Glossary of Dental Health Terms
cementum: hard tissue that covers the roots of teeth.
clasp: device that holds a removable partial denture to stationary teeth.
cleaning: removal of plaque and calculus (tarter) from teeth, generally above the gum line.
cleft lip: a physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip that appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. This separation often extends beyond the base of the nose and includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum.
cleft palate: a split or opening in the roof of the mouth.
composite resin filling: tooth-colored restorative material composed of plastic with small glass or ceramic particles; usually "cured" or hardened with filtered light or chemical catalyst. An alternative to silver amalgam fillings.
conventional denture: a denture that is ready for placement in the mouth about eight to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.
cosmetic (aesthetic) dentistry: a branch of dentistry under which treatments are performed to enhance the color and shape of teeth.
crown: (1) the portion of a tooth above the gum line that is covered by enamel; (2) dental restoration covering all or most of the natural tooth; the artificial cap can be made of porcelain, composite, or metal and is cemented on top of the damaged tooth.
cuspids: the third tooth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the front teeth that have one rounded or pointed edge used for biting. Also known as canines.
cusps: the high points on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
cyst: an abnormal sac containing gas, fluid, or a semisolid material.
DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery -- equivalent to DMD, Doctor of Dental Medicine.
decay: destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria.
deciduous teeth: commonly called "baby teeth" or primary teeth; the first set of (usually) 20 teeth.
demineralization: loss of mineral from tooth enamel just below the surface in a carious lesion; usually appears as a white area on the tooth surface.