Glossary of Terms


Abscess - Acute or chronic localized inflammation, probably with a collection of pus, associated with tissue destruction and, frequently, swelling; usually secondary to infection.

Alveolar - Referring to the bone to which a tooth is attached.Apex - The tip or end of the root end of the tooth.

Bicuspid - A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.

Calculus - Hard deposit of mineralized substance adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices.

Canker Sore - Painful blisters that form on the inside of the mouth, cheeks, inner lips, and tongue.


Caries - Commonly used term for tooth decay beginning


Cavity - Missing tooth structure. A cavity may be due to decay, erosion or abrasion. If caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.

Cracked Tooth Syndrome - A collection of symptoms characterized by transient acute pain experienced when chewing.

Cuspid - Single cusped tooth located between the incisors and bicuspids.

Decay - The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.

Dry Socket - Localized inflammation of the tooth socket following extraction due to infection or loss of blood clot.

Enamel - Hard calcified

Impacted Tooth - An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.

Incisor - A tooth for cutting or gnawing; located in the front of the mouth in both jaws.

Malocclusion - Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.

Molar - Teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.

Plaque Build-up - Plaque is a sticky, colourless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly forms on our teeth. It is the main cause of cavities and gum disease, and can harden into tartar if not removed daily.

Prophylaxis - Removal of plaque, calculus and stains from the tooth structures. It is intended to control local irritational factors.

Retainer - Appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment.

Root Canal - Space inside the root portion of a tooth containing pulp tissue.

Scaling - Removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from teeth.

Tartar - Plaque that has hardened on your teeth. Tartar gives plaque more surface area to grow on. Also, it's more porous and therefore absorbs more stains. To avoid build-up, brush and floss daily.

Xerostomia - Dry mouth, a condition that can be caused by many factors such as medications, health conditions, and lifestyle factors.