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Going to the Dentist Vocabulary Word List

A
abscess
ache
acid
adult teeth
alignment
amalgam
anesthesia
anesthetic
appointment
assistant
B
baby teeth
bacteria
bands
bib
bicuspid
bite
braces
bridge
bristle
brush
C
canine
caps
caries
cavity
cement
checkup
chew
cleaning
consultation
correction
crown
cuspid

D
decay
degree
dental
dental school
dentist
dentures
diagnosis
diploma
drill
E
eat
education
enamel
endodontics
exam
examination
F
face
false teeth
fear
filling
floss
fluoride
food
front teeth
G
gargle
gingivitis
gold
gums

H
health
healthy
hurt
hygiene
hygienist
I
impacted
implant
impression
incision
incisor
infection
inflammation
injection
injury
inlay
instrument
insurance
J
jaw
L
lab
laboratory
lips
local
local anesthesia
M
malocclusion
medication
medicine
molar
mold
mouth

N
needle
nerve
numb
nurse
O
office
open
operate
oral surgery
orthodontist
overbite
P
pain
painful
painless
palate
permanent teeth
partial
patient
periodontal
plaque
premolar
prevention
primary teeth
protect
pull
pulp
pyorrhea
R
remedy
retainer
rinse
root
root canal
rubber bands

More on Teeth
More Word Banks
S
sealant
shot
sink
smile
sugar
surgery
suture
sweets
T
teeth
tissue
tooth
toothache
toothbrush
tooth fairy
toothpaste
toothpick
treatment
U
underbite
W
white
whiten
wisdom tooth
wisdom teeth
X
x-ray

Going to the dentist


Dentists recommend that you go for a check-up at least twice a year. At the same time as you
see the dentist, you can also make an appointment with the dental hygienist who will clean and
polish your teeth for you.

The dentist checks that your teeth are in good condition. If you have a hole, or a cavity, you may
need a filling, which is a small amount of porcelain that the dentist uses to fill the hole. Many
adults have one or more fillings often in their back teeth or molars.
You may have more serious problems with your teeth and occasionally the dentist will need to
take an X-ray to see the damage to your teeth more clearly. For example, a tooth may be so
rotten that the dentist recommends an extraction (where the tooth is removed) or you may need
root canal work, where the dentist repairs damage to the roots of a tooth. In both of these
occasions, you will need an anaesthetic so that you cannot feel the pain. (Unfortunately, you will
still be able to hear the sound of the dentist's drill, the metal instrument used to open up the
tooth.)
Some adults also experience problems with their wisdom teeth. There are four of these teeth:
two top teeth, and two bottom teeth at the extreme left and right of the mouth. If they don't come
down properly, they can become painful and need to be removed.
If you fall over and knock out one of your front teeth, the dentist may be able to fit a false
tooth. The dentist can also repair teeth which have disintegrated, by putting a cap on the tooth,
to stop it disintegrating further.
Specialist dentists (called orthodontists) can straighten teeth which are crooked. They put
braces (wires) on the teeth to do this. Many children need to have this work done.
Finally, "prevention is better than cure". Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth twice a
day, and floss your teeth to remove any food between your teeth. An antibacterial mouthwash
will help to avoid the build-up of plaque
Dental vocabulary

Here is some vocabulary related to dentistry and teeth


People who work in dentistry
a dentist
a person whose job is treating and looking after people's teeth
a receptionist
a person who books appointments, greets patients and looks after the
paper work of a dentist (or other business)
a dental hygienist

a person who works with a dentist and cleans people's teeth to keep them
healthy
an oral surgeon
a doctor who works in a hospital and who operates on patients' mouths
Keeping your teeth healthy
floss
clean the areas between your teeth using dental floss (a
type of thread) to help stop plaque building up on your
teeth
You should floss between you teeth to keep your teeth
healthy.
clean/ brush
use a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your teeth and
gums
I clean my teeth three times a day (once after each
main meal).
rinse with / use mouthwash
put a special liquid into your mouth but spit it out
instead of swallowing it. The liquid (mouthwash) helps
keep your mouth clean and smelling fresh
There was so much garlic in that pizza, I'll need to use
a lot of mouthwash if I've got any chance of kissing
her!
Problems with teeth
plaque (noun, uncountable)
a substance containing bacteria that forms on the
surface of teeth
If you don't brush your teeth properly and regularly,
plaque will build up on them.
decay (noun, uncountable)
gradual damage over time
She eats so many sweets and never goes to the dentist
so it's no surprise she's got so much tooth decay.

