Many of the words and phrases used in dentistry may be unfamiliar or confusing.  Please refer to our dental dictionary to better understand your oral health care.  To learn more about dental care in Murray, Utah, and make your appointment with Dr. Morgan Smith and Associates, please contact Smith Family Dental at 801-266-4427.

A collection of pus in the mouth, which usually forms as a result of infection.

A tooth or tooth structure which is responsible for the anchoring a bridge or a denture.

A silver filling material. Amalgam consists of a compound of several types of metals, including mercury.

A special type of medication which causes temporary numbness or loss of feeling, allowing you to receive your treatment in comfort.

The front position.

The end of the root.

No micro-organism.

The gradual wearing down of the teeth due to regular activities, such as chewing.

A tooth that is completely knocked out of the mouth, usually due to injury.

A type of dental X-ray taken with the teeth bite together. Bitewing X-rays work to detect cavities in between teeth and height of bone support.

The whitening of the teeth.

A prosthesis which is fixed inside the mouth to replace missing teeth. Bridges are usually recommended when one or several teeth in a row are missing.

The grinding and clenching of teeth.  This may occur at any time, but is more common while asleep.

The third tooth from the middle of the jaw. They are the longest teeth in the human mouth, and there are four canines in your mouth.

Canker sore
An ulceration with yellow base and red border in mouth. It can be caused by trauma or herpes simplex virus.

Tooth decay; often used to refer to more serious forms of decay.

A hole on the tooth; tooth decay.

A model of teeth.

The process of “gluing” or fixing an appliance/prosthesis to the tooth/area which requires treatment.

An anti-microbial agent. It is available in many forms such as gels and rinses. It is an effective agent in controlling gum diseases.

A metal arm extended from a removable partial denture. It helps to hold onto natural tooth structure and anchors the denture in your mouth.

Cold sore
An ulcer or blister on the lip. A form of herpes simplex.

White dental fillings, usually made of a combination of resin, porcelain, and other tooth-colored materials.

An abnormal bite relationship of upper and lower jaw. The lower teeth/tooth align toward the check/ lip side more than the upper teeth/tooth.

A crown like a “cap” on a tooth. It covers the tooth partially or totally above the gum to restore its function and outlook. Crowns may be made of porcelain, plastic, or metal.

A soft substance caused by the bacterial demineralization of enamel and dentin; an infection within a tooth.

A branch of medicine that involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of any disease concerning teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures.

The position, type, and number of teeth in upper and lower jaw.

An artificial appliance used to replace missing teeth and their neighboring structures. There are many different types of denture to satisfy different treatment requirements and patient preferences, including immediate dentures, complete dentures, partial dentures, temporary dentures, and implant-supported dentures.

The person who specializes in fabricating dentures. Denturists are not responsible for making any type of diagnosis or carrying out treatments (e.g. removing teeth).

A procedure to reduce the sensitivity of teeth.

The process of identifying dental disease.

The space between two adjacent teeth.

A direction indication in the mouth. It indicates the direction away from the middle of the jaw.

No teeth.

One of the nine recognized fields of dental specialty.  Endodontics involves the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and other problems involving the dental pulp (nerves of the tooth).

The process of the tooth appearing in the mouth.

The action of cutting something off.

When a tooth is partially knocked or pushed out of the socket.

A restoration used to repair the minor damage, such as that caused by cavities.  Fillings may be made of composite material or amalgam.

A temporary denture to replace missing teeth during the waiting period for long term treatment.

A thread inserted and moved between teeth to clean below the gum line and between the teeth.

A naturally occurring mineral that works to strengthen your tooth enamel against decay.  It is found in many foods and most water supplies.

Fluoride Treatment
A preventive treatment to strengthen your tooth enamel against decay.  Fluoride treatments are usually provided as gels or rinses.

When a cusp of a tooth becomes weakened, a fracture may result. It is possible for the crack to extend further into the root and damage to the pulp is commonplace.

A metal skeleton of a removable partial denture to support the false teeth and the plastic attachments.

The mildest form of gum disease: inflammation of gum. The earliest sign is bleeding gum.


The stop of bleeding.

A condition where a tooth is not able to come in normally, or is stuck underneath another tooth or bone. This is common with wisdom teeth (third molars) and with canines.

A screw-like post that is placed in the jawbone to replace your missing tooth and support a crown, denture, or bridge.

A mold of your teeth taken to aid in creating an oral appliance.  Impressions may be made with a jelly-like material or taken digitally.

The cutting edge of front teeth.

The four upper and lower front teeth.

A restoration (usually made of gold, ceramic, or composite material) fabricated in the lab that is cemented to the tooth to restore function and appearance.  Inlays are recommended when you require more treatment than a filling, but less than a crown.

