The world as a dental assistant is unlike any other. With every new profession there comes with it a new set of terminology that’s used by experts in the profession. Dental assisting is no different. That’s why at DOT by Lynn have put together a list of some of the top dental assistant terms that you will most likely use in your career in dental assisting. If you’re considering a career in dental assisting, give us a call at 317-585-9015.
There’s a lot that’s special about the world of dental terminology that doesn’t translate so easy to the non-dental world. That’s something that we stress in an education at DOT by Lynn, terminology. We want you to be a professional and will be proud to call you a graduate of DOT by Lynn. So let’s whet your whistle with a few commonly used or top dental assistant terms.
Arch: Term used to refer to an upper or lower denture.
Archform: The shape of the dental arch.
Aspirator: A tube like a straw which the dentist and/or assistant put in the mouth to suck up all the saliva.
Basic Cleaning: Basic or routine cleaning for a normal amount of plaque build-up. Preventive treatment for patients with healthy gum tissue, not intended for patients with past history of or current gum disease. Price does not include a periodic examination, X-rays or fluoride treatment.
Bicuspid: A premolar tooth; a tooth with two cusps.
Biopsy: Process of removing tissue for histologic evaluation.
Bleaching: A cosmetic dental procedure.
Bonding: A composite resin applied to a tooth to change its shape and/or color. Bonding also refers to how a filling, orthodontic appliance or some fixed partial dentures are attached to teeth.
Bruxism: Clenching or grinding of the teeth.
Calculus: Hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth.
Cavity: Decay in tooth caused by caries; also referred to as carious lesion.
Caries: Another name for tooth decay.
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Cementum: Hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.
Class I Malocclusion: The bite is okay, but the teeth are crooked, crowded, or turned.
Class II Malocclusion: Overbite
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Class III Malocclusion: Underbite
Composite Restoration: A tooth colored filling.
Curettage: Surgical scraping of bacteria from the soft tissue.
Cusp: The pointed portion of the tooth.
Cross Contamination: Passing bacteria, viruses or AIDS indirectly from one patient to another through the use of improper sterilization procedures, unclean instruments, or “recycling” of orthodontic products.
Crossbite: A malocclusion where some of your upper teeth are inside of your lower teeth when you bite down.
Crown: An artificial tooth: an artificial replacement for the covering on a tooth.
Crowding: An orthodontic problem caused by having too many teeth in too small of a space.
DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery
Decay: The lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure.
Dental Assistant: Assistants who perform lab tasks, such as taking impressions of a patient’s teeth, work under the direction of a dentist. They may prepare materials for dental impressions or to create temporary crowns.
Dental Hygienist: A dental professional that practices the preventative oral healthcare of their patients. They clean teeth, examine gums, collect medical history, and educate their patients on oral care techniques
Decalcification: Loss of calcium from your teeth.
Dental Prophylaxis: Scaling and polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque, calculus, and stains.
Dental Prosthesis: An artificial device that replaces one or more missing teeth.
Dental Specialist: A dentist who has received postgraduate training in one of the recognized dental specialties.
Dentin: The part of the tooth that is beneath the enamel and cementum.
Dentition: Arrangement of teeth.
Denture: An artificial substitute for natural teeth and adjacent tissues.
Diagnosis: Process of identifying the nature of a disorder.
Diastema: Space between two teeth.
Distal: Behind, towards the back of the mouth.
DMD: Doctor of Dental Medicine
Drift: Unwanted movement of teeth.
Edentulous: All teeth are missing in either the upper or lower arch.
Eruption: When a new tooth comes in.
Exfoliate: To fall out.
Extraoral: Outside of the mouth.
Extraoral Photograph: Facial photos.
Extrusion: Movement in the direction of eruption.
Fixed Appliance: An appliance that is cemented or bonded.
Fracture: The breaking of a part, especially of a bony structure; breaking of a tooth.
General Anesthesia: Relieves the sensation of pain on the whole body by rendering you unconscious.
Gingiva: Soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.
Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums caused by improper brushing.
Graft: A piece of tissue or alloplastic material placed in contact with tissue to repair a defect or supplement a deficiency.
Impressions: The process taken to make a model of your teeth.
Impacted Tooth: An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue, so that complete eruption is unlikely.
Implant: Titanium post that is implanted in the bone.
Incisal: The biting edge of your centrals and laterals.
Incisors: Central and lateral teeth located in the front with the flat edges for biting.
Inlay: Restoration made of metal, acrylic or porcelain that does not involve the cusps of the tooth.
Interproximal: Space between adjacent teeth.
Intraoral: Inside the mouth.
Intrusion: Movement of a tooth back into the bone.