a cavity
a hole in a tooth (caused by decay) I've got to get a
filling because I've got a cavity in one of my back
teeth.
Ways the dentist helps with dental problems
a filling
what a dentist uses to fill a cavity (or hole) in your
tooth
Khalid went to the dentist because his filling fell out
and he needed to get another one.
dentures / false teeth
manufactured teeth fixed to a small piece of plastic or
similar material, which fits inside your mouth, if you
don't have your own teeth
I always laugh when I see my granddad without his
false teeth. He looks like a baby when he smiles and
all you see is his gums.
a bridge
a piece of material that has one or more artificial (or
false) teeth and which is kept in place by being
attached to the natural teeth near the artificial one
After she lost a tooth in an accident, she had a bridge
put in. You couldn't tell which was her tooth and which
one was the false one.
a crown (noun)
an artificial piece of material that is used to cover a
damaged tooth
When he chipped his front tooth, the dentist gave him a
crown.
crown (verb)
put a cover over a damaged tooth
He fell off his bike and broke both his front teeth. So
he had to get them crowned.
Vocabulary

trauma
very upsetting experience that causes someone to feel
strong emotional shock or pain (often much later after
the initial experience)
terrified
very frightened or scared
change your mind
make you have a different opinion to the one you had
before
dental history
information about your previous visits to the dentist
a filling
what a dentist uses to fill a cavity (or hole) in your
tooth
sugary
things made from sugar, honey or other sweet
ingredients

Write the correct word (from the list on the right) to describe each picture:
scalers
lamp
enamel
mirror
chair
nerve
basin
drill
filling
cavity
crown
clinic
gum

1.

2.

3.

4.

dentist's

5.

6.

7.

8.

amalgam

9.

dental

10.

(or "picks")

Clear Answers

Dentistry Vocabulary Word List (197)


A)
B)

Abscess,
Accreditation,
Ache,Benchmark,
Amalgam, Analysis,
Appointment,
Assist,
Assista
Baby
teeth,
Bacteria, Bands,
Bib, Bite,Anesthesia,
Bone, Braces,
Bridge, Bristle,
Brush

Q)

Quality, Quantity, Query, Questions, Quiz

R)
S)

Recline, Regularity, Remedy, Remove, Replacement, Rinse, Root-canal

Scaling, Schooling, Screening, Second opinion, Services, Silver, Skill, Smile, Specialty, Speed

T)

Teaching, Technician, Teeth, Tissue, Tooth, Toothpaste, Total, Treatment

U)

Unique, University, Unusual, Usual

V)
W)

Wax, Wear, Wearer, Whitening, Wisdom teeth, Worry

X)
Y)
Z)

DENTAL VOCABULARY
One of the fun parts of learning dental/medical terminology is making difficult, long, impressivelooking words understandable. By learning what the word parts mean, it is much easier to
understand what a brand new word is, even if you have never seen or heard it before. Most
medical terms originated in either Greek or Latin, so when someone says, "It's Greek to me" . . .
it really is!
abrasion: loss of tooth structure caused by a hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique, or
Bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth).
abscess: an infection of a tooth, soft tissue or bone
abutment: tooth or teeth that support a fixed or removable bridge
adhesive dentistry: contemporary term for dental restorations that involve "bonding" of tooth
colored composite resin or porcelain fillings to natural teeth
air abrasion: removal of tooth decay by blasting a tooth with air and abrasive particles, a
relatively new technology that may avoid the need for anesthetic
allergy: unfavorable systemic response to a foreign substance or drug
alveolar bone: the jaw bone that anchors the roots of teeth
amalgam: a most common filling material, also known as "silver fillings", containing mercury
(app 50%), silver, tin, copper and zinc commonly used for fillings in past years (white
"composite" fillings are preferred by most patients.
analgesia: a state of pain relief; an agent lessening pain

