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!
Occlusion: The relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure.
Onlay: A laboratory-produced restoration covering one or more cusps of a tooth.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: A dental specialist who manages the diagnosis and 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. Unfortunately, not all teeth can be saved. If you are in need of an extraction, we will explain the full procedure and make sure it is as comfortable as possible. We can help with all your oral surgery needs.
Oral Cavity: The mouth.
Oral Hygiene: The process of maintaining cleanliness of the teeth and related structures.
Oral Pathologist: A dentist specializing in the study of oral diseases.
Orthodontics is somewhat similar to prosthodontics, since both use artificial means of replacing, repairing, or correcting the smile and jaw. However, where prosthodontics focus on bridges, dentures, and implants, orthodontics normally involves dental braces and similar features in order to do the job. Whether traditional metal braces or innovative invisible braces are used, the effect is normally a straight smile in a relatively short time.
Dental braces are normally metal or metallic braces made from an alloy that hold teeth in a certain position and then are gradually adjusted to straighten crooked teeth, close gaps between teeth, or push teeth apart in some cases. Invisible braces are tools used to straighten teeth (normally minor repairs), but are nearly invisible to other people. Tools such as plates, retainers, and similar dental appliances aid in these efforts, and some are worn long after the braces are removed permanently. Orthodontists make their living in diagnosing, applying, and caring for braces in most cases.
Most orthodontists must attend the normal four-eight year course required for a dentist, with the addition of a two-four year program for the specialty of orthodontics. This procedure is commonly covered by dental health insurance plans, although most times a yearly deductible must be met first. Without insurance, the treatment can cost thousands. Talk to the dental carrier to find out how much a treatment would cost for sure.
Medical and healthcare professionals sometimes call this area of study dentofacial orthopedics. Those who have had procedures done in this field have improved self-esteem, along with an obviously straighter smile. However, what most do not realize is that orthodontic procedures normally decrease the instance of migraines, relieve tooth or gum pain, and can fix the cracking or popping in the opening/closing of the jaw common to many teens and adults.Not every person’s teeth grow in perfectly spaced and straight. Whether you are considering braces for a child or an adult, we can help determine the best orthodontics to meet every need.
Overbite: A vertical overlap of the front teeth.
Overdenture: A denture that fits over residual roots or dental implants.
Overjet: A horizontal overlap of the front teeth.