Dental Terms Glossary
Common Dental Terms
We’ve put together this handy reference guide of terms you might hear when speaking with your dentist or support staff.
Please don’t hesitate to ask your dental care provider for clarification of any terms. We’re here to help make your experience as pleasant as possible!
Calcium: Chemical element needed for healthy teeth, bones and nerves.
Calculus: Hard residue, commonly known as tartar, that forms on teeth due to inadequate plaque control. Calculus teeth often are stained yellow or brown.
Canine teeth: There are two upper and land two ower canine (cuspid) teeth.
Canker Sore: Mouth sore that appears whitish and often has a red halo. A canker sore usually has a 10-14 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 structures made by pouring plaster or stone into a mold.
Cavitron: Dental tool that uses high frequency ultrasonic waves to 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.
Cleaning is a word that has been misused to identify a procedure that is routinely completed on a patient that is free of disease or has a healthy mouth. The appropriate word for this type of “cleaning” is prophylaxis, which is the specific type of cleaning that most insurance companies cover two times per year. There are several different types of “cleanings” that are recommended by the dentist and hygienist depending on the patient's oral health. To determine which type of “cleaning” is prescribed for you, please ask your dental professional.
Composite Resin: Material composed of plastic with small glass or ceramic particles that is usually cured with filtered light or chemical catalyst.
Cosmetic Dentistry: If you’re interested in correcting minor flaws in your smile we can help. Your teeth may be stained from years of coffee or wine drinking that has dulled your smile. We can help with an in-office or at-home plan to whiten them. Veneers and bonding can help correct minor flaws and gaps and will improve your smile.
CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation): Artificial procedures employed by a rescuer after cessation of breathing or heart stoppage.
Crossbite: Reverse biting relationship of upper and lower teeth also known as underbite, as in Class III malocclusuion (prognathic jaw).
Dental crowns and bridges are very popular among people of all ages, of either sex, and regardless of ethnic diversity. These are mostly cosmetic forms of treatment, covering unsightly teeth or replacing missing teeth for most. Because they look (and feel) more like real teeth, they are most commonly sought for those who have crooked, broken, cracked, or chipped teeth as a way of improving overall mouth health and achieving a beautiful smile. Tooth crowns are placed over existing teeth, and are typically a way to cover teeth that have metal fillings or misshapen teeth. Because they go on over what is already there, there is no need for the tooth to be pulled. Teeth crowns are an excellent way to improve a smile quickly and efficiently, and more permanent crowns normally replace temporary ones in less than a week.
If you need a crown or bridge you’ll be expertly fitted by one of our specialists. No more worrying that the crown or bridge is going to be ill fitting or look unnatural. Let us help keep your smile flawless.
Curettage: Removal of diseased tissue from a periodontal pocket.
Cusp: Mound on posterior teeth.
Cuspid or Canine: The four "eye teeth."
Cyst: A soft or hard tissue sac filled with fluid.