Of General Dental Terms
Names Of Individual teeth
Palmer's notation is a widely used method to designate individual teeth.
In Palmer's notation, your mouth is divided into four parts called
quadrants, that is the upper left quadrant, the upper right quadrant,
the lower left quadrant, and the lower right quadrant as illustrated in
the figure on the right. Then each individual tooth in the quadrant is
given a name. For example the two upper and two lower teeth at the
center of your mouth are called central's. One then combines the names
of the quadrant and the tooth to come up with a Palmer's notation. For
example, the central on the upper right side of your mouth is called an
upper right central.
The remaining teeth are designated as follows:
The two upper and two lower teeth in the very center of your mouth.
The teeth just adjacent to the centrals.
The pointy teeth just behind the laterals. These teeth have one cuspal (or
point). Cuspids are also called canines.
The teeth just behind the cuspids. These teeth have two cuspals (or
The teeth just behind the first bicuspids. These teeth also have two
cuspals (or points)
The teeth just behind the second bicuspids. These teeth have a level
surface with four cuspals.
The teeth just behind the first. These teeth also have a level surface
with four cuspals.
The teeth just behind the second molars. These teeth also have a level
surface with four cuspals.
Other names for teeth:
Another name for the centrals and laterals
Another name for the cuspids
6 year molar
Another name for your first molar
12 year molar
Another name for your second molar
Another name for the third molar
Your centrals, laterals, and cuspids. These are the teeth in the front
of your mouth
Your bicuspids and molars. These are the teeth in the back of your
Your primary, or "baby teeth"
The first set of teeth which come in. Primary teeth are also called
"baby teeth" or deciduous teeth.
Your permenant teeth, i.e. the second group of teeth to come in.
The four parts of your mouth, that is the upper left, the upper right,
the lower left, and the lower right.
Numerical notation for teeth
The numerical notation for teeth is an alternate to Palmer's notation.
In this notation, the centrals are designated as 1's, the laterals as
2's, the cuspids as 3's, the first bicuspids as 4's, the seond
bicuspid's as 5's, etc.
Universal numerical notation for teeth
The universal numerical notation is an alternative numerical notation
for teeth. In this notation, your upper right third molar is designated
as tooth#1, and then you number each tooth sequentially moving right to
left and down across your mouth.
Parts Of A Tooth And Your Mouth
A opening in your jaw-bone in which a tooth is attached.
The very bottom of the root of your tooth
The tooth surface which is next to your cheeks. Usually only posterior
teeth touch your cheeks, so people usually use the term "buccal" only
when talking about your back teeth.
A bony substance covering the root of a tooth.
The part of your tooth above your gum.
The chewing or tearing points of the cuspids, bicuspids, and molars.
The calcium part of a tooth below the enamel containing the pulp chamber
and root canals.
A hard ceramic which covers the exposed part of your teeth.
Small pieces of pink colored skin that attach your lips, cheeks and
tongue to your mouth. Examples include the piece of skin under your
tounge which sticks out when you pick up your tongue, and the piece of
skin which sticks out when you pull out your lips.
Another name for your gums
The pink areas around your teeth
The soft inner structure of a tooth, consisting of nerve and blood
The very inner part of your tooth containing nerve cells and blood
Another name for the pulp chamber
The part of your tooth in your gums
Other dental terms
The teeth on either side of a missing tooth.
A silver/mercury mixture which is used for fillings.
1)The arangement of the bones in your skeleton 2) The study of the
arrangement of the bones in your skeleton.
A chemical agent which can be applied to living tissues to destroy
A drug which a doctor or dentist uses to put you, your mouth, or some
other part of your body asleep so you do not feel any pain during dental
or medical procedures.
An adjective used to describe things pertaining to your your Centrals,
laterals and cuspids (your front teeth).
Collectively, either the teeth or the basal bone of either jaw.
A special holder for models of your teeth. The articulator holds the
models in the same alignment as your jaw so the orthodontist can look
carefully at your bite.
The avoidance of potentially pathogenic microorganism. In practice,it
refers to those techniques which aims to exclude all microorganisms.
A tube like a straw which the dentist puts in your mouth to suck up all
Removal of fluids from your mouth with an aspirator.
Clenching or grinding of your teeth especially at night.
A hard deposit that forms when you do not brush your teeth so the plaque
hardens. Calculus is also known as tartar.
Another name for a cavities (tooth decay)
A small hole in one of your teeth caused by tooth decay.
Passing bacteria, viruses or AIDS indirectly from one patient to another
through the use of improper sterilization procedures, unclean
instruments, or "recycling" of orthodontic products.
