Our dentists and team have provided a glossary with descriptions of common dental terms. Please feel free to contact Brookfield Dentistry if you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Darryl Stich, Dr. Emily Schuster and Dr. Michael Cahlamer at our dental office in Brookfield, Wisconsin, contact us today at 262-786-8440!

A
Amalgam – A dental material made from a mixture of metal alloys, including mercury. It is frequently used to provide fillings.
Anesthesia – A type of medication used to relieve discomfort.
Anterior teeth – The front teeth, also known as incisor and cuspid teeth.
Arch – The teeth contained in the upper or lower jaw (e.g. upper dental arch, lower dental arch).
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B
Baby bottle tooth decay – A type of decay which occurs in infants and young children. It typically occurs when the sugars from liquids remain in the mouth for long periods of time.
Bicuspids – Premolar teeth; teeth with two cusps which are pointed or have rounded eminences on or near the chewing surface of the tooth.
Bitewings – A type of X-ray imaging that help to diagnose cavities and other problems.
Bonding – The application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth, usually for cosmetic purposes.
Bridge – A prosthetic restoration designed to replace one or more missing teeth, consisting of one or more prosthetic teeth anchored to the abutment teeth or implants with crowns.
Bruxism – A dental condition more commonly known as teeth grinding.
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C
Calculus – A hard deposit of mineralized substance which forms after plaque and adheres to the crowns and roots of the teeth.
Canal– The narrow chamber inside the tooth’s root.
Canines – Front teeth also known as cuspids.
Canker sore – A sore which occurs on the delicate tissues inside the mouth. It is usually light colored at its base and may have a red exterior border.
Caries – A term used for cavities and tooth decay.
Cold sore – A sore which occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. Cold sores are contagious and are usually painful and filled with fluid.
Composite filling – Dental fillings made of tooth-colored resin material.
Composite resin – Tooth-colored material made of resin combined with silica or porcelain and usually used in dental fillings or other restorative treatments
Contouring – The process of reshaping teeth or gums.
Crown – A restorative treatment consisting of a prosthetic cap which covers the crown, or visible portion, of the tooth to restore it after damage has occurred.
Cusps – The pointed parts on top of the chewing surface of a tooth.
Cuspids – Front teeth which typically have a protruding edge; canines.
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D
Dentin – The layer of the teeth underneath the tooth enamel.
Denture – A removable set of teeth designed to replace missing teeth. Dentures may replace a complete arch or only some of the teeth in the arch.
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E
Endodontics – The field of dental specialty which focuses on treating problems involving the roots or nerves of the teeth.
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F
Fluoride – A naturally occurring mineral which works to strengthen the enamel of your teeth and prevent cavities.
Fluorosis – Tooth discoloration caused by excessive fluoride consumption.
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G
Gingiva – Another word for gum tissue.
Gingivitis – A disease of the gums caused by plaque. Gingivitis is the milder form of periodontal disease.
Gum disease – Infection and inflammation of the gum tissues, also known as periodontal disease.
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I
Impacted teeth – A condition in which a tooth fails to erupt or only partially erupts.
Implant – A prosthetic tooth which replaces the root and crown of a missing tooth or teeth.
Incisor – Teeth with cutting edges located in the center or sides near the front of the dental arch.
Inlay – A restorative treatment to repair tooth damage, recommended when damage does not extend to the cusps of the teeth.
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L
Laminate veneers – Thin, tooth-colored shells which are bonded to the front surface of the teeth to improve their appearance.
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M
Malocclusion – A bad bite.
Mandible – The lower jaw.
Maxilla – The upper jaw.
Molar – The largest teeth, located at the back of the mouth. Molars have large chewing surfaces.
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N
Neuromuscular Dentistry – A type of dentistry which addresses the aches and pains felt in and around the neck and head, often associated with your jaw and teeth.
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O
Onlay – A type of dental restoration used to repair damaged teeth, usually recommended when damage extends to the chewing surface of the tooth.
Orthodontics – A field of dental specialty which deals in the alignment and function of the teeth and jaws.
Overdenture – A prosthetic replacement option for multiple teeth which is fixed on implants and can be “snapped on” as desired.
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P
Palate – The roof of the mouth.
Partial denture – A removable appliance that replaces missing teeth, typically recommended when some natural teeth remain.
Pediatric Dentistry – A field of dental specialty that focuses on providing care for children.
Periodontal pocket – The space between the gums and teeth where bacteria can congregate.
Periodontal disease – Infection and inflammation of the gum tissues. Also known as gum disease.
Periodontist – A dental specialist who treats diseases and problems with the gums.
Permanent teeth – The teeth that erupt after primary teeth. Also called adult teeth.
Plaque – A sticky, colorless substance that covers the teeth and is removed by brushing and flossing.
Posterior teeth – The bicuspids and molars. Also called the back teeth.
Primary teeth – A person’s first set of teeth. Also called baby teeth or temporary teeth.
Prophylaxis – Another word for dental cleanings.
Prosthodontics – A field of dental specialty that focuses on restoring and replacing the teeth.
Pulp – The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood, nerves and connective tissue.
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R
Receding gums – A condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, exposing the root and allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth’s enamel and surrounding bone.
Resin filling – An artificial filling material used to restore teeth. Also known as a composite filling.
Root canal – An endodontic procedure in which infected pulp or tooth nerve is removed and the inner tooth canal cleaned and filled.
Root planing – A process which involves scraping and cleaning the teeth and tooth roots to remove a buildup of plaque and tartar (calculus) below the gum line.
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S
Sealant – A material painted onto the surfaces of the teeth to protect them from cavities and prevent damage to the teeth.
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T
TMJ – Temporomandibular joint. Also known as TMJ disorder or dysfunction, this phrase is often used to describe problems related to the jaw joint.
Tarter – A hardened substances which develops when plaque is not removed and which sticks to the surface of the teeth. Also known as calculus.
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V
Veneer – A thin, tooth-colored shell or laminate which is bonded to the front surface of the teeth to improve their appearance.
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W
Whitening – A process which lightens stains and discolorations to improve the appearance of the teeth. Also known as teeth bleaching.
Wisdom teeth – The third set of molars. These teeth typically erupt last and are frequently removed as there is not space in the mouth for them.
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