Definition: A partial set of artificial teeth either fixed (permanently attached) or removable for either the upper or lower jaw.

Usage: Partials are attached to the mouth via clasps that attach to the remaining natural teeth.

Definition: The practice, teaching of, and research in comprehensive, preventive, and therapeutic oral health care of children from birth through adolescence.
Usage: A dentist who specializes in pedodontics is called a Pediatric Dentist.

Periodontal Disease
Lay term: Gum disease
Definition: Inflammatory and degenerative disease of the supporting structures of the teeth.
Usage: If untreated, infection present in periodontal disease spreads to the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone, causing the teeth to become loose and eventually nonfunctional.

Periodontal Ligament
Alternate term: Periodontal membrane
Definition: Fibrous connective tissue that attaches the cementum of the tooth root to the alveolar bone of the jaw.
Usage: The periodontal ligament feels and sends pressure information to the brain, which is used to coordinate chewing.

Periodontal Pocket
Lay term: Gum pocket
Alternate term: Gingival pocket
Definition: A deepening of the gingival sulcus which occurs in response to periodontal disease.
Usage: Periodontal pockets may reach as much as 10mm in depth.

Definition: Branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their implanted substitutes.
Usage: A dentist who specializes in periodontics is called a Periodontist.

Definition: Inflammation of the periodontium affecting the periodontal ligament, cementum, and supporting bone.
Usage: If untreated, gingivitis can progress to a more serious form of disease called periodontitis.

Definition: Collective term for four supporting tissues surrounding a tooth, including the gingiva, cementum, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligament.
Usage: The periodontium is the functional unit of tissues that surrounds and supports the tooth.

Permanent Dentition
Alternate term: Secondary dentition
Definition: The 32 teeth present in an adult mouth.
Usage: If untreated, teeth crowding in primary dentition is often retained in permanent dentition.

Alternate term: Dental plaque or plaque biofilm
Definition: A sticky, whitish deposit or film (consisting of approximately 70% micro-organisms) which forms on the surface of teeth, both supragingivally and subgingivally.
Usage: The bacteria in plaque are responsible for causing both dental decay (caries) and periodontal disease.

Plaque Biofilm
Definition: Nonmineralized mass of over 700 species of bacteria in a gel matrix that adheres to teeth and soft tissues within the oral cavity.
Usage: Plaque biofilm is a soft, dense mass of microbial colonies attached to teeth that must be removed regularly, using mechanical plaque removal to prevent dental caries.

Posterior Teeth
Alternate term: Back teeth
Definition: The teeth situated behind the anterior teeth.
Usage: Posterior teeth include the premolars and molars.

Alternate term: Bicuspid
Definition: Tooth that has both a cutting and grinding function.
Usage: Typically, there are four premolars in each jaw, located in front of the molars and behind the canines.

Definition: The process of measuring the depth of periodontal pockets using a blunt-ended graduated probe.
Usage: Periodontal probing is an essential tool for diagnosing gingival disease.

Alternate term: Prophy
Lay term: Cleaning
Definition: Cleaning by a dental professional that includes removal of plaque, calculus, and stains and polishing of the teeth.
Usage: A dental prophylaxis is performed to clean the teeth as well as evaluate the oral cavity for other problems.

Alternate term: Prosthetics
Definition: Branch of dental science that deals with the artificial replacement of missing teeth by means of a denture, crown, or bridge.
Usage: A dentist who specializes in prosthetics is called a Prosthodontist.

Definition: Tooth surfaces that are close together.
Usage: The mesial surface of one tooth may touch the distal surface of the adjacent tooth, and if so, they are described as proximal surfaces.

Lay term: Nerve
Definition: The soft mass of tissue in the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels, which is surrounded by dentin.
Usage: When the pulp is traumatized, it can cause a tooth to darken in color.