The space between two adjacent teeth.

The tongue side of the teeth.

The side of the tooth towards the middle of the jaw.

The last three upper and lower teeth on both sides of the mouth.

Mouth Guard
An appliance worn in your mouth.  There are many types of mouth guards available, from athletic guards to prevent injury to night guards to manage bruxism or other conditions.

A type mouth guard worn at night.  Night guards may be used to prevent damage from bruxism, or as part of a snoring or sleep apnea treatment.

The biting surface of the back teeth.

The way how the upper and lower teeth close together.

A restoration covers the entire biting surface of a tooth. Onlays are created in dental labs, and are often recommended by dentists as a more conservative treatment than a dental crown.

Open bite
The situation where the upper teeth not able to contact the opposing lower teeth.

One of the nine fields of dental specialty.  Orthodontics involves the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of irregular bites and facial abnormalities or imbalances.

The overlap of upper teeth and lower teeth when they close together.

The portion of filling material that hangs beyond the border of the cavity.

The roof of the mouth.

Panoramic X-Ray
A type of X-ray used for the wide view of upper and lower jaw and their associated structures.

An opening on a tooth or other oral structure.

The surrounding of the bottom of the root of a tooth.

One of the nine fields of dental specialty.  Periodontics involves the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal (gum) disease and related problems, as well as implant dentistry.

Permanent teeth
The adult teeth.  Permanent teeth usually begin to erupt at about age 6.

A piece of “nail-like” metal. It usually is used for better retention of a filling.

A process to make your tooth, filling, or denture smooth and glossy.

The false tooth in a bridge or denture to replace the missing tooth.

A big pin which can be made with different materials such as metal or carbon. Its function usually is to support a big buildup on a tooth.

Located at the back.

An approval from the particular authority (usually an insurance company in dentistry) before any action (treatment) is carried out.

Medication taken before treatment.

The two teeth located in front of the molar.

A written statement (from a doctor to a pharmacist) regarding the type, the amount, and use of a medication for a patient. In dentistry, a prescription can also be a written statement for preparation of an appliance from a dentist to a lab technician.

Primary teeth
Baby teeth. Primary teeth begin developing before birth, and typically begin erupting 6-12 months after birth.  Children should meet with a dentist no later than 1 year of age for a checkup.

Teeth cleaning and polishing to prevent cavities, decay, disease, and other problems.

An artificial tooth or appliance used to replace missing teeth and associated structures.

One of the nine recognized fields of dental specialty.  Prosthodontics involves the diagnosis, treatment planning, and creation of artificial tooth replacements or appliances.

The innermost part of a tooth, containing nerves and blood vessels.

The removal of the entire pulp within a tooth.

The removal of the top part of the pulp inside a tooth.

The full name of an X-ray.

The regular checkup and teeth cleaning appointment.

The process of re-gluing or re-fixing an appliances or dental prosthesis back into place after it has come loose or fallen out.

Any treatment used to restore the normal function of a tooth or teeth.  Common restorations include fillings, crowns, bridges, inlays, and onlays.

An orthodontic appliance used following brace or other treatment to maintain the position of the teeth and jaw.

The process of repeating the root canal treatment.

The bottom part of tooth. It anchors the tooth to its supporting units.

Root canal
The canal that runs inside the root of the tooth. It contains the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth.

Root canal treatment
A treatment performed to remove decay, infection, and inflammation within the root canals.

Root planing
The action of cleaning the root area of teeth.

Rubber dam
A rubber sheet that fits around teeth. It isolates the treatment area from the rest of the oral cavity.

The action of cleaning teeth below the gum line to remove harmful bacteria and debris.

A thin layer of plastic-like material covering the grooves and pits on a tooth.  Sealants block out plaque, bacteria, and food debris to prevent cavities.


Medication used to help patients stay calm and relaxed during their appointments.  Common forms of sedation dentistry include nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation, and IV sedation.

Space Maintainer
An appliance to hold the space between the teeth open in preparation for the permanent tooth.  Space maintainers are often recommended when a tooth falls out or is removed too early.

An appliance or a material to prevent movement of a mobile part.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
The joint that connects the upper and lower jaw.

An outgrowth of bone. It usually develops on the roof of the mouth or around the premolar area on the lower jaw.

A shell of tooth-colored material (usually made of porcelain, composite materials, or ceramics) that attaches to the front of the tooth. Veneers are a cosmetic treatment designed to improve the appearance of your teeth and smile.

Wisdom tooth
The eighth (also the last) tooth from the middle of the jaw. Also known as third molars.

Dry mouth.