Common Dentist Terminology
Dental Terminology Anaheim CA

Dental Glossary

Dental Terminology in Anaheim, CA

We recognize that there may be a disparity in dental knowledge between you and your Anaheim dentist. As dental professionals, we use specialized terminology frequently, whereas you may not encounter these terms as often. If you visit our modern Anaheim dental office or look through our dental blogs, you may encounter some terms that you are unfamiliar with. That’s why we have compiled this guide to assist you in comprehending some of the common dental jargon used by your Anaheim dentist and their team.

Anaheim Dental Glossary


Abrasion -

Abrasion refers to the wear and tear of enamel caused by factors such as biting nails, using teeth to open bottles, or grinding teeth.

Abscess -

A painful swelling on the gum tissue, often filled with pus, that results from a bacterial infection in the tooth or gums. If left untreated, the abscess can become more painful and swollen.

Abutment -

A support structure used in dental bridges or implants to hold the false tooth or prosthetic in place.

Advanced Periodontitis -

The final stage of gum disease that results in the destruction of the bone and fibers that support the teeth. Teeth may become loose or shift, and tooth removal may be necessary if treatment is unsuccessful.

Air Abrasion -

A dental technique that involves the use of abrasive air to remove decay from teeth without the need for an anesthetic.

Amalgam Filling -

A type of filling material containing mercury, which was commonly used in the past due to its durability and low cost. However, most dentists now use composite filling material instead.

Anterior Teeth -

The front six upper and lower teeth, including the central and lateral incisors and canines.

Apicoectomy -

A surgical procedure that seals the root tip of a tooth when traditional root canal treatment is not successful.

Attrition -

The process of tooth wear and tear due to normal use over time.


Baby Teeth -

Also known as primary teeth or deciduous teeth, these are the initial set of teeth that develop in infants.

Bicuspids -

These are teeth with two cusps, located in front of molars and behind canines. Bicuspids are also referred to as premolars and aid in chewing food.


A diagnostic test where a tissue sample is taken from the oral cavity to check for diseases such as oral cancer.

Bite -

The way the upper and lower teeth come together when the mouth is closed. This is also called occlusion.

Bitewings -

A type of dental X-ray that provides a view of the upper and lower teeth in a specific area. This X-ray is commonly used to detect decay between teeth.

Bleeding Gums -

While occasional bleeding of gums after brushing or flossing can be normal, consistent or excessive bleeding could be a sign of inflammation or gingivitis.

Bonding -

A cosmetic dental procedure where composite resin material is applied to the front or back of teeth to improve their appearance. Bonding can be used to fill cavities or repair chipped, cracked, or discolored teeth.

Bridges -

A dental restoration that replaces missing teeth by anchoring an artificial tooth to adjacent teeth or dental implants. Bridges can restore function and aesthetics.

Bruxism -

The grinding or clenching of teeth, especially during sleep or when under stress. Bruxism can lead to tooth wear and jaw pain if left untreated.


Calculus -

Also called tartar, this is a term for the hardened plaque that forms as a result of poor oral hygiene practices.

Canines -

The pointed teeth located next to the incisors on both sides of the jaw that are used to tear food. They are also known as cuspids.

Caries -

The scientific term for tooth decay, which is preventable by practicing good oral hygiene habits and receiving regular fluoride treatments.

Cavities -

A common dental issue that occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acid from sugar, causing decay and erosion of the tooth enamel.

Closed Bite -

Also known as a deep bite, this is a condition where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth excessively when biting down.

Composite Filling -

A dental filling material made of a mixture of plastic and glass particles that matches the color of natural teeth, providing a more aesthetically pleasing result.

Cosmetic Dentistry -

The branch of dentistry focused on improving the appearance of teeth and smiles through various treatments, including teeth whitening, veneers, and orthodontics.

Crowding -

A condition in which there are too many teeth in a limited space in the mouth, often requiring orthodontic treatment.

Crowns -

A dental restoration used to cover a damaged or decayed tooth, which may also be referred to as a cap. It is designed to resemble the shape and color of the original tooth.

Cuspids -

The teeth located next to the front incisors that have a pointed shape and are used for tearing food. They are also known as canines.


Decalcification -

Decalcification refers to the loss of calcium from the teeth, which can weaken them and make them more susceptible to decay.