Irrigation: Technique of using a solution to wash out or flush debris.
Jaw: Common name for either the maxilla or the mandible.
Labial: Tooth surface next to the lips.
Lesion: Injury or wound; area of diseased tissue.
Lingual: Tooth surface next the the tongue.
Local Anesthesia: Relieves the sensation of pain in a localized area.
Malignant: Having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and metastasis.
Malocclusion: Poor positioning of the teeth.
Mandibular: Pertaining to the lower jaw.
Masticate: The chew food or mix food with saliva.
Maxilla: The upper jaw.
Maxillary: Pertaining to your upper jaw.
Mesial: Towards the midline.
Midline: Plane through the very center of the mouth, perpendicular to the nose.
Mixed Dentition: When both deciduous and permanent teeth are present.
Mouthguard: Appliance that is used to protect the mouth from injury.
Occlusal: Pertaining to the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth or contacting surfaces of opposing teeth or opposing occlusion rims.
Occlusal Plane: Imaginary surface on which upper and lower teeth meet.
Onlay: Restoration made of metal, acrylic or porcelain that replaces one or more of the cusps of the tooth
Open Bite: Malocclusion in which the teeth do not close or come together in the front of the mouth.
Oral: Pertaining to the mouth.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries, deformities, defects and esthetic aspects of the oral and maxillofacial regions.
Orthodontist: A dental specialist whose practice is limited to the interception and treatment of malocclusion of the teeth and their surrounding structures.
Overbite: Vertical overlapping of the upper teeth of the lower teeth.
Overjet: Horizontal projection of upper teeth beyond the lower teeth.
Palate: Roof of the mouth.
Partial Denture: Usually refers to a prosthetic device that replaces missing teeth.
Pathogens: Disease producing organisms that can exist in many different places.
Pathology: Study of abnormal tissue conditions.
Panoramic X-Ray: X-ray taken to view all teeth, jaws, and other important information.
Perio Charting: Measures the depth that the gums have detached from the side of the tooth forming a pocket.
Perio Pocket: Pocket that forms when the gums detach from the side of the tooth.
Periodontal: Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.
Periodontal Abscess: An infection in the gum pocket that can destroy hard and soft tissues.
Periodontal Disease: Inflammatory process of the gingival tissues and/or periodontal membrane of the teeth, resulting in an abnormally deep gingival sulcus, possibly producing periodontal pockets and loss of supporting alveolar bone.
Plaque: It is a colorless, odorless, sticky substance containing acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Pontic: Part of the bridge that replaces the missing teeth.
Posterior: Pertaining to describe the back of the mouth or the back teeth.
Preventative: Procedure performed to prevent decay and gum disease.
Proper Occlusion: Teeth that are straight and aligned.
Prosthetics: Fixed or removable appliance to replace missing teeth.
Proximal: Surfaces of teeth that touches the next tooth.
Radiolucency: Appearance of dark images due to a greater amount of radiation
Radiopacity: Appearance of light images due to a lesser amount of radiation.
Reline: To resurface the side of the denture that is in contact with the soft tissues of the mouth to make it fit more securely.
Restorative: Procedure performed to restore the missing part of the teeth.
Root: The anatomic portion of the tooth that is covered by cementum and is located in the alveolus (socket) where it is attached by the periodontal apparatus; radicular portion of tooth.
Root Canal: Procedure where the nerve of the tooth is removed and replaced with a filling material.
Sealant: Clear or white application of acrylic placed over the biting surface of the tooth to prevent decay.
Space Maintainer: Appliance used to maintain a space in the mouth.
Sterilization: Process where a medical material is treated to remove all possible germs and other forms of life.
Submandibular Glands: Walnut-sized major salivary glands located beneath the tongue.
Supernumerary Teeth: Extra teeth.
Sutre: Stitch used to repair incision or wound.
Tartar: Another name for calculus.
Temporary Removable Denture: An interim prosthesis designed for use over a limited period of time.
Temporomandibularjoint (TMJ): The connecting hinge mechanism between the base of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jaw (mandible).
Unerupted: Tooth/teeth that have not penetrated into the oral cavity.
Veneer: In the construction of crowns or pontics, a layer of tooth-colored material usually, but not limited to, composite, porcelain, ceramic or acrylic resin, attached to the surface by direct fusion, cementation, or mechanical retention; also refers to a restoration that is luted to the facial surface of a tooth.
Dental Assistant Terms are Numerous
As you can see, terms a dental assistant should know can be a bit overwhelming if you let it. But at DOT by Lynn, we make sure that all of our grads are well versed in commonly used dental assistant terms. At DOT by Lynn, we are one of the best dental assistant programs in Indiana, call us at 317-585-9015 to find out why.