1) An artifacial tooth, 2) an artificial replacement for the covering on
A periodontal procedure where your gums are scraped to remove bacteria.
The loss of calcium from your teeth. This weakens your teeth and makes
them more succeptable to decay
A synthetic replacment for all of your teeth in either your upper or
your lower jaw.
the process of identifying the nature of a disorder.
Direct contact with impurities or germs. (for example by a Patient
sneezing on the assistant.)
A cleaning process which destroys of most microorganism, but not highly
resistant forms such as bacterial and mycotic spores or the AIDS virus.
A chemical agent which is applied onto inanimate surfaces, for example
chairs, to destroy germs.
materials intended for one use and discarded. (e.g.: Gloves, paper
gowns, cotton rolls, sponges, etc.)
Behind towards the back of the mouth. For example you might say that the
first bicuspid is distal to the cuspid.
Someone is said to be edentulous whene all of their teeth are missing
from either their upper or lower jaw.
A dentist who specializes in root canals and the treatment of diseases
or injuries that affect the root tips or nerves in your teeth.
When a new tooth comes in, the tooth is said to erupt when the tooth
breaks through the surface of your gums, so you can see the tooth in
to fall out. (Your Deciduous teeth exfoliate and permanent teeth erupt
into the space.)
Outside of your mouth. For example, neck pads are sait to be extra oral
products since they go outside of your mouth.
the dimple or indentation under the nose directly above the upper lip.
A chemical solution or gel which you put on your teeth. The flouride
hardens your teeth and prevents tooth decay.
The abnormal enlargement of the gingiva surrounding the teeth caused by
poor oral hygiene.
The inflammation of your gums caused by improper brushing. The first
sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
An unerupted tooth that somehow has gotten stuck and cannot come in.
A replacement for one of your missing teeth. The implant is different
than a bridge in that the implant is permenantly attached into your jaw.
The biting edge of your centrals and laterals.
the space between adjacent teeth
Inside your mouth. For example, orthodontic rubber bands are called
intraoral products since the rubber bands are designed to go in your
the technique of using a solution to wash out your mouth and to flush
The tooth surface next to your lips or things mounted on the tooth
surfaces next to your lips.
The tooth surface next to your tongue or things mounted on the tooth
surfaces next to your tongue.
Your lower jaw
Pertaining to your lower jaw
To chew your food and mix the food with saliva
Your upper jaw
Pertaining to your upper jaw
Forward or front. For example your cuspid is mesial to you bicuspid. The
mesial surface of your bicuspid is the part of the bicuspid closest to
A plane through the very center of your mouth perpendicular to your
The situation when both deciduous and permanent teeth are present.
the chewing or grinding surface of the bicuspid and molar teeth.
the imaginary surface on which upper and lower teeth meet.
the only x-ray that is taken without a precision(tm) x-ray holder. The
x-ray film for this procedure is shaped like a large oatmeal cookie. You
are asked to bite on the x-ray film and the top of the x-ray machine is
positioned over your nose for a maxillary occlusal x-ray or under your
chin for a mandibular occlusal film. The x- ray shows the whole arch.
pertaining to the mouth.
Cells which aid the growth and development of teeth and bones.
Cells which help create the sockets in bones. For example osteoclasps
create the openings in your jaw bone to hold your teeth.
disease producing organisms that can exist in many different places.
(e.g.: Air, dust, counter top surfaces, the body, etc.)
the study of abnormal (diseased) tissue conditions.
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of children's teeth.
x-ray of individual teeth or groups of teeth.
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of diseases of your gums.
is a colorless, odorless, sticky substance containing acids and bacteria
that causes tooth decay.
Pertaining to your gums. For example periodontal desiese is gum disease.
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease.
An adjective used to describe things pertaining to the back of your
mouth or your back teeth.
Cleaning your teeth
A dentist who specializes in the replacement of missing teeth.
Refers to the surfaces of teeth that touch the next tooth; the space
between adjacent teeth is the interproximal space.
Another name for an x-ray
A procedure where the nerve of a heavily decayed tooth is removed from
the tooth replaced with a filling material
The longitudinal vertical plane that divides the mouth into two halves
(left and right.)
A cleaning process which reduces germs to a "safe" level.
A gadget used to maintain a space in your mouth. You would use a space
maintainer when you lose one of your baby teeth. The space maintainer
will keep a space in your mouth until a permenant tooth comes in to fill
A process where a medical material is treated to remove all possible
germs and other forms of life
Some people have extra teeth. These are called "supernumerary teeth".