anesthesia: partial or complete elimination of pain sensation; numbing a tooth is an example of


local anesthesia; general anesthesia produces partial or complete unconsciousness
anterior teeth: the six upper or six lower front teeth (canines, laterals & central incisors)
antibiotic: a drug that stops or slows the growth of bacteria
ANUG: an acronym for Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, commonly known as trench
mouth or Vincent's disease, aggravated by stress and/or smoking
apex: the tip of the root of a tooth
apicoectomy: surgical removal of an infected root tip to treat a dead tooth
arch : describes the alignment of the upper or lower teeth
attrition: loss of structure due to natural wear
base: cement placed under a dental restoration to insulate the pulp (nerve chamber)
bicuspid or pre-molar: transitional teeth behind the cuspids (canines)
bifurcation (trifurcation): exposure of the juncture of two (three) roots in posterior teeth
biopsy: removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic examination
bite wings: caries (decay) detection x-rays
bite: relationship of the upper and lower teeth on closure (occlusion)
black hairy tongue: elongated papillae on the tongue, promoting the growth of more
microorganisms
bleaching: chemical or laser treatment of natural teeth for whitening effect
block injection: anesthesia of a nerve trunk that covers a large area of the jaw; a mandibular
block injection produce numbness of the lower jaw, teeth, half the tongue
bonding: adhesive dental restoration technique; a tooth-colored composite resin to repair and/or
change the color or shape of a tooth
bone resorption: decrease in bone supporting the roots of teeth; a common result of periodontal
(gum disease), can result in tooth loss if left untreated.
braces: devices used by orthodontists to gradually reposition teeth to a more favorable
alignment
bridge: stationary dental prosthesis (appliance) fixed to teeth adjacent to a space; replaces one
or more missing teeth, cemented or bonded to supporting teeth or implants adjacent to the
space
bruxism: grinding or gnashing of the teeth, most commonly while the patient is asleep
bruxomania: persistent "nervous" grinding of the teeth while the patient is awake
calcium: chemical element needed for healthy teeth, bones and nerves
calculus: hard residue that forms on the teeth composed of old plaque and food particles
commonly known as "tarter"
calculus: hard residue, commonly known as "tarter," that forms on teeth due to inadequate
plaque control, often stained yellow or brown
canker sore: mouth sore appearing whitish, often with a red halo, of ten to fourteen day duration
canker sore: mouth sore appearing whitish, often with a red halo, of ten to fourteen day duration
cantilever bridge: fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth only on one end

cap: common term for dental crown


caries: tooth decay or "cavities"
cast or model: reproduction of oral structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold
Cavitron: dental tool that uses high frequency ultrasonic waves to gently clean teeth
cellulitis: soft tissue infection causing extensive, hard swelling, a potentially dangerous condition
requiring immediate attention
cementum: hard tissue that covers the roots of teeth
chart: log of dental or medical records
clasp: device that retains a removable partial denture to stationary teeth; can be metal or acrylic
(matches teeth and gums)
cleaning: removal of plaque and calculus (tarter) from teeth, generally above the gum line;
preventive procedure that is usually done every 6 months (may need to be done more
frequently for some individuals)
composite resin: material composed of plastic with small glass or ceramic particles; usually
cured with filtered light or chemical catalyst
cosmetic (aesthetic) dentistry: treatments performed to enhance appearance; not a recognized
specialty
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation): Artificial procedures employed by a rescuer after
cessation of breathing or heart stoppage
Cross bite: reverse biting relationship of upper and lower teeth; aka "under bite," as in Class III
malocclusuion (prognathic jaw)
crown: (1) the portion of a tooth above the gum line; (2) dental restoration covering all or most of
the natural tooth
curettage: removal of diseased tissue from the lining of a periodontal pocket
cusp: mound on posterior teeth that aids in chewing
cuspid or canine: the four "eye teeth"
cyst: a soft or hard tissue sac, hard or filled with fluid
DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery - equivalent to DMD
decay: destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria
deciduous teeth: commonly called "baby teeth," the first set of (usually) twenty teeth
dental implant: a (usually) titanium cylinder surgically placed in the bone of the upper or lower
jaw to provide support for a dental restoration or appliance
dentin: inner layer of tooth structure, immediately under the surface enamel
dentition: the arrangement of natural or artificial teeth in the mouth
denture: removable (partial or complete) set of artificial teeth
denturism: the production of dentures dispensed directly by laboratory technicians
diastema: open space between teeth
DMD: Doctor of Medical Dentistry - equivalent to DDS
enamel: hard tissue covering the portion of tooth above the gum line

