disease producing organisms that can exist in many different places. (e.g.: Air, dust, counter top surfaces, the body, etc.) 

Pathology
The study of abnormal (diseased) tissue conditions. 

Pedodontist (Pedo)
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of children’s teeth. 

Periapical
X-ray of individual teeth or groups of teeth. 

Periodontist (Perio)

A dentist who specializes in the treatment of diseases of your gums. 

Plaque
Is a colorless, odorless, sticky substance containing acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay. 

Periodontal
Pertaining to your gums. For example periodontal disease is gum disease. 

Periodontist
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease. 

Posterior
An adjective used to describe things pertaining to the back of your mouth or your back teeth. 

Prophylaxis
Cleaning your teeth. 

Prosthodontist
A dentist who specializes in the replacement of missing teeth. 

Proximal
Refers to the surfaces of teeth that touch the next tooth; the space between adjacent teeth is the interproximal space. 

Radiograph
Another name for an x-ray. 

Root Canal
A procedure where the nerve of a heavily decayed tooth is removed from the tooth replaced with a filling material. 

Sagittal Plane
The longitudinal vertical plane that divides the mouth into two halves (left and right.) 

Sanitization
A cleaning process which reduces germs to a “safe” level. 

Space Maintainer
A gadget used to maintain a space in your mouth. You would use a space maintainer when you lose one of your baby teeth. The space maintainer will keep a space in your mouth until a permanent tooth comes in to fill the space. 

Sterilization
A process where a medical material is treated to remove all possible germs and other forms of life. 

Supernumerary Teeth
Some people have extra teeth. These are called “supernumerary teeth”. 

Tartar
Another name for calculus. 

TMJ
An abbreviation for the “temporomandibular joint” The “temporomandibular joint” is the joint where your lower jaw connects to your skull. 
Treatment card
A sheet of paper or special index card used to record your treatment progress.

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