Another name for calculus
An abreviation for the "temporomandibular joint" The "temporomandibular
joint" is the joint where your lower jaw connects to your skull.
a sheet of paper or special index card used to record your treatment
Definitions Of Orthodontic Term
Parts Of Your Braces
Anything the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move your teeth or
to change the shape of your jaw
A metal wire which is attached to your brackets to move your teeth.
a metal ring that is usually placed on you teeth to hold on parts of
A metal or ceramic part that is glued onto a tooth and serves as a means
of fastening the arch wire.
A breakaway is a small plastic piece with an internal spring which is
used to provide force on a facebow.
A small metal part that is welded on the ourside of a molar bank. The
buccal tube contains a slots to hold archwires, lip bumpers, facebows
and other things your orthodontist uses to move your teeth.
Chain, Orthodontic Chain
A stretchable plastic chain used to hold archwires into brackets and to
Facebows are wire apparatus used to move your upper molars back in your
mouth which creates room for crowded or protrusive anterior teeth.
Generally, the facebow consists of two metal parts which have been
attached together. The inner part is shaped like a horseshoe. This part
goes in your mouth and is connected to your buccal tubes. The outer part
has two curves. The curves go around your face, and connect to the
breakaways or high pull headgear. To properly use the product, the inner
bow needs to be inserted into your buccal tubes. An elastic neck band is
placed around the back of the neck while the triangular cast offs on
both sides of neck band are attached to the outer bow of the headgear.
Completing the apparatus is a plastic safety strap that is placed over
the neck band and onto the outer bow of the headgear.
A small plastic piece, shaped like a donut, which is used to hold the
arch wires in the brackets on your teeth.
A lip bumper is used to push the molars on your lower jaw back to create
more space for other teeth. The lip bumper conists of an arch wire which
is attached to a molded piece of plastic. You mount the arch wire in the
buccal tubes on your lower jaw, and plastic piece rests against your
lips. When you eat or talk, you push the plastic piece back which pushes
on your molars. That pushes your molars back.
A device that is used to protect your mouth from injury when you are
participating in sports. The use of a mouthguard is especially important
for orthodontic patients, to prevent injuries.
A neckpad is a cloth covered cushion which you wear around your neck
when you put on your facebow. Generally, the breakaways are attached to
the neckpad to provide force for the facebow.
A device used to make your jaw wider
A gadget that the orthodontist gives you to wear after the orthodntist
removes your braces. The retainer attaches to your upper teeth and holds
them in the correct position. You wear the retainer at night to make
sure that none of your teeth move while your jaw hardens and your teeth
get strongly attached to your jaw.
A plastic strap which prevents a facebow from coming loose and hurting
A plastic or metal part which the orthodontist uses to create space
between your teeth for bands.
A clear wax used to prevent your braces from irritating your lips when
your braces are first put on, or at other times.
The Orthodontist's Tools
A special plier which the orthodontist uses to remove bands from your
A device the orthodontist uses to help put on your bands. The
orthodontist puts the band in place, then asks you to bite down on the
bite stick to help push the band in place.
An x-ray viewer
Small plastic pieces used to draw back your lips and cheeks so the
orthodontist can more easily see you teeth and work in your mouth.
A special UV light used to help attach brackets to your teeth
Distal End Cutter
A special plier used to cut off the ends of your arch wires.
a hook-like fine pointed instrument used in examining the teeth.
A device used to remove some of the enamel from the spaces between your
teeth. The stripper is used to create extra space for crowded teeth.
A special plier which locks when it closes so it holds on to small
Pin and Ligature Cutter
A special plier use to cur off arch wires, ligatures etc.
A tool with a curved hook on one end. The orthodontist uses the scaler
to remove excess cement, and check for gaps.
A device used to help place ligating modules on brackets.
A procedure where a weak acid smeared on your teeth to ready your teeth
for brackets. The acid etch helps your brackets stay on better.
the process of cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth
the process of attaching brackets to your teeth using a special safe
An x-ray of the head that shows whether your teeth are aligned properly,
and whether they are growing properly.
A meeting with your orthodontist where he discusses your treatment plan
the removal of cemented orthodontic bands.
The removal of the brackets from your teeth
The first step in making a model of your teeth. You bite into a
container filled with algenate, and the algenate hardens to produce a
mold of your teeth.
Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontic treatment usually done when you are 6-8. The objective of
interceptive orthodontic treatment is to expand your palate and make
other corrections, so that your later orthodontic treatment goes quicker
and is less painful.
A process where an archwire is attached to the brackets on your teeth.
An adjective used to describe components used to attach archwires to
brackets. For example a ligating module is a small plastic piece that
goes over the brackets to hold in your archwires.
An x-ray taken by a machine that rotates around your head to give the
orthodontist a picture of your teeth, jaws and other important
The records appointment
One of the initial appointments with your orthodontist. The orthodontist
or his/her assistant takes pictures of you, x-rays, and impressions so
that they can figure out what treatment needs to be done.
