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A dental dictionary defines the words and terms for a dental condition or treatment. You can also feel confident in knowing more about the procedures and appliances Drs. Evans, Tran, Russell, Allen, and Hsu offer. To help you stay informed about dentistry and oral health, we are pleased to provide the following definitions. You are welcome to call Summit Dental of La Mesa if you have questions.

Abscess
An isolated buildup of pus, usually caused from infection

Abutment
A tooth or tooth structure, either natural or implanted, that supports a restoration such as a bridge, denture or dental implant.

Amalgam
A mixture of metals used as a filling material

Anesthetic
A sedative used to lessen the sensation or pain felt by an individual

Anterior
A position near the front

Apex
The bottom tip of a root

Asepsis
An absence or lack of bacteria

Attrition
Grinding down of teeth

Avulsed
The complete loss of a tooth due to an injury

Bitewing
A dental X-ray taken when the teeth are together

Bleaching
Tooth stain removal and whitening

Bridge
A replacement tooth supported by adjacent teeth or implants

Bruxism
Excessive grinding or clenching of teeth

Canine
The longest tooth in the mouth, sometimes pointed, found two teeth away from the front teeth

Canker sore
A sore on the inner surface of your mouth

Caries
Dental decay, or cavities

Cavity
Build of decay that has eroded a hole in the tooth

Cast
A replica of a patient’s dentition, also known as an impression

Cementation
A type of dental bonding

Chlorhexidine
An anti-bacterial agent used in products such as such as gels and rinses. It also aids in controlling gum diseases.

Clasp
A piece of metal attached to a partial denture or appliance to keep it in place

Cold sore
A sore or blister on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the lip

Composite
Naturally colored filling material

Cross-bite
A misalignment of a person’s bite

Crown (porcelain/plastic/metal)
A cover or cap for a tooth used to restore shape, structure, and function

Decay
An infection of the tooth that causes deterioration of the enamel and tooth’s structure and health

Dentistry
The branch of healthcare dedicated to the study, diagnosis, and treatment of the oral cavity and any supporting structures

Dentition
The arrangement, position, or number of teeth

Denture (Immediate/complete/partial, overdenture, temporary)
A dental appliance used to replace any missing teeth

Denturist
An individual specializing in fabricating dentures

Desensitization
A treatment that can reduce tooth sensitivity

Diagnosis
The act of determining a patient’s oral health

Diastema
A space or gap between two neighboring teeth, often the front teeth

Distal
Adjacent to the cheek

Edentulous
Referring to an individual who is missing all their teeth

Endodontics
A field of dental healthcare that attends to the root of the tooth

Eruption
The growth of the tooth through the gum

Excision
When something is removed

Extruded
A tooth that is not completely knocked out but still intact

Filling
A material placed in a tooth to fill in any cavities

Flipper
An appliance that is often used as temporary replacement for missing teeth

Floss
A thin thread used to remove food or buildup in between teeth

Fluoride
A substance similar to fluorine that can strengthen teeth

Fluoride treatment
The application or coating of fluoride on a tooth surface

Fracture
A crack in the tooth

Framework
The metal form of a dental appliance

Gingivitis
The beginning phase of periodontal disease

Hemorrhage
When a person sustains a great deal of bleeding

Hemostasis
When a person has stopped bleeding

Impaction
When a tooth cannot erupt properly

Implant
An artificial tooth surgically piece placed in the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth

Impression
A replica or mold of a patient’s teeth

Incisal
The cutting edge of incisors

Incisor
A person’s upper and lower front teeth

Inlay
Restoration that completes the shape and structure of a tooth

Interproximal
The space between two adjacent teeth

Lingual
Side of the tooth adjacent to the tongue.

Mesial
The side of the tooth facing towards the jaw

Molar
The last three teeth in the back of the mouth

Mouthguard
An appliance often worn during sports

Nightguard
A mouth guard appliance worn nightly

Occlusal
A surface of the tooth that meets the tooth above or below it when biting down

Occlusion
The relationship of how upper and lower teeth bite together

Onlay
A restoration similar to a filling that covers a biting surface

Open bite
The condition in which there is a space between the top and bottom teeth when biting down

Orthodontics
The field of dental care dedicated to the alignment and the positioning of a person’s bite

Overbite
The misalignment in which the upper teeth extend over the lower teeth when biting down

Overhang
An excess of fillings material that extends past the cavity

Palate
The roof of the mouth

Panoramic radiograph
An X-ray image of an individual’s complete dental and oral structures

Perforation
Any opening found in a tooth or other structure

Periapical
Encompassing a tooth’s root

Periodontics
The dental specialty focusing on gum disease

Permanent teeth
An individual’s second and last set of natural teeth

Pin
A straight metal piece used to help in retaining a filling

Polish
Smoothing the surface of a tooth or registration

Pontic
A tooth used in dental restorations or appliances to replace a missing tooth

Post
A restoration that supports a tooth or other appliance

Posterior
Position near the back

Pre-authorization
A recognition or approval of the treatments needed by a health insurer or other authority

Pre-medication
A medication taken prior to a treatment

Premolar
The dentition found between the canine and molar teeth

Prescription
A written and verified form or document to provide an individual with medication, or preparation of an appliance

Primary teeth
A child’s first set of teeth

Prophylaxis/prophy
A procedure done to polish teeth and/or a procedure to prevent future problems

Prosthesis
A replacement for a missing tooth or dental structure

Prosthodontics
The specialty focused on dental appliances and prosthetics

Pulp
The internal substance in a tooth

Pulpectomy
Complete removal of a tooth’s pulp

Pulpotomy
Partial removal of a tooth’s pulp

Radiograph
An image provided by X-ray technology

Recall
Routine dental care

Recementation
When an appliance or prosthesis is re-bonded or glued to the tooth

Restoration
An appliance used to repair the function, look or structure of a tooth

Retainer
Preserves the new position of teeth after orthodontic care

Retreatment
A repeated root canal treatment

Root
The anchoring structure of a tooth

Root canal
The part of the tooth, known as a canal, that contains the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth

Root canal treatment
Treatment that cleans the canal of the root inside the tooth

Root planing
A procedure to clean the root of a tooth

Rubber dam
A material used to set apart an area of the mouth

Scaling
A deep clean that extends to below the gum line

Sealant
A coating used to prevent future decay and cavities

Sedation
A medication that calms anxiety or sensation

Space maintainer
Appliance used to preserve a space between teeth

Splint
A method of blocking movement that uses an appliance

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
The two connecting joints of the jaw

Torus
An emerging piece of bone inside the mouth

Veneer
A cover or shell placed over a tooth to improve its appearance

Wisdom tooth
Third molars, the last teeth in the back of the mouth

Xerostomia
When the mouth is dry and does not moisten itself

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619-460-0700

8530 La Mesa Blvd # 204
La Mesa, CA 91942

Hours:
Mon - Thur: 8am-5pm
Fri: 8am-1pm*