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Professional Dental Terminology for the Dental Assistant and Hygienist

Course Number: 542


general dental practice – This is the type of dental practice that most patients seek to provide for their basic preventive and restorative needs.

gingiva – Also known as the gums.

gingival margin – The edge of the gingiva that touches the tooth. It is usually right at the crown of the tooth.

gingival recession – Sometime due to disease processes or aggressive brushing. The gingiva recedes from the crown of the tooth and portions of the root can be seen.

gingival sulcus – A small ditch-like area between the tooth and gingiva that surrounds the entire tooth. It is only attached to the tooth at its base. It is normally between 1 and 3 mm deep.

gingivitis – An inflammation of the gingiva usually due to retention of plaque/biofilm in the area caused by poor oral hygiene.

hydroxyapatite – What the dental profession refers to as the tooth mineral.

hypersensitivity – Extreme sensitivity (usually pain) in the teeth, often due to hot, cold or sweet exposure.

implant – Permanent replacement appliance in the oral cavity for a single tooth, multiple teeth or a whole arch. It is composed of an implanted base onto which a crown, bridge or full denture is permanently attached.

in vitro – Laboratory tests that are performed outside of the living organism. It is usually done in a test tube or culture dish.

in vivo – Tests that are performed inside a living organism, such as in a human.

incisal edge – The biting edge of anterior teeth.

incisors – The four anterior teeth on both the maxilla and mandible. There are two on either side of the midline.

inflammation – The body’s immune response to harmful stimuli. The signs of inflammation are pain, swelling, redness and heat in the tissue.

interdental papillae – The gingiva tissue in between each tooth. It typically fills the area between the adjacent teeth and prevents food impaction.

interproximal – The area between two adjacent teeth.

intrinsic stain (endogenous) – Stain that is incorporated within the tooth structure. It can be due to drugs, hyper-fluoridation, genetics or illness during the formation of the permanent teeth.