Common Dentist Terminology
Dental Terminology at See Me Smile Dental Oxnard CA

Dental Glossary

Explore Our A-Z Glossary of Dental Terminology

We believe that a big part of oral wellness is education. But who has time to keep up with all the complex terminology associated with teeth, gums, and the rest?

It’s why we’ve put together a handy dental glossary to help you understand exactly what we’re discussing when these topics come up.

This way, you’ll be clear about any aspect of your diagnosis or treatment plan. Click any letter below to search this dental knowledge glossary and empower yourself toward better oral health.

Oxnard Dental Glossary

Here are some terms that cover some of the conditions and procedures of the dental field.


Abrasion -

The wearing down of enamel due to eating certain foods, drinking certain liquids, improper brushing techniques, subpar dental hygiene supplies, or bad habits like nail biting.

Abutment -

The unit that provides support to an artificial tooth on a dental implant or bridge.

Air Abrasion -

A technique that sees compressed air or gas used to blast particles of baking soda or silica onto teeth in order to remove stains or treat minor decay.

Anterior Teeth -

The six upper and lower front teeth, specifically the central/lateral incisors and canines.


Bitewings -

The most routine type of dental x-ray - this allows a dentist to see between the upper and lower back teeth.

Bonding -

The use of composite material to fill minor cracks, chips, and discoloration - can also be used to fill a decayed front tooth.

Bruxism -

Clenching and grinding teeth - sometimes done as a stress response or while sleeping.


Calculus -

Calcified plaque that has hardened against a tooth (also called tartar) that requires special procedures to remove.

Caries -

Dental decay.

Composite Filling -

A tooth-colored filling. Composite material is made of fine plastic or glass particles, in various shades to match a tooth’s natural color.


Decalcification -

When a tooth loses calcium, which makes it more vulnerable to decay. Sometimes also called demineralization.

Deciduous Teeth -

Baby/primary teeth.

Dentin -

The layer within the teeth that protects the nerve - erosion leads to sensitivity.

Dentures -

Custom-designed replacements or missing teeth, available in partials or full sets.

Digital X-rays -

A tool for examining teeth and gums, providing high-quality images that can be colorized, zoomed in on, and analyzed in-depth to aid in the planning of dental procedures. These x-rays also reduce radiation exposure.


Enamel -

The outside layer of the tooth - a hard surface that’s white and protects the dentin beneath.

Endodontics -

A treatment option for conditions that can impact the tooth’s pulp or the tip of the tooth’s root.

Erosion -

A process that sees the enamel of a tooth wear away due to acid exposure, usually from dietary choices but also from gastric conditions.


Fluoride -

A natural mineral from water and the Earth’s crust that can harden enamel to reduce the chance of cavities.


Gingivitis -

A condition where the bacteria in dental plaque causes inflammation of the gum tissue. While it may not result in pain, it could lead to periodontitis.

Gum Disease -

A condition that sees gums become inflamed due to acid, plaque, and dietary choices. Could also impact the supporting teeth and bones.


Halitosis -

A condition of foul breath, sometimes caused by dry mouth, illness, or dental hygiene issues such as tooth decay or gum infection.

Hygienist -

A dental professional who specializes in cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, and performing other tasks related to the health and appearance of teeth.


Impacted Tooth -

A situation where a tooth does not have room to fully come into the mouth - could result in the tooth only partially emerging from the gum, or even remaining completely in the bone due to spacing and crowding issues.

Incisors -

The four teeth located on the top of bottom of the mouth used to bite and slice - sometimes also called central and lateral incisors.


Laser Gum Surgery -

Surgery that uses a laser to restore gum health by removing diseases tissue before it can spread to other teeth and areas of the mouth.


A term that refers to the tongue, or the surfaces of the teeth that face or touch the tongue.


Mandible -

The lower jawbone.

Maxilla -

The upper jawbone.

Molars -

Back teeth. The smaller ones are known as premolars or bicuspids, due to being situated by the molars and cuspids. Molars and premolars are helpful for grinding up food.


Nerve -

Also known as the pulp, this is the innermost layer of the tooth that contains nerves, vessels, and connective tissues.


Occlusal -

The biting surfaces of the teeth.

Occlusion -

The technical term for a bite, or the way the teeth fit together. Proper biting protects teeth, jaw joints, face muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Misalignment and abnormal fitting can lead to soreness and even TMJ issues in some cases.


Periodontitis -

Known as periodontal disease, or gum disease. This is a serious gum infection that can impact the gums, lead to tooth loss, and even damage bones.

Plaque -

The sticky substance that builds up on teeth overnight and after eating. This substance contains a great deal of bacteria and can cause decay if not removed every day.

Posterior Teeth -

Black Teeth


Receding Gums -

A condition that sees more of the teeth become exposed as gums move upward, usually as a result of excess plaque buildup or poor brushing technique.

Retainer -

A device that is typically used to adjust and maintain the position of teeth after braces are removed.

Root Canal -

A procedure that can remove diseased or damaged pulp so the space can be cleaned and sealed off.


Scaling -

A technique that removes tartar, plaque, and biofilm from teeth and the area below the gum line.

Supernumerary Teeth -

Extra teeth that some people are born with.


Tartar -

Hardened plaque, also known as calculus, which must be removed using specialized procedures.untreated, it may cause damage to the gums and teeth.

Temporary Crown or Filling -

Temporary procedures that can be used to protect a tooth until a permanent filling or crown can be put in place.

Tooth Decay -

The erosion of tooth enamel due to acid, usually because of poor dental hygiene or diet. This results in demineralization, which weakens the tooth and can cause pain.

Tempomandibular Joint (TMJ) -

The jaw joints. These are what connect the upper jawbone (maxilla) and lower jawbone (mandible) in a way that acts like a hinge, allowing the jaw to move in multiple directions.


Underbite -

A misalignment of the jaw that causes the lower teeth to extend beyond the upper ones at the front of the mouth. Opposite of an overbite.


Veneers -

Thin porcelain shells that are fitted over the front teeth to improve appearances, cover gaps, hide stains, correct chips, and provide more aesthetically pleasing shapes.


Wisdom Teeth -

Known as the third molars, these are the final teeth to come into the mouth, typically between the ages of 17 and 25. Most patients have these sets on the top and bottom of the mouth, while some may not develop one or either set at all.


X-ray -

An image of teeth, gums, and jawbones - this allows for dentists to take a closer look at the mouth to spot hidden dental issues that would otherwise be impossible to see and treat.