endodontist: specialist who treats injuries, diseases and infections of the tooth pulp (nerve
chamber)
epidemiology: study of the incidence of disease in a population
eruption: process of teeth protruding through the gums
exfoliate: process of shedding deciduous (baby) teeth
exodontia: practice of dental extractions
explorer: sharp instrument used to detect decay on the surface of teeth
extraction: removal of a tooth
eyeteeth: the four upper and lower canine (cuspid) teeth
facing: tooth colored overlay on the visible portion of a crown; may be acrylic, composite or
porcelain
FAGD: Fellowship Academy of General Dentistry
filling: restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain or resin materials
fistula: channel emanating pus from an infection site; a gum boil
flap surgery: lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures
forceps: instrument used for removal of teeth
forensic dentistry: practice of gathering legal evidence for body identification or judicial issues
fossa: valley found on the surface of posterior teeth
freeway space: distance between the upper and lower teeth with the lower jaw in rest position
frenectomy: removal or reshaping of thin muscle tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to
the gum, or the tongue to the floor of the mouth
full denture: removable dental prosthesis (appliance) replacing all upper or lower teeth
full mouth reconstruction: extensive restorations of natural teeth with crowns and or fixed
bridges to manage restorative and bite problems.
general anesthesia: controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by a partial or complete
loss of pain sensation, protective reflexes, and the ability to respond purposefully to physical
stimulation or verbal command
geographic tongue: benign changes in the usual color and texture of tongue; does not require
treatment
gingiva: gum tissue
gingivectomy: surgical removal of gum tissue
gingivitis: inflammation of gum tissue
GTR: (guided tissue regeneration) a new technique for replacing bone tissue
gum boil: See fistula.
gum recession: exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums as a result of abrasion,
bone loss from periodontal disease or surgery
halitosis: bad breath of oral or gastrointestinal origin
Heimlich Maneuver: techinque employed by rescuer for obstruction of victim's airway
hematoma: swelling of effused blood beneath tissue surface

HMO or DMO: health (dental) maintenance organization which specifies a health care (dental)
provider a patient may see. Profitability depends on minimization of treatment.
hydrogen peroxide: disinfecting solution used in dental irrigation procedures or as mouth rinse
hygienist: dental auxiliary who cleans teeth and provides patient education; administers local
anesthetic, nitrous oxide and performs periodontal scaling
hyperemia: increased blood flow; may cause dental sensitivity to temperature and sweets; may
precede an abscess
impaction: partial or completely unexposed tooth that is wedged against another tooth, bone, or
soft tissue, precluding the eruption process
implant: artificial device replacing tooth root; may anchor an artificial tooth, bridge, or denture
impression: mold made of the teeth and soft tissues
incision and drainage: surgical incision of an abscess to drain suppuration (pus)
incisors: four upper and four lower front teeth, excluding the cuspids (canine teeth)
infiltration: local anesthetic procedure effective for upper teeth and soft tissue; placement of
anesthetic under the gum, allowing it to seep into bone
inlay: indirect - filling made by a dental laboratory that is cemented or bonded into place, direct placement of dental composite resin, or porcelaion restoration at chairside
interocclusal: space between upper and lower teeth
interproximal: surfaces of adjoining teeth
intraoral camera: a small video camera used to view and magnify oral conditions; images may
be printed
jacket: crown for a front tooth, usually made of porcelain
laminate: thin plastic or porcelain veneer produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to a
tooth
laughing gas: nitrous oxide; odorless inhalation agent that produces relative analgesic
(sedation); reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation
lesion: injury of bodily tissue due to infection, trauma or neoplasm
local anesthesia: partial or complete elimination of pain sensation, in the immediate vicinity of its
application or injection
MAGD: Masters Academy of General Dentistry
malocclusion: "bad bite" or misalignment of the upper and lower teeth
managed care: program whereby patient-dentist assignment and dentist reimbursement is
administered by a separate, external organization
mandible: the lower jaw
margin: interface between a restoration and tooth structure
Maryland bridge: a bridge that is bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth; requires minimum
tooth reduction
mastication: process of chewing food
maxilla: the upper jaw
meniscus: capsular cushion between temporomandibluar joint and glenoid fossa