Deciduous Teeth -

Deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth, are the first set of teeth that you develop.

Dental Implant -

A dental prosthesis that serves as a support for dentures or replaces missing teeth. It involves placing an artificial root into the gum, over which a denture, bridge, or crown is placed to restore tooth function and aesthetics.

Denture Reline -

The process of resurfacing the interior of an ill-fitting denture to improve its fit and stability.

Dentin -

Dentin is the porous layer that surrounds and protects the tooth's nerve. When it is exposed, it can cause tooth sensitivity.

Dentures -

Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth, designed to be comfortable and natural-looking. They come in partial or full sets.

Digital X-rays -

Digital x-rays are an instant diagnostic tool that requires no waiting or film developing. They can be colorized, magnified, and manipulated for more in-depth information, and they significantly reduce radiation exposure.


Edentulous -

Fully lacking teeth in one arch. If a patient lacks teeth in both arches, they are considered completely edentulous.

Enamel -

The outer layer of the tooth that is tough and white, safeguarding the underlying dentin.

Endodontics -

A specialized field of dentistry that deals with the treatment of the dental root. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in endodontics.

Erosion -

A chemical process caused by acids that corrode the enamel of the tooth. These acids can originate from your diet or be gastric.


Fixed Appliances

Dental prostheses that are affixed or cemented to the teeth, such as dental bridges.

Fluoride -

A naturally occurring mineral found in water and the Earth's crust that is also present in toothpaste. It aids in strengthening enamel and preventing cavities.

Fluorosis -

A cosmetic condition in which the enamel of the tooth is discolored, resulting in brown stains, pitting, or white lines/specks on the teeth. This condition is harmless, but some individuals may choose to undergo cosmetic treatment for it.


Gingival Recession -

A dental condition in which the gums pull away from the teeth, exposing the roots. It's often caused by gum disease and can lead to bone loss and tooth loss if left untreated.

Gingivitis -

The initial phase of gum disease, characterized by swollen, red gums that may be tender and may bleed lightly while brushing or flossing.

Gum Disease -

An inflammatory condition of the gums that can be caused by acidic substances, plaque bacteria, and certain foods. It can lead to gum inflammation and affect the supporting bone and teeth.

Gum Recession -

A condition where the roots of the teeth become exposed due to the recession of the gum line. This can be caused by surgical procedures, periodontal disease, or abrasion.


Halitosis -

A condition characterized by unpleasant or foul-smelling breath.

Hygienist -

A licensed dental professional who performs essential dental care services such as taking x-rays, cleaning teeth, and providing oral hygiene education.


Impacted Tooth -

A tooth that cannot develop fully or emerge completely into the mouth due to inadequate space.

Incisors -

The four front teeth (two on top and two on the bottom) that are used for biting and cutting food.


The area between adjacent teeth.



Relating to the lips, it can describe either the lips themselves or the surface of a tooth that faces or touches the lips.

Laser Gum Treatment -

Dental lasers can be used to treat various gum diseases, enabling gum tissue to be restored without the need for surgery, stitches, or incisions.


Relating to the tongue, it can describe either the tongue itself or the surface of a tooth that faces or touches the tongue.


Malocclusion -

An improper or misaligned bite that can result in difficulty chewing or speaking.

Mandible -

The lower jawbone that supports the lower teeth and connects to the skull.

Maxilla -

The upper jawbone that forms the roof of the mouth and supports the upper teeth.

Molars -

The large teeth at the back of the mouth that have several cusps on the biting surface to aid in grinding and chewing food.


Nerve -

The pain sensor of your tooth, the nerve is located in the center of your tooth and makes up part of the pulp.


Occlusal -

Refers to the biting surfaces of teeth.

Occlusion -

The way teeth fit together when the jaws are closed. Proper occlusion helps protect teeth, jaw joints, and facial muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Oral Cancer -

A type of cancer that commonly develops in the mouth, throat, or lips and can cause sores that do not heal and tend to bleed.

Oral Hygiene -

The daily care required to maintain good oral health, including eating a balanced diet, regularly flossing and brushing teeth, and visiting the dentist for checkups and cleanings.

Orthodontic Retainer -

A custom-made device used after braces or other orthodontic treatments to help maintain the new position of teeth and prevent them from shifting back to their original position.

