Dccaud.gif (3110 bytes)Glossary of  DentalDccaud.gif (3110 bytes)Terminology
Souviron and Groh, Dental Leaders

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Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.
Select the underlined links for in depth information on selected terms.
In no way does this material represent medical advice or take the place of
professional examination, diagnosis, and treatment.

- A -

          Abfraction-  Wear, or notching, at the neck of a tooth at or below the gumline.   Often sensitive, often                                  accompanied by gum recession.   Thought to be caused by excessive clenching or grinding.                                  Requires bonding when too deep.

                   Abscess-  A pocket or sack of pus and gas produced by an infection.  Painful when pressure builds up.

          Abutment, Implant-  The part of an implant restoration that brings the height of an implant from below to                                    above the gumline.  Allows the restoration to be attached to the implant.

          Abutment Tooth-  An anchor tooth for a fixed bridge.

          ADA-  The American Dental Association.

          AHA Prophylaxis-  Antibiotic premedication prescribed by the American Heart Association to protect                        patients with heart murmurs, mitral valve prolapse, rheumatic fever history, and other conditions                        from infections within the heart.  See SBE.

          Air Abrasion-  A resurgance of an old technique whereby cavities are prepared with a device similar to a                          sandblaster.   Such a "particle beam" works best on new fillings; old fillings and restorations are                           very difficult and time consuming to remove with this technique.  The main advantage is that for                           many people, small to medium sized new cavities may be prepared without "novocaine".   The                            noise is also much less than from a conventional handpiece.

          Alginate Impression- A quick setting impression material used to make study models and some dental                        appliances.   Sets in about 90 seconds.

          Amalgam Filling-  The traditional silver filling.   Actually a mixture of silver, mercury, copper, and tin.  Long                          lasting, but expands and oxidizes over time.  Can slow down the decay process.  Not esthetic.

          ANUG-  Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, commonly called trenchmouth.  Rare today because of                          higher hygiene standards, but still seen.  Causes irreversible loss of gum tissue.

          Apexification-  A special type of root canal treatment used on young teeth to help them to continue to grow                          despite damage to the nerve tissue.  Requires changing an internal medicament about every 90                           days and can take six to eighteen months to finish.  It is generally a painless treatment.

          Aphthous Ulcer-  see Canker Sore.
          Apicoectomy-  A surgical root canal treatment used to seal the tip of a root when conventional root canal                          treatment has failed or is contraindicated.  Usually a very straightforward treatment with quick                          recovery.
Autoimmune-  Types of disease in which the body reacts against itself.  Some types of arthritis fall into this                            category, as well as Sjogren's Syndrome.
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- B -

          Behavior Management- Techniques used to gain the cooperation and trust of fearful or obstreperous                              children.  The ones we use are psychologically accepted and are as accepted by the American                               Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Bisque Try In-  Checking the esthetics and function of a crown prior to the final finishing and glazing of the                      porcelain.  Sometimes called a "Biscuit Bake".
Bitewings-  Dental radiographs which check for cavities in-between the teeth as well as showing the quantity                      and quality of bone in-between the teeth.
Bleaching-  see Whitening.
Bonding-  The name given to the process of placing esthetic white fillings.  As different from amalgam                      fillings, these bonded fillings actually adhere to the tooth structure and make the tooth stronger.                      There is a slightly higher incidence of short term sensitivity than with silver fillings, but they are                      very esthetic, often indistinguishable from natural teeth.

          Bone Graft-  Surgical replacement of bone around tooth roots or in preparation for a dental implant.  The                              predictability is generally good, but varies according to the particulars, and should be carefully                              discussed with your doctors.

          Bridge, Fixed-  Replacing a missing tooth by placing at least two crowns on adjacent teeth and suspending a                              false tooth, or pontic, in between or cantilevered from one end.  This restoration is cemented to                              your teeth and is not removable.  It is carefully crafted for esthetics, fit, comfort, and cleansibility.                              Depending on the size and situation, the bridge may take from two to six visits to complete.  A                              quality provisional (temporary) bridge will be in place in-between appointments.

          Bridge, Removable-  see Removable Partial Denture.

          Bruxism-  The habit of clenching and grinding the teeth using extremes of muscle power.  Often some part of                              the mastication system is harmed, either the muscles, the jaw joint, or the teeth.  Over thirty                              percent of the population does this to some degree, mostly at night in deep sleep stages.   People                              are often unaware of the habit until either signs or symptoms appear.  The habit often correlates                              with physical or emotional stress.

