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An Overview of Dental Anatomy

Course Number: 500


anterior – Forward, toward the front of the mouth and the midline.

apical – Toward the root of the tooth; apex of the tooth.

bifurcated – Single tooth with two roots.

buccal – The surface that is facing the cheeks in the back of the mouth.

cementum – The tissue covering the root of the tooth.

cementoenamel junction (CEJ) – The line where the enamel and the cementum of the tooth join.

cingulum – A small bump near the cervical third of an anterior tooth on the lingual side.

crown – The portion of the tooth above the gumline starting at the cementoenamel junction.

cusp – The top portion of the tooth; the tip or point.

deciduous teeth – The first set of teeth, also known as primary teeth.

dentin – The tissue of the tooth between the pulp and the enamel and cementum; the majority of the tooth.

dentition – A set of teeth.

dentoenamel junction (DEJ) – The junction where the enamel meets the dentin.

distal – Surface of the tooth away from the midline of the face.

dorsal – The top surface.

embrasure – The space between the teeth that begins at the contact area and widens down toward the gingiva. The interproximal gingival (interdental papillae) usually fills this space.4

enamel – The tissue covering the crown of the tooth; the hardest substance in the body.

epithelial attachment – At the base of the sulcus where the epithelial tissue is attached to the tooth.

facial – Toward the lips or cheeks. In the back of the mouth the term buccal may be utilized, and in the front of the mouth the term labial may be utilized.

fissure – A natural groove in the tooth.

fossa – A shallow depression in the tooth.

furcation – In multi-rooted teeth, the area where the roots divide.

gingiva – The tissue that surrounds the teeth; also known as gums.

groove – A depression in the tooth that is narrow and linear.4

incisal – Toward the cutting edge of the anterior teeth. This is the end opposite the apex of the tooth.

interdental – Space between two adjacent teeth.

interproximal – Between the adjacent surfaces of two teeth.

keratinized – Firm stippled texture, such as the tissue of the attached gingiva.

labial – Facial side; typically used in reference to anterior teeth.

lateral – Sides.

lingual – Toward the tongue.

mandibular – Referring to the lower jaw.

maxillary – Referring to the upper jaw.

mesial – Surface of the tooth facing toward the midline of the face.

midline – An imaginary line that divides the body into equal right and left halves.

mucogingival junction – An area where the mucosa meets the attached gingiva.

mucosa – The soft tissue that is non-keratinized and covers the cheeks, floor of the mouth, soft palate, alveolar processes and other structures.

occlusal – The chewing surface of the posterior (back) teeth.

occlusion – A term used to define how the upper and lower teeth meet when closing the jaws.

palate – Roof of the mouth. It is divided into two parts: the hard palate and the soft palate.

papillae – A small projection of tissue; often nipple-like.

periapical – Around the apex of the tooth.

periodontal ligaments – A thin series of fibers that connect the tooth to the bone.

periodontium – The surrounding and supporting structures of the teeth.

posterior – Toward the back of the mouth, behind.

pulp – The inner most part of the tooth that contains the blood vessels and nerves.

quadrant – The mouth is divided into 4 quadrants; 2 in the maxillary and 2 in the mandibular.

ridge – A rounded, elevated, linear area on the enamel of the tooth. There are 5 types of ridges on the teeth: marginal, triangular, oblique, transverse and cingula.4

succedaneous – The permanent teeth that replace the 20 primary teeth.

sulcus – The area formed by the free gingiva (non attached) lying next to the tooth. It is a trough area and can also be known as the gingiva crevice.

ventral – Toward the bottom surface; the underside of the tongue is known as the ventral surface.