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Oral Health Care: A Whole New Language

Course Number: 21

Terms D-L


  • The removal of a foreign material, such as calculus or plaque, or removal of necrotic (dead) tissue from or adjacent to a lesion.

  • Very commonly this term is used for a goal in nonsurgical periodontal instrumentation.

Dental Caries

(Carious Lesion)

  • Tooth decay, which is actually an infection that causes continuing destruction of tooth structure.

  • A dental cavity.

  • Caries is both singular and plural; one caries or two caries.



  • Toothpaste


  • The teeth in the dental arches – top and bottom.


  • Open contact between teeth.

  • Typically occurs between the upper front teeth, the maxillary central incisors.



  • Away from the middle; often used to describe the side of a particular tooth that is closest to the posterior or back of the mouth.


Disto-occlusal (DO)

  • Usually refers to dental caries or a restoration located at the distal and extending onto the occlusal or chewing surface.


  • Swelling


  • Lacking teeth

  • Can be area specific or the whole mouth.


  • The hard, outer surface layer of teeth.

  • Protects against tooth decay.

  • Tooth enamel is considered the hardest mineral substance in your body, even stronger than bone.


  • A slender, flexible instrument with a sharp point used to examine teeth for abnormalities and pathology, and to locate calculus through the use of touch.

  • Excellent tactile sensitivity must be developed to use an explorer well.



  • The removal of a tooth or root fragment.


  • A fluid of epithelial cells, bacteria, serum, and other products of the inflammatory process.

  • A polite word for pus.


  • Of or toward the face, used to designate the side of the tooth that is facing away from the tongue side.

  • The buccal and labial are both facial surfaces.



  • A narrow fold of tissue connecting moveable tissue to a more fixed tissue to prevent undue movement.

  • Singular form is frenum or frenulum. Plural is frena.



  • The concave area between the roots of a multi-rooted tooth.

    • It is called “bifurcation” if a tooth has two roots.

    • It is called “trifurcation” if a tooth has three roots.



  • That part of the oral masticatory mucosa that surrounds the necks of the teeth and is attached to the teeth and the alveolar bone.

  • You probably know it better as the gum!

Halitosis/Oral Malodor

  • Bad breath


  • Adverse factors caused by a health care practitioner that result in a negative outcome for the patient.


  • Toward the cutting edge of anterior teeth.


  • Anterior teeth

  • The 2 large front teeth (central incisors) and the tooth on either side (lateral incisors).

  • There are 8 incisors, 4 maxillary and 4 mandibular.


  • Below or lower than a specified point of reference.

Interdental Papilla

  • Gingiva (gum tissue) that fills the space between two adjacent teeth (the space is called interproximal).

  • Papilla is usually pointed or pyramidal in anterior teeth and somewhat flatter between posterior teeth. If teeth overlap papilla, it may be tapered and narrow; if teeth do not touch, the papilla may be flat or saddle-shaped.

  • There are actually 2 papillae in teeth that contact, one facial and one lingual, which are connected by the col.


Junctional Epithelium (JE)

  • Attachment epithelium, where the tooth and gingiva actually first begin to be attached.

  • Found at the very bottom of the gingival sulcus or periodontal pocket.

  • Think of it like the place in the bottom of your pants pocket where you’d find loose change …or lint!


  • Of or toward the lips, used most often to designate the side of the tooth facing the lips4, so the term would refer to an anterior tooth.


  • Toward the side.


  • Of or toward the tongue, to identify the surface of a tooth that faces the tongue.