Glossary of Terms

A  
Appliance Any removable dental restoration or orthodontic device.
   
C
Calculus Tartar; plaque which has become calcified or hardened.
Cavity The space inside a tooth that remains once decay is removed.
Cheek pouch The area of the mouth inside the cheek.
Crown Portion of tooth covered by enamel; also refers to a dental restoration shaped like the tooth it covers.
   
D
Deciduous teeth Baby teeth; the childhood set of 20 teeth.
Dental caries Decay of teeth; commonly known as ‘cavities’.
Dentine The core of the tooth, covered by enamel.
Dentine hypersensitivity The painful sensation resulting from exposed dentine in your mouth.
Dietary sugar Sugar occurring in your diet, including sugar found in sweets, fruits and processed foods.
   
E
Enamel Extremely hard, protective coating of tooth.
Eruption When teeth first peek through gums.
Explorer A probe used to detect cavity growth.
   
F
Fissures Cleft-like grooves in the chewing surfaces of back teeth.
Fissure sealing A procedure that protects fissures against decay, using a sealant.
Fluoride A chemical compound that helps strengthen teeth as well as reduce tooth decay and sensitivity.
   
G
Gingiva The gums; tissue that supports teeth and covers jawbone.
Gingival Of or pertaining to the gums.
Gingival pocket See gingival sulcus.
Gingival sulcus Gum pocket; space between tooth (including root) and gum tissue.
Gingivitis A reversible gum disease which causes gum tenderness, inflammation and pain.
Gum disease See periodontal disease and gingivitis.
Gum pocket See gingival sulcus.
   
I
Implant A fixture implanted within the jawbone to attach a permanent restoration such as a crown, bridge or denture.
Irrigator An appliance for cleaning above and/or below the gum line, and for distributing therapeutic solutions.
Interdental Between teeth.
   
M
Malocclusion Misalignment of upper and lower teeth.
Molars Large, broad multi-cusped teeth at the back of the mouth.
Mouthguard A soft fitted device that protects teeth against impact or injury.
   
O
Orthodontics An area of dentistry concerned with the correction of malocclusion and the restoration of teeth to proper functioning.
Orthodontist A dental professional who specialises in and corrects irregularities of the teeth.
   
P
Periodontal Of or pertaining to the tissue and bone that support teeth.
Periodontal disease See periodontitis.
Periodontal probe An instrument used to measure pocket depth.
Periodontist A dental professional who specialises in the treatment of disease of the supporting structures of the teeth.
Periodontitis A gum disease that causes inflammation of gums, ligaments and bone structure or bone loss that support teeth; can lead to tooth.
Plaque A sticky, bacteria-containing film which forms on tooth surfaces.
Premolars Two-cusped teeth immediately in front of molars.
Proximal surfaces Areas of tooth adjacent to other teeth.
Pulp Soft, sensitive tissue chamber below the crown, which contains nerves and blood vessels.
   
R
Restoration Any replacement for lost tooth structure or teeth; for example, bridges, fillings, crowns and implants.
   
S
Sensitivity See dentine hypersensitivity.
Subgingival Below the gum line.
Supragingival Above the gum line.
Systemic Affecting the body as a whole.
   
T
Teething Baby teeth pushing through gums.
TMJ The ‘temporomandibular joint’ (TMJ) or commonly known as the ”jaw joint”, is where the lower jaw connects to the base of the skull.
TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) A problem with the temporomandibular joint.
Topical gel Applied to teeth, gums or oral tissue.