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- C -

Calculus-  The scientific term for tartar, which is the accumulation of calcified substance that adheres to the                  teeth.   Calculus is microscopically porous, and provides a multitude of hiding places for the                   bacteria that cause gum disease.  It should be removed on a schedule chosen specifically for the                   individual needs of each patient.  It is the major target of your "cleanings".
Cantilever Bridge-  A fixed bridge in which the false tooth, or pontic, is supported only on one side.  The                  supporting side, or abutments, must be especially strong and well designed, and the bite must be                  scientifically arranged to minimize leverage forces.
Canker Sore-  A painful ulcer that lasts seven to ten days, usually on the looser gum tissue in the softer                  areas of the mouth.  Scientifically known as aphthae, these ulcers can sometimes occur on the                  tongue, palate, and throat.  They can be treated with steroid cream if they are debilitating.   The                  over the counter styptic "alum" also works well.
Cap-  see Crown.

          Cementation-  The placement of a fixed crown or bridge with a dental cement to assure retention.

          Cerebral PalsyCP is a neurologic condition caused by oxygen deficiency at some time during the                              development of a baby.  A wide variation in the level of affliction is seen, although the condition is                              characterized by poor control of motor movements and overcontracted muscles.  The more                              severely afflicted CP patients often have excessive saliva, excessive calculus, and thankfully                               very few problems with cavities.  We find more gum care necessary for these patients than might                               be expected, as some of their medications also contribute to gum problems.

Cleft Lip/Palate-  A common craniofacial defect in which the upper lip and nose form incorrectly during                  embryonic development.  In antiquity, this condition was referred to as "hare lip".   Clefts cause                  disfigurement and misalignment of the jaws.  Fortunately, in this country, almost no children are                  allowed to grow with this condition untreated, despite the fact that it occurs as commonly as 1 in                   700 births.   Dr. Groh is proud to be the co-founder of the esteemed Craniofacial Center at Miami                  Children's Hospital, which specifically helps children with this problem.
Clenching-  The habit of consciously or unconsciously squeezing the teeth together with extraordinary                   muscle force.   See Bruxism.
Cold Sore-  The common name for blisters cause by the Herpes Simplex virus, to which 98% of the world's                  population has been exposed by the age of two.  This is a different but similar virus to that which                  causes genital herpes.  Cold sores often occur on the external lip (herpes labialis), and on the gum                  tissue near the teeth.  They last from seven to ten days, and can be treated with antiviral                     medications when severe.
Compomer-  A new material used for cementation of fixed crowns and bridges and also for some                       restorations. Combines the benefits of composite materials with those of glassionomers.  We                       continue to look to these materials for future restorative materials in dentistry.
Composite-  The material traditionally used for bonded restorations.  Made from an admixture of various                  glass particles in a polymerized gel-like matrix.  This material is generally applied to etched                   enamel  and primed dentin.  It is then polymerized with a curing light, a visible blue light which                   activates a catalyst in the composite and causes it to harden almost instantly.  Today's composite                   bonding materials are extremely esthetic because of the way the glass particles reflect and refract                   light similarly to natural enamel.

          Computerized X Rays-  see Digital X-Rays.

          Core-  see Foundation.

          Cracked Tooth Syndrome-  When a tooth has a partial or complete vertical fracture (up the root), a                          sometimes confusing collection of symptoms may develop.  Usually characterized by pain to biting                          pressure or to the release of biting pressure, patients are often unable to detect which is the                          problematic tooth, sometimes describing pain on the entire side of the face when chewing.  Cold                          sensitivity often accompanies these symptoms.  Cracked teeth are predictably identified by good                          diagnostic techniques, and are treated by crowning the offending teeth to protect them and stop the                          pain-producing flexure around the crack.  Anywhere from fifteen to forty percent of cracked teeth                          will eventually require root canal therapy.  A small percentage of profound cracks are hopeless.

          Craniofacial Team-  A multidisciplinary team of health care professionals who perform a joint evaluation and                          build a care plan for patients with craniofacial anomalies, such as cleft lip or palate.   The                           Craniofacial Team at Miami Children's Hospital, for example, consists of plastic surgeons,                           orthodontists, reconstructive dentists, geneticists, otorhinolaryngologists(ENT's), pediatricians,                           pediatric anesthesiologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, audiologists, speach pathologists, feeding and                           swallowing therapists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners, and parent advocates who                           meet twice monthly to assist these worthy patients.  All of the physicians and dentists donate their                           time to the Center.

          Crepitation-  Grinding or gravelly sounds from within the jaw joint resulting from direct contact of bone                          against bone with no disc, or cushion, in between.  May be with or without  associated pain.

          Crown-  A covering placed on a tooth to replace missing structure and reinforce or strengthen it.  The most                          common crowns made today are from a cast metal (preferably a gold alloy) with esthetic porcelain                          baked to the outside.  In non esthetic areas, or for patients with exremely strong masticatory                          musculature, gold crowns are still used and are still the most durable restorations known.  Today,                           we also have all-porcelain crowns, with incredible esthetics (see Procera).  Crowns are indicated for                          broken or cracked teeth, and any tooth in which the previous filling encompassed more than                           one-half  of the width of the tooth.  Crowns are also still used to solve some cosmetic problems when                           bonding or veneers would not be adequate.  Crowns generally require two visits, