Glossary of Dental & Orthodontic Terms


  • Appliance
    Any removable dental restoration or orthodontic device.


  • Calculus
    Tartar; plaque which has become calcified or hardened.
  • Cavity
    The space inside a tooth that remains once decay is removed.
  • Cheek pouch
    The area of the mouth inside the cheek.
  • Crown
    Portion of tooth covered by enamel; also refers to a dental restoration shaped like the tooth it covers.


  • Deciduous teeth
    Baby teeth; the childhood set of 20 teeth.
  • Dental caries
    Decay of teeth; commonly known as 'cavities'.
  • Dentine
    The core of the tooth, covered by enamel.
  • Dentine hypersensitivity
    The painful sensation resulting from exposed dentine in your mouth.
  • Dietary sugar
    Sugar occurring in your diet, including sugar found in sweets, fruits and processed foods.


  • Enamel
    Extremely hard, protective coating of tooth.
  • Eruption
    When teeth first peek through gums.
  • Explorer
    A probe used to detect cavity growth.


  • Fissures
    Cleft-like grooves in the chewing surfaces of back teeth.
  • Fissure sealing
    A procedure that protects fissures against decay, using a sealant.
  • Fluoride
    A chemical compound that helps strengthen teeth as well as reduce tooth decay and sensitivity.


  • Gingiva
    The gums; tissue that supports teeth and covers jawbone.
  • Gingival
    Of or pertaining to the gums.
  • Gingival pocket
    See gingival sulcus.
  • Gingival sulcus
    Gum pocket; space between tooth (including root) and gum tissue.
  • Gingivitis
    A reversible gum disease which causes gum tenderness, inflammation and pain.
  • Gum disease
    See periodontal disease and gingivitis.
  • Gum pocket
    See gingival sulcus.


  • Implant
    A fixture implanted within the jawbone to attach a permanent restoration such as a crown, bridge or denture.
  • Irrigator
    An appliance for cleaning above and/or below the gum line, and for distributing therapeutic solutions.
  • Interdental
    Between teeth.


  • Malocclusion
    Misalignment of upper and lower teeth.
  • Molars
    Large, broad multi-cusped teeth at the back of the mouth.
  • Mouthguard
    A soft fitted device that protects teeth against impact or injury.


  • Orthodontics
    An area of dentistry concerned with the correction of malocclusion and the restoration of teeth to proper functioning.
  • Orthodontist
    A dental professional who specialises in and corrects irregularities of the teeth.


  • Periodontal
    Of or pertaining to the tissue and bone that support teeth.
  • Periodontal disease
    See periodontitis.
  • Periodontal probe
    An instrument used to measure pocket depth.
  • Periodontist
    A dental professional who specialises in the treatment of disease of the supporting structures of the teeth.
  • Periodontitis
    A gum disease that causes inflammation of gums, ligaments and bone structure or bone loss that support teeth; can lead to tooth.
  • Plaque
    A sticky, bacteria-containing film which forms on tooth surfaces.
  • Premolars
    Two-cusped teeth immediately in front of molars.
  • Proximal surfaces
    Areas of tooth adjacent to other teeth.
  • Pulp
    Soft, sensitive tissue chamber below the crown, which contains nerves and blood vessels.


  • Restoration
    Any replacement for lost tooth structure or teeth; for example, bridges, fillings, crowns and implants.



  • Teething
    Baby teeth pushing through gums.
  • TMJ
    The 'temporomandibular joint' (TMJ) or commonly known as the ''jaw joint'', is where the lower jaw connects to the base of the skull.
  • TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder)
    A problem with the temporomandibular joint.
  • Topical gel
    Applied to teeth, gums or oral tissue.