Terms A-C

Alveolar Bone

  • The bone that surrounds and supports the tooth and associated structures.
  • The word “alveolar” means cavity or tunnel.
  • Alveolar bone is similar in appearance to a sponge.
  • Also called alveolar process.

Alveolar Bone Loss (BL)

  • Duh, loss of supporting bone of a tooth, usually due to periodontal disease
  • Is used as an indicator of the presence and severity of periodontal disease
  • A goal in periodontal therapy is to preserve the alveolar bone.

Alveolar Mucosa

  • Movable soft tissue that is loosely bound to underlying bone. Not present on maxillary hard palate.
  • Alveolar mucosa usually looks redder than the rest of the gingiva


  • A metal alloy containing mercury commonly used for dental restorations
  • Also called a “silver filling”


  • Situated near the front – where one wants to be in all your dental education classes!

Apex (apical)

Pointed end of a cone-shaped part (the pointy part of an ice cream cone would be its apex), but we’ll be using it as the terminal end of the root of a tooth


  • A structure of bow-like or curved outline (the side view of Santa’s tummy!),
  • Often used to indicate the top or bottom jaw. You might hear someone say “the bottom arch” and they would be referring to the mandible or bottom jaw.

Board of Dentistry

  • Although the state regulatory boards go by different names, Board of Dentistry is the term frequently used to identify the body responsible for formulation, adoption and dissemination of the rules necessary to comply with the laws regulating the practice of dentistry in a state. The board is usually also responsible for implementing and enforcing provisions of the State Dental Practice Act (a name for the law or statues regulating the practice of dentistry in a state.)


  • Pertaining to or directed toward the cheek (where that truly evil chewing tobacco resides in many guys’ mouths). It is often used to designate the side of the tooth that faces the cheek.


  • Food or other edibles that promote tooth decay. Unfortunately most cariogenic foods are yummy!

Cemento-enamel Junction (CEJ)

  • The outer surface of a tooth where the root joins to the crown. It can be observed as a line where the color changes from enamel to cementum and can usually be felt as a “jump” with an explorer.


  • Calcified connective tissue that covers the outside surface of a tooth’s root.

Clinical Attachment Loss (CAL)

  • Movement of the supporting structures of a tooth in an apical direction, usually the result of periodontal disease
  • What this means is that some of the alveolar bone is destroyed and the junctional epithelium, the soft tissue attachment, moves apically. So with enough CAL, the tooth gets loose and may be lost.
  • The CAL measures


  • An acronym for College of Dentistry
  • May also be SOD (School of Dentistry)
  • Why dental schools want to be named after a fish or grass is beyond me!


  • The depression in the gingival tissue underneath a contact area between the lingual papilla and facial papilla. Volcano-shaped tissue beneath area where 2 teeth contact one another.


  • Rounded and somewhat depressed or hollowed out
  • Think of a cave as being a hollowed out part of a hillside


  • Having a rounded, somewhat elevated surface (the hill itself)


  • Toward the crown of a tooth (a prince or princess is usually headed in a “coronal” direction)