Tightening your braces
A process which occurs every 3-6 weeks when you have braces. You go into
the orthodontist's office and the orthodontist's assistant either makes
adjustments to the wires in your braces, or changes the wires.
A procedure to measure how well your teeth come together. You bite a
sheet of wax and leave bitemark in the wax. The orthodontist looks at
the bitemarks to see how well your teeth are aligned.
Dental and orthodontic gadgets and materials not mentioned elsewhere
A plastic used to false teeth, retainers, and other dental products.
Dental acrylic has been tested and thought to be perfectly safe.
A plaster like compound used to take impressions. It tastes awful, but
A general term for the dental chairs, lights and equipment used by your
dentist or orthodontist.
the relationship between the force you apply to living tissue such as
teeth and gums and and how the tissue moves and changes
a removable appliance made of acrylic designed to open a deep bite.
Nickel Titanium or (NiTi)
An especially strong orthodontic wire which allows for rapid tooth
A disgusting procedure where an orthodontist takes bands, brackets,
wires, etc. out of one patient's mouth and "recycles" them to another
patient's mouth. This should not be confused with the kind of recycling
you do in your house; materials recycled in your home are used as a
source of raw materials and not simply reused.
Other Orthodontic Terms
the shape of the dental arch. For example the orthodontist could say
that you have a horseshoe archform or a "v"-shaped archform.
A malocclusion where your upper teeth cover your lower teeth when you
bite down. This is also called a "deep bite."
A malocclusion where some of your upper teeth are inside of your lower
teeth when you bite down.
An orthodontic problem caused by having too many teeth in two small of a
a tooth movement in which the root of the tooth is tipped forward or
backward to correct the angle of the crown.
a tooth movement in which the root of the tooth is tipped toward cheeks
(lips) or toward the lingual (palate) of the mouth.
excessive overbite; closed bite.
the arrangement of the teeth.
a space between two teeth.
Unwanted movement of teeth.
Tooth movement in the direction of eruption. Natural extrusion: teeth
grow until there is contact with another tooth. Mechanical extrusion: to
pull the teeth so that it extends farther out of your gums.
any orthodontic component that is cemented or bonded to the teeth.
A term used to indicate the position of the teeth. The upper teeth are
flared lingually (toward the lip).
Full orthodontic treatment
the angle of the long axis of a tooth from a particular line of
reference; the tilt or tip of a tooth.
a wax bite which is used to see how your teeth come together
reduction of the enamel of the teeth on both sides of the tooth. This
procedure is preformed to create space for crowded teeth.
movement of a tooth back into the bone.
orthodontic appliance fixed to the inside of your teeth. i.e. Lingual
appliances are attached to the part of your teeth next to your tongue.
An orthodontic wire attached from molar to molar in the inside of your
a variation of the lingual arch going from cuspids to cuspid.
Poor positioning of your teeth.
Class I Malocclusion
A Malocclusion where your bite is OK (your top teeth line up with your
bottom teeth) but your teeth are crooked, crowded or turned.
Class II Malocclusion
A Malocclusion where your upper teeth stick out past your lower teeth.
This is also called an "overbite" or "buck teeth"
Class III Malocclusion
A Malocclusion where your lower teeth stick out past your upper teeth.
This is also called an "underbite".
The alignment and spacing of your upper and lower teeth when you bite
A beautiful smile where all of your teeth are straight and your top
teeth line up with your bottom teeth
A malocclusion in which the teeth do not close or come together in the
front of your mouth
The treatment preformed to correct your bite and make your smile look
A dentist who has been specially trained to do orthodontics.
vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower.
horizontal projection of upper teeth beyond the lower.
a term used when your front teeth are slated lingually (i.e. toward the
back of your mouth).
a movement in which the tooth turned along the long axis of the tooth.
the curve of spee is the curvature of the occlusal plane of the teeth.
a bend or auxiliary attachment placed on a wire to limit the archwire
from sliding or moving in the bracket slot of the bracket.
a tooth movement in which the root of the tooth is tipped labially (lip)
or lingually (tongue) to correct the angle of the crown of the tooth.
the rotation of a tooth on the long axis moving the root of the tooth in
a buccal or labial direction.
an overlay drawing traced over a cephalometric x-ray that shows specific
structures and landmarks that provided a basis for orthodontic therapy.
the act of drawing or pulling the teeth.
a tooth movement in which the entire tooth moves forward or backward
without tipping or rotating.
A plastic model of a typical mouth, showing the alignment of teeth. A
typodont is used to teaching orthodontic procedures.