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Amalgam - Material made from mercury and other alloy mixtures used to restore a drilled portion of a tooth.


Anesthesia - Medications used to relieve pain.


Anterior teeth - Front teeth. Also called incisors and cuspids.


Arch - The upper or lower jaw.

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Baby bottle tooth decay - Caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth.


Bicuspids - Back teeth used for chewing.


Bitewings - X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities.


Bonding - Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth.


Bridge - A fixed or removable appliance that replaces lost teeth.


Bruxism - Teeth grinding.

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Calculus - A sticky substance (also called tartar) that has hardened.


Canal - The narrow chamber inside the tooth's root.


Canines - Also called cuspids.


Canker sore - One that occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. A canker sore is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border.


Caries - Another term for decay, which causes cavities.


Cold sore - Usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by the herpes simplex virus, and it is usually painful and filled with fluid.


Composite filling - Tooth colored restorations, also known as resin fillings.


Composite resin - A tooth-colored resin combined with silica or porcelain and used as a restoration material.


Contouring - The process of reshaping teeth.


Crown - An artificial cover that is placed on the top of a tooth following restoration.


Cusps - The pointed parts on top of the back teeth's chewing surface.


Cuspids - Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge.

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Dentin - The tooth layer underneath the enamel.


Denture - A removable set of teeth.

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Endodontics - A form of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth's root or nerve.

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Fluoride - A naturally occurring substance added to water, toothpastes and some rinses and used for strengthening the tooth's enamel.


Fluorosis - A harmless over-exposure to fluoride and resulting sometimes in tooth discoloration.

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Gingiva - Another word for gum tissue.


Gingivitis - A minor disease of the gums caused by plaque.


Gum disease - An infection of the gum tissues. Also called periodontal disease.

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Impacted teeth - A condition in which a tooth fails to erupt or only partially erupts.


Implant - A permanent appliance used to replace a missing tooth.


Incisor - Front teeth with cutting edges; located in the center or on the sides near the front.


Inlay - An artificial filling made of various materials, including porcelain, resin, or gold.

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Laminate veneer - A shell that is bonded to the enamel of a front tooth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin.


Laser - Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A single wavelength beam of highly concentrated energy.

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Malocclusion - Bad bite relationship.


Mandible - The lower jaw.


Maxilla - The upper jaw.


Molar - Usually the largest teeth, near the rear of the mouth. Molars have large chewing surfaces.

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Neuromuscular Dentistry - are more than the aches and pains felt in around the neck and head that are associated with your teeth and jaw.

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Onlay - A filling designed to protect the chewing surface of a tooth.


Orthodontics - A field of dentistry that deals with tooth and jaw alignment.


Overdenture - A non-fixed dental appliance applied to a small number of natural teeth or implants.

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Palate - Roof of the mouth.


Partial denture - A removable appliance that replaces teeth. Also called a bridge.


Pedodontics - A field of dentistry that deals with children's teeth.


Perio pocket - An opening formed by receding gums.


Periodontal disease - Infection of the gum tissues. Also called gum disease.


Periodontist - A dentist who treats diseases of the gums.

Permanent teeth - The teeth that erupt after primary teeth. Also called adult teeth.


Plaque - A sticky, colorless substance that covers the teeth after sleep or periods between brushing.


Posterior teeth - The bicuspids and molars. Also called the back teeth.


Primary teeth - A person's first set of teeth. Also called baby teeth or temporary teeth.


Prophylaxis - The act of cleaning the teeth.


Prosthodontics - The field of dentistry that deals with artificial dental appliances.


Pulp - The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood, nerves and connective tissue.

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Receding gum - A condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth's enamel and surrounding bone.


Resin filling - An artificial filling used to restore teeth. Also called a composite filling.


Root canal - A procedure in which a tooth's nerve is removed and an inner canal cleansed and later filled.


Root planing - Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line.

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Sealant - A synthetic material placed on the tooth's surface that protects the enamel and chewing surfaces.

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TMJ - Temporomandibular joint disorder. Health problems related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear.


Tarter - A hardened substance (also called calculus) that sticks to the tooth's surface.

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Veneer - A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.

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Whitening - A process that employs special bleaching agents for restoring the color of teeth.


Wisdom tooth - Third set of molars that erupt last in adolescence.

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