milk teeth: deciduous (baby) teeth


molars: three back teeth in each dental quadrant used for grinding food.
moniliasis (thrush): opportunistic fungal infection after administration of antibiotic; not
uncommon in the mouth
mucogingival junction (MGJ): meeting of thick, protective gingival tissue around the teeth and
the friable mucous lining of the cheeks and lips
nerve (root) canal: dental pulp; the internal chamber of a tooth
nerve: tissue that conveys sensation, temperature, position information to the brain
night guard: acrylic appliance used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by
grinding or gnashing of the teeth during sleep
nitrous oxide: a gas used to reduce patient anxiety
Novocain: older brand name for a local anesthetic, currently replaced by safer, more effective
agents
NSAID: non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, often used as a dental analgesic
occlusion: closure; relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure
onlay: laboratory produced restoration covering one or more cusps of a tooth
oral and maxillofacial surgeon: a dental specialist who manages the diagnosis & surgical
treatment of diseases, injuries, and deformities of the mouth and supporting structures;
Requires four additional years of training after dental school
oral and maxillofacial surgery: surgical procedures on the mouth including extractions, removal
of cysts or tumors, and repair of fractured jaws
oral cavity: the mouth
oral hygiene: process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures
oral pathologist: dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases
orthodontics: dental specialty that treats misalignment of teeth
osseous: boney
overbite: vertical overlap of the front teeth; deep bite
overdenture: denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants
overjet: horizontal overlap of the front teeth; protruding front teeth
palate: hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth
palliative treatment: non invasive relief of irritating conditions
parasthesia: a partial loss of sensation; may be temporary or permanent
partial denture: removable dental prosthesis (appliance) replacing one or more natural teeth
pathology: study of disease
pedodontics or pediatric dentistry: dental specialty focusing on treatment of children
periapical (PA): region at the end of the roots of teeth
periodontal chart: record measuring the depth of gum pockets around the teeth along with
documenting sites of associated infection

periodontal surgery: recontouring or esthetic management of diseased gum and supporting


tissue
periodontist: dental specialist treating the gums and supporting soft and hard tissues retaining
natural teeth and the surgical placement of dental implants
permanent teeth: (usually) thirty-two adult teeth in a complete dentition
pit: a small defect in the tooth enamel; junction of four formative lobes of a developing tooth
placebo: inert medication or treatment that produces psychological benefit
plaque: soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth; composed of bacteria and food debris
due to inadequate dental hygiene
pontic: replacement tooth mounted on a fixed or removal appliance
porcelain crown: all porcelain restoration covering the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum
line)
porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crown: restoration with metal coping (for strength) covered by
porcelain (for appearance)
porcelain inlay or onlay: tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain, cemented or bonded in
place
porcelain veneers: a thin layer of porcelain, fabricated by a laboratory) bonded to a natural tooth
to replace lost tooth structure, close spaces, straighten teeth or change color and/or shape
post: thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy; provides retention
for a "coping" that replaces lost tooth structure and retains crown
post-core: post and buildup to replace lost tooth structure and retain crown
post-crown: single structure that combines post-core and crown
PPO or PDO: preferred provider (dental) organization which a health care (dental) provider may
join, offering fee for service treatment at reduced fees
prognosis: the anticipated outcome of treatment
prophylaxis: cleaning of the teeth for the prevention of periodontal disease and tooth decay
prosthesis: an artificial appliance for the replacement for a body part, tooth or teeth
prosthodontist: dental specialist skilled in restoring or replacing teeth with fixed or removable
prosthesis (appliance), maintaining proper occlusion; treats facial deformities with artificial
prostheses such as eyes, ears, and noses
pulp cap: a medicated covering over a small area of exposed pulp tissue
pulp chamber: the center or innermost portion of the tooth containing the pulp
pulp: the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue inside a tooth
pulpectomy: complete removal of the pulp (commonly done in children's teeth)
pulpitis: inflammation of the pulp; common cause of toothache
pulpotomy: partial removal of the pulp tissue
pyorrhea: older term for periodontal (gum) disease
reimplantation: insertion and temporary fixation of partially or completely avulsed tooth or teeth,
resulting from traumatic injury