Orthodontics -

The dental specialty that focuses on correcting and aligning irregularities of the teeth and jaws to achieve proper occlusion.

Orthodontist -

A dental specialist who diagnoses and treats malocclusions and other irregularities of the teeth and jaws.

Overbite -

A type of malocclusion in which the upper front teeth protrude beyond the lower front teeth, often referred to as “buck teeth” when the overbite is moderate to severe.


Palate -

The anatomical structure that forms the roof of the mouth, consisting of both hard and soft tissues.

Periodontal Disease -

An oral condition also known as gum disease, caused by bacterial infection and inflammation that affects the tissues supporting the teeth.

Periodontitis -

An advanced stage of gum disease, characterized by damage to the bone and connective tissue that anchor the teeth to the jawbone, leading to loosening and potential loss of teeth.

Plaque -

A sticky, colorless film of bacteria that adheres to the surface of the teeth and gums, contributing to tooth decay and gum disease if not removed by regular brushing and flossing.

Porcelain Veneers -

Thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored material that are attached to the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance by changing their color, shape, size, or length.


The back region of the mouth, referring to the teeth located towards the rear, including the molars and premolars.

Premolars (Bicuspids) -

The teeth located between the canines and molars, used for chewing and grinding food.

Prophylaxis (Prophy)

A preventive dental procedure, also known as a teeth cleaning, involving the removal of plaque, tartar, and stains from the teeth, helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Pulpitis -

Inflammation of the pulp tissue within the tooth, often caused by untreated tooth decay or trauma, resulting in toothache and sensitivity.



An imaging technique that uses x-rays to capture an image of the teeth and surrounding structures. Different types of radiographs include periapical, bitewing, and panoramic x-rays.

Root Canal Therapy -

A dental treatment that involves removing the nerve and pulp from the inside of a tooth to prevent infection and save the tooth from extraction. The canals are then cleaned and filled with a material called gutta-percha.


Scaling and Root Planing -

Scaling refers to the removal of plaque, tartar, and stains from teeth during a cleaning appointment. Root planing, also known as a "deep cleaning," is a procedure where the hygienist smooths the roots below the gumline to make it more difficult for plaque to accumulate on these surfaces.

Supernumerary Teeth -

These are extra teeth that may occur when someone is born with more than the typical number of teeth (over 32) or an excess number of a specific type of tooth, such as an incisor, canine, or bicuspid.


Tartar -

Tartar is the hardening of plaque on the tooth or underneath the gum line. If not treated, it can cause damage to the gums and teeth.

Teeth Whitening -

This process removes discoloration and stains from teeth, restoring them to their original color. Regular maintenance is required to keep teeth white.

Temporary Crown -

While waiting for a permanent crown, a temporary crown made of stainless steel or acrylic may be placed.

Temporary Filling -

After removing tooth decay, a temporary filling made of gold, amalgam, or composite resin is used.

Temporomandibular Joint

This joint connects the lower jawbone (maxilla) to the skull, allowing the lower jaw to move forward and back and side to side.

Tooth Decay -

Tooth decay is the erosion of tooth enamel caused by acid, resulting in demineralization. If left untreated, it can progress towards the pulp of the tooth.

Tooth Sensitivity -

Tooth sensitivity refers to pain caused by exposed dentin, often due to periodontal disease or receding gums.


Underbite -

An abnormal dental condition where the lower front teeth protrude beyond the upper front teeth, causing an abnormal bite.

Unerupted Tooth -

A tooth that has not emerged from the gum and remains trapped beneath it, unable to attain its proper position in the dental arch.


Veneers -

Porcelain shells that are used to enhance the appearance of teeth that are abnormally spaced, misaligned, worn down, stained, or chipped. They are bonded to the original teeth and create a natural-looking and durable covering.


Wisdom Teeth -

The third set of molars, typically appearing between the ages of 17 and 25, are the last teeth to emerge in the mouth. Most individuals have four wisdom teeth - two on the top and two on the bottom. However, some people may not develop any or all of their wisdom teeth. These teeth can cause problems if they are not properly aligned or if there is not enough space in the mouth for them to emerge.


X-Ray/Dental X-Ray -

A diagnostic tool that uses electromagnetic radiation to produce images of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues inside the mouth. This allows dentists to detect and diagnose various dental conditions that may not be visible during a regular oral exam.

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