Glossary of Dental Health Terms
dentin: inner layer of tooth structure, immediately under the surface enamel.
denture: a removable or fixed replacement of artificial teeth for missing natural teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of removable dentures are available -- complete and partial. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
DMD: Doctor of Medical Dentistry; equivalent to DDS, Doctor of Dental Surgery.
dry mouth: a condition in which the flow of saliva is reduced and there is not enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Dry mouth can be the result of certain medications (such as antihistamines and decongestants), certain diseases (such as Sjögren's syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes), certain medical treatments (such as head and neck radiation), as well as nerve damage, dehydration, tobacco use, and surgical removal of the salivary glands. Also called xerostomia.
dry socket: a common complication that occurs when either a blood clot has failed to form in an extracted tooth socket or else the blood clot that did form has been dislodged.
edentulous: having no teeth.
enamel: the hard, mineralized material that covers the outside portion of the tooth that lies above the gum line (the crown).
endodontics: a field of dentistry concerned with the biology and pathology of the dental pulp and root tissues of the tooth and with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and injuries of these tissues. Root canal therapy is a commonly performed endodontic procedure.
endodontist: a dental specialist concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth.
eruption: the emergence of the tooth from its position in the jaw.
extraction: removal of a tooth.
filling: restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain, or resin materials.
fistula: channel emanating pus from an infection site; a gum boil.
flap surgery: lifting of gum tissue to expose and clean underlying tooth and bone structures.
flossing: a thread-like material used to clean between the contact areas of teeth; part of a good daily oral hygiene plan.