reline: acrylic restoration of denture base to compensate for bone loss; direct: done at chairside;
indirect: in conjunction with a dental laboratory
restoration: replacement of portion of a damaged tooth
retained root: partial root structure remaining in jaw after extraction or fracture of a natural tooth
root canal therapy: process of removing pulp of a tooth and filling it with an inert material
root canal: common term for root canal therapy, also the interior space of the tooth root
root resection: removal of a portion of diseased root structure, retaining the remaining natural
tooth
root: tooth structure that connects the tooth to the jaw
rubber dam: soft latex sheet used to establish isolation of one or more teeth from contamination
by oral fluids and to keep materials from falling to the back of the throat
saliva ejector: suction tube placed in the mouth to remove saliva
saliva ejector: suction tube placed in the mouth to remove saliva
saliva: clear lubricating fluid in the mouth containing water, enzymes, bacteria, mucus, viruses,
blood cells and undigested food particles
salivary glands: located under tongue and in cheeks, produce saliva
scaling and root planing: meticulous removal of plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces
sealants: thin resin material bonded in the pits and fissures of back teeth for the prevention of
decay
secondary dentin: reparative tooth structure produced by the pulp in response to tooth irritation
sequstrum: loosened spicule of bone pushed to the surface
sinusitis: inflammation of the sinus that may mimic dental pain
sleep apnea: the periodic interruption or delay in breathing during sleep
space maintainer: dental device that holds the space lost through premature loss of baby teeth
splint: connection of two or more teeth so they function as a stronger single structure
supernumerary tooth: extra tooth
suppuration: bacterial contamination of tissue exudate; pus
tartar: common term for dental calculus, a hard deposit that adheres to teeth; produces rough
surface that attracts plaque
third-party provider: insurance company, union, government agency that pays all or a part of
cost of dental treatment
tmd (or tmj disorder): temperomandibular disorder; term given to condition characterized by
facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw
tmj: the temporomandibular joint, the point where the lower jaw attaches to the skull
tooth bud: early embryonic structure that becomes a tooth
tooth whitening: a chemical or laser process to lighten the color of teeth; can be done with a
professional take-home product or in office in about 1 hour.
topical anesthetic: ointment that produces mild anesthesia when applied to tissue surface
torus: common bony protuberance on the palate or lower jaw

transplant: placing a natural tooth in the empty socket of another tooth


trauma: injury caused by external force, chemical, temperature extremes, or poor tooth
alignment
trench mouth: gum disease characterized by severe mouth sores and loss of tissue. See ANUG.
UCR: usual, customary and reasonable fees
unerupted tooth: a tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct position
in the dental arch
veneer: plastic or porcelain facing bonded directly to a tooth to improve its appearance. See
laminate.
vertical dimension: arbitrary space between upper and lower jaws upon closure; may decrease
over time due to wear, shifting or damage to the teeth; may need to be re-established in order to
avoid problems with bite or tompromandibular joint (TMJ)
wisdom teeth: third (last) molars that usually erupt at age 18-25 (when "wisdom is attained")
xerostomia: dry mouth or decrease in the production of saliva; can be side effect of common
medications; patients with this situation may need fluoride supplementation and/or saliva
substitute to avoid high decay rate

Introduction to Dental Anatomy


Vickie P. Overman, RDH, MEd
Save your place in this course and return later. (Requires Log In)
Save

