Dental Terminology

Types of Teeth

You have thirty two permanent teeth; children have twenty baby teeth. The types of teeth are described below.

primary or deciduous teeth
baby teeth
anterior teeth
the six front teeth, composed of four incisors and two canines per arch, twelve in all
posterior teeth
your back teeth, composed of three molars and two premolars (also known as bicuspids)for each quadrant - twenty posterior teeth in all
maxillary teeth or arch
your upper teeth
mandibular teeth or arch
your lower teeth
incisors
the front squared teeth - two central incisors and two lateral incisors per arch, one lateral on each side of the centrals
canines
the pointed teeth, two per arch
premolars
two rooted teeth designed for chewing
molars
three rooted teeth designed for chewing

Surfaces of Teeth

incisal
biting edge of front tooth
lingual
tongue side of tooth
buccal
cheek side of tooth (called facial in front teeth)
occlusal
chewing surface of tooth
mesial
side surface of tooth, towards front of mouth
distal
side surface of tooth, towards back of mouth

Dental Specialists

endodontist
specializes in root canal therapy
oral surgeon
surgical specialist, handles extractions, jaw fractures, implants, oral cancer, other oral surgery
orthodontist
specializes in tooth straightening and braces
pedodontist
specializes in children's dentistry
periodontist
specializes in gum care and surgery
prosthodontist
specializes in replacing missing teeth, dentures, implants

Dental Procedures

amalgam
silver filling
bite guard
a plastic plate fabricated to fit over teeth to break a bruxism, or clenching habit.
bitewings
x-rays of between teeth
bridge
a fixed prosthesis consisting of a pontic (the replacement for the missing tooth) with an abutment (crown for adjacent tooth to attach to the pontic) on either side
ceramic or porcelain crown
this is a "cap" made of all ceramic material, with no metal base
composite
tooth-colored filling
panorex, or panoramic x-ray
x-ray of entire mouth area
periapical
x-ray of single tooth and root
periodontal scaling and root planing
scraping of bone under gum to remove built-up calculus
porcelain-to-metal crown
a "cap" of porcelain bonded to precious metal
prophylaxis
tooth cleaning
prosthesis
a procedure or appliance used to replace missing teeth, can be either fixed (bridge or implant) or removable (partial or full denture or over denture)
root canal or endodontics
treating an abscess by removing the nerve from the tooth, disinfecting, and filling with an inert substance
sealant
a plastic coating placed on chewing surface of molars to prevent decay

Numbering of Teeth

Permanent teeth are numbered from 1 - 32, starting at the upper right back, going to the upper left (#1-16). #17 starts at the lower left back, going back to the lower right, #32.

Primary, or baby teeth, are described by letters, going from upper right back to upper left (A-J), then lower left back to lower right (K-T).

Other Terms

bruxism
habit of clenching teeth
endodontal
pertaining to the nerve of the tooth
occlusion
how teeth mesh together for chewing
palliative treatment
minor treatment to relieve pain
periodontal
pertaining to gums
TMJ
temporomandibular joint (jaw joint)