Abbreviations, Acronyms and Initialisms

  • Abbreviation – a shortened form of a word
  • Acronym - an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word. For example, NASA, SCUBA or CAL
  • Initialism - an abbreviation consisting of initial letters pronounced separately. For example, CPU, FBI or BP
  • For simplicity, only the term ‘abbreviation’ will be used is the following section.

You can decrease the amount of time spent on paperwork by using abbreviations for patient treatment records. While patient treatment records are important for good patient treatment and follow-up, records also legal documents, so abbreviations and their meanings should be the same in every record. To be certain that everyone in the office uses the same abbreviations and understands what the abbreviations mean, it is a good idea to create a “key” to the abbreviations used in your office so that way anyone writing or reading a record can understand exactly what is being conveyed. A good idea is to post an abbreviation “key” where all employees can see it to help ensure that all of your records contain consistent and accurate information. The key will help all employees, past, present and future, as well as serve as a part of the legal record.

The following list is a compilation of some commonly used abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms:

↑ – Increase

↓ – Decrease

adv– Advanced

anes – Anesthetic (e.g., local anesthetic)

ant – Anterior

approx – Approximately

appt – Appointment

ASA – Acetylsalicylic acid or aspirin

ASA – Anterior superior alveolar injection

ASAP – As soon as possible

B – Buccal

bid – Twice a day

bilat – Bilateral

BOP – bleeding on probing

BP – Blood pressure

BW – Bitewing radiographs

– With. From the Latin word “cum”

C/C – (Complete/complete) complete maxillary denture and complete mandibular denture

C/P – Complete maxillary denture and partial mandibular denture

CAL – Clinical attachment level

Cau – Caucasian

CC – Chief complaint

cc – Cubic centimeter

CEJ – cementoenamel junction

CHD – Congestive heart disease

CHF – Congestive heart failure

CHX – Chlorhexidine

CNS – Central nervous system

cont – Continue, continued

COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

CP – Cerebral palsy

CVA – Cerebral vascular accident (stroke)

D – Distal

DA – Dental assistant

DC or D/C – Discontinue

DH – Dental hygienist or dental hygiene

DOB – Date of birth

Dx – Diagnosis

e.g. – For example

ea – Each

EBV – Epstein Barr virus

ECG or EKG – Electrocardiogram

Echo – Echocardiogram

EIE – Extraoral intraoral examination

Emer – Emergency

Endo – Endodontic

ER or ED – Emergency room or emergency department

eval – Evaluation

EX – Examination

ext – Extract, extraction

fen-phen – Fenfluramine and Phentermine

Fl, Fl2, F, F2 – Fluoride

FMR, FMX (outdated), FMS – Full mouth radiographs

FPD – Fixed partial denture; a bridge

freq – Frequent, frequency

Fx – Fracture

gen – General, generalized

GI – Gastrointestinal

ging – Gingivitis, gingiva

H2O – Water

H2O2 – Hydrogen peroxide

HAV – Hepatitis A virus

HBP – High blood pressure, hypertension

HBV – Hepatitis B virus

HCV – Hepatitis C virus

HIV – Human immunodeficiency virus

hr – Hour

HS – At bedtime

Hx – History

IDDM – Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Type I is the current, preferred term

IM – Intramuscular

imp – Impression

inc – Incisal, incisive, incise

inf – Inferior

Irreg – Irregular

Irrig – Irrigation

IV – Intravenous

L, Ling – Lingual

LA – Lower anterior

LL – Lower left quadrant. Also called Quadrant 3

loc – Local, localized, local anesthetic

LR – Lower right quadrant. Also called Quadrant 4

M – Mesial

mand – Mandibular

marg – Marginal

max – Maxillary or maximum

meds – Medication

MHx – Medical history

MI – Myocardial Infarction (heart attack)

min – Minimum, minute

mm – Millimeter

mo – Month

MO – Mesiocclusal

MOD – Mesiocclusodistal

mod – Moderate

MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging

MSA – Middle superior alveolar injection.

MVP – Mitral Valve Prolapse

N/A, NA – Not applicable

N2O – Nitrous oxide

nec – Necessary

neg – Negative

NIDDM – Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Type II is the current, preferred term

NKA/NKDA – No known allergies/no known drug allergies

NPO – Nothing by mouth

NV – Next visit

O, occ – Occlusal

O2 – Oxygen

OD – Oral diagnosis

OH – Oral hygiene

OHI – Oral hygiene instructions

OP – Operative

ORL – Otorhinolaryngology or otolaryngology. Refers to head and neck area.

OS – Oral surgery

OTC – Over the counter (drug that can be obtained without a prescription)

P – Pulse

P/P – Partial maxillary denture and partial mandibular denture

PA – Periapical radiograph

pano – Panoramic radiograph

Path – Pathology

PCN or PEN – Penicillin

PD – Periodontal debridement

perio – Periodontal, periodontitis

PFM – Porcelain fused to metal

PMT, PMTx – Periodontal maintenance therapy or treatment

PO – Orally; by mouth

PPE – personal protective equipment such as gloves, mask, gown and eye protection

post – Posterior, After

postop – After surgery

PRN, prn – As needed; as necessary

PSA – Posterior superior alveolar injection

PSR – Periodontal screening and recording

Pt, pt – Patient

Px, PX, prog – Prognosis

q – Every

qd – Every day

qid – Four times a day

Quad or Q – Quadrant. May be followed by a number to specify a particular quadrant.

R – Respiration

rc – Rubber cup

RCTx or RCT – Root canal treatment

rec – Recession

Re-eval, reeval – Re-evaluation, re-evaluate

ref – Referral

reg – Regular

RHD – Rheumatic heart disease

RPD – Removable partial denture

Rx – Prescription

– Without. From the Latin word “sine”

SBE – Subacute bacterial endocarditis. Preferred abbreviation and term is IE – infective endocarditis

Sig – Write on label

slt – Slight

SOB – Short of breath

STAT – Immediately

STD – Sexually transmitted disease. The preferred abbreviation and term are STI – sexually transmitted infection

Surg – Surgery

TB – Tuberculosis

tb – Toothbrush

temp – Temperature

tid – Three times a day

TLC – Tender loving care

TMD – Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction or Disorder

TMJ – Temporomandibular Joint

tp – Toothpaste

Tx – Treatment

UL – Upper left quadrant. Also called Quadrant 2.

UNK or unk - unknown

UR – Upper right quadrant. Also called Quadrant 1.

URI – Upper respiratory infection

UTI – urinary tract infection

w/ – With

w/o – Without

WNL – Within normal limits

wt – Weight

y/o – Year(s) old

yr – Year