Previous

Basic Terminology

Next

Before beginning the study of the teeth themselves it is necessary to define some terms that are basic to
learning about dental anatomy.
Human Dentition The teeth that are located in the upper and lower jaws are collectively referred to as
the human dentition.
Maxillae The upper jaw is known as the maxillae.
Maxillary Teeth The teeth located in the maxillae form an arch and are referred to as maxillary teeth.
Mandible The lower jaw is called the mandible.
Mandibular Teeth The teeth located in the mandible are referred to as mandibular teeth.
As humans, we have two sets of teeth during our lifetime.
Primary Dentition The first set of teeth we get. These are often referred to as baby teeth. There are 20
teeth in the primary dentition.
Permanent Dentition The second set of teeth we get. These are often referred to as adult teeth. There
are 32 teeth in the permanent dentition.
There are several terms that help to define locations on and around the teeth. These terms are used often to
refer to specific areas of the mouth when describing conditions there.
Posterior Towards the back of the mouth.
Anterior Towards the front of the mouth
Mesial Towards the midline of the mouth.

Distal Away from the midline of the mouth


Buccal Any area on the cheek side of the teeth
Lingual Any area on the tongue side of the teeth
Facial Any area on the cheek or lip side of the teeth. Is often used interchangeably with buccal but mostly
in the anterior portion of the mouth.
Palatal Any area on the tongue side of the maxillary teeth
Occlusal Any area on the chewing surfaces of back teeth.
Incisal Any area on the biting surfaces of the front teeth.

Introduction to Dental Anatomy


Vickie P. Overman, RDH, MEd
Save your place in this course and return later. (Requires Log In)
Save

Previous

Basic Terminology

Next

Before beginning the study of the teeth themselves it is necessary to define some terms that are basic to
learning about dental anatomy.
Human Dentition The teeth that are located in the upper and lower jaws are collectively referred to as
the human dentition.
Maxillae The upper jaw is known as the maxillae.
Maxillary Teeth The teeth located in the maxillae form an arch and are referred to as maxillary teeth.
Mandible The lower jaw is called the mandible.
Mandibular Teeth The teeth located in the mandible are referred to as mandibular teeth.
As humans, we have two sets of teeth during our lifetime.
Primary Dentition The first set of teeth we get. These are often referred to as baby teeth. There are 20
teeth in the primary dentition.
Permanent Dentition The second set of teeth we get. These are often referred to as adult teeth. There
are 32 teeth in the permanent dentition.
There are several terms that help to define locations on and around the teeth. These terms are used often to
refer to specific areas of the mouth when describing conditions there.
Posterior Towards the back of the mouth.
Anterior Towards the front of the mouth
Mesial Towards the midline of the mouth.
Distal Away from the midline of the mouth
Buccal Any area on the cheek side of the teeth
Lingual Any area on the tongue side of the teeth
Facial Any area on the cheek or lip side of the teeth. Is often used interchangeably with buccal but mostly
in the anterior portion of the mouth.
Palatal Any area on the tongue side of the maxillary teeth
Occlusal Any area on the chewing surfaces of back teeth.
Incisal Any area on the biting surfaces of the front teeth.

Tooth Identification

Next

In both the maxillary and mandibular arch there are similar teeth. There are four types of teeth in both
arches. These include the incisors, the canines, the premolars and the molars. Each of these teeth are
located in a different area of the mouth and serve different functions (Figure 3).
Incisors The four front teeth in the mouth are known as incisors. They are located in both the maxillary
and mandibular arches. The two center teeth are known as central incisors and the teeth on either side of
them are known as lateral incisors. All of these teeth are responsible for cutting or biting food. They act
like scissors.
Canines The teeth located distal to the lateral incisors are known as canines. These teeth form the
corners of the mouth. There are 2 canines in the maxillary arch and 2 canines in the mandibular arch.
These teeth are responsible for tearing food particles when chewing.
Premolars The teeth located distal to the canines are known as premolars. There are 4 premolars in
each arch and two are located behind each canine in the arch. These teeth are smaller than the molars and
are responsible for crushing food in the chewing process. These teeth are also only present in the
permanent dentition. The primary dentition only consists of incisors, canines and molars.
Molars There are normally 6 molars in each arch; three on the left and three on the right side. They are
referred to as first, second and third molars. Some people never develop third molars and often these are
the molars that are so far back in the mouth that they have difficulty coming in and may have to be taken
out. The role of the molars in chewing is to grind the food.
Figure 3. Four Types of Teeth

