Terms D-L


  • The removal of a foreign material, such as calculus or plaque, or removal of necrotic (dead) tissue from or adjacent to a lesion. Very commonly this term is used for a goal in nonsurgical periodontal instrumentation.

Dental Caries
(Carious Lesion)

  • Tooth decay, which is actually an infection that causes continuing destruction of tooth structure (cavities!).
  • How not to look ignorant: Don’t ever say “a carie!” There’s no singular form of the word. One cavity is still dental caries because it’s a process, but you can say a carious lesion though.


  • The teeth in the dental arches – top and bottom.


  • Open contact between teeth.


  • Away from the middle; often used to describe the side of a particular tooth that is closest to the posterior or back of the mouth.

Disto-occlusal (DO)

  • Usually refers to dental caries or a restoration located at the distal and extending onto the occlusal surface.
  • We haven’t discussed occlusal yet – it’s the chewing surface of a tooth.


  • Swelling (How easy was that?!)


  • Erythodont refers to a tooth that has a reddish color.


  • A slender, flexible instrument with a sharp point used to examine teeth for abnormalities and pathology, and to locate calculus through the use of touch. Excellent tactile sensitivity must be developed to use an explorer well.


  • The removal of a tooth or root fragment.
  • “Pulling,” “pulling out,” or “jerking out” a tooth is not the best way to describe this procedure – it often conjures up a picture in a person’s mind that is not very pleasant!


  • A fluid of epithelial cells, bacteria, serum, and other products of the inflammatory process.
  • A polite word for pus.


  • Of or toward the face, used to designate the side of the tooth that is facing away from the tongue side. The buccal and labial are both facial surfaces.




The concave area between the roots of a multi-rooted tooth.

  • It is called “bifurcation” if a tooth has two roots.
  • It is called “trifurcation” if a tooth has three.
  • If the tooth has more than three roots it’s called...weird!


  • That part of the oral masticatory mucosa that surrounds the necks of the teeth and is attached to the teeth and the alveolar bone.
  • You probably know it better as the gum!


  • An organism that loves sugar.  Where’d I put my chocolate?


  • A defect caused by a professional during the course of patient treatment.
  • A professional “oops!”

Interdental Papilla

  • Gingiva (gum tissue) that fills the space between two adjacent teeth (the space is called interproximal).
  • Papilla is usually pointed or pyramidal in anterior teeth and somewhat flatter between posterior teeth.  If teeth overlap papilla, it may be tapered and narrow; if teeth do not touch, the papilla may be flat or saddle-shaped.
  • There are actually 2 papillae in teeth that contact, one facial and one lingual, which are connected by the col.

Junctional Epithelium (JE)

  • Attachment epithelium, where the tooth and gingiva actually first begin to be attached.
  • Found at the very bottom of the gingival sulcus or periodontal pocket.
  • Think of it like the place in the bottom your pants pocket where you’d find loose change …or lint!


  • Of or toward the lips, used most often to designate the side of the tooth facing the lips, so the term would refer to an anterior tooth unless the person has really wide lips – think of someone who smiles so big you can see the second molars – now there’s some labial surfaces.


  • Of or toward the tongue, to identify the surface of a tooth that faces the tongue.