Tooth Numbering Systems

Next

In order to effectively and efficiently refer to teeth we often use numbering or lettering systems. There are
several systems that are used throughout the world. These include the Universal Numbering System, the
Palmer Notation System and the International Numbering System. The most widely used system in U.S.
dental schools is the Universal Numbering System. This consists of assigning numbers to the teeth in the
permanent dentition from 1 to 32 starting with the upper right third molar and continuing over to the
upper left third molar and then down to the lower left third molar and onto to the lower right third molar. For
example: The mandibular right canine tooth would be tooth #27 (Figure 4).
Using the Universal Numbering System the primary dentition is identified using letters. Beginning at the
second molar on the upper right, the teeth in the maxillary arch are assigned letters A J. Then continuing
with the mandibular left second molar and around to the mandibular right second molar, the teeth are
assigned letters K T (Figure 5).

Figure 4. Universal Numbering


System
for Permanent Dentition Phase

Figure 5. Universal Numbering


System
for Primary Dentition Phase

Conclusion

Next

The teeth have two major parts, the crown and the root. When looking at a cross section of the tooth the
four main tissues that make up the tooth are the enamel, the dentin, the cementum and the pulp. All of
these parts play important roles in the proper functioning of the dentition.
The primary dentition is made up of 20 teeth, while the permanent or adult dentition contains 32 teeth.
Most dental professionals refer to a numbering or lettering system when identifying the teeth. There are
four main types of teeth, the incisors, the canines, the premolars and the molars. Each type of tooth serves
a different function in eating.
Understanding dental anatomy is essential in order to begin to develop an appreciation for the role of teeth
in digestion, appearance, speech and sensory input. Without the proper function of the teeth, usually due to
disease such as decay or cavities, a person's health, appearance and nutrition can be affected.

Dental Vocabulary

Dental vocabulary is very important for your health. The items in the picture help you keep good
dental hygiene -- that is, keeping your mouth and teeth clean.
It's important to get regular check-ups at the dentist's office where a dental hygienist will clean
your teeth and the dentist will check your teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy and
there are no cavities (holes) in your teeth.
Many people hate going to the dentist, especially if they had dental work done when they were
children. The sounds of the drills that fix and polish the teeth can be scary for children.

breath freshener: a spray used to cover-up


bad smells in the mouth.

dental floss: a thin piece of string for


cleaning that is often waxed so it can easily
move between the teeth and gums.

electric toothbrush: a toothbrush that is


powered by electricity to clean the teeth and
gum line.

mouth wash: a liquid used to clean bacteria


and germs in the mouth and freshen the
breath.

toothbrush: a brush with thin stiff bristles


for cleaning the teeth and gums.

toothpaste: a creamy paste used to clean the


teeth.

Some other important dental vocabulary:


dental check-up: a routine examination at the dentist's office where your teeth are cleaned and
examined.
cavity: a hole in the tooth that forms because of tooth decay.
teeth cleaning: a routine cleaning of the teeth by a dental hygienist or dentist.
dental exam: an examination by the dentist to control for tooth and gum disease and other
problems.
flossing: a method of cleaning between the teeth and gums using dental floss.
dentist: a medically-trained professional who examines and treats patients for mouth, gum and
teeth issues.
dental hygienist: a professionally-trained individual who cleans the teeth and checks for basic
gum disease.
braces: metal or plastic devices that are attached to the teeth to make them straight.
tooth decay: the process of the tooth losing it's health.
gums: the pink/red flesh that surrounds the teeth.
tongue: the soft moveable part inside the mouth that is used when tasting and eating food and
when speaking.
Your turn to use this dental vocabulary
This is not a long list of words but they are important. It's easy to learn this vocabulary. Simply
practice each morning as you brush and floss your teeth.... you do floss your teeth, right?

Do you go to the dentist's regulary to have your teeth cleaned and checked? Have you had any
major dental work done? I had braces when I was a child and I've also had a root canal (ouch!)
and several cavities. Please leave a comment below to practice your English.
go to main vocabulary list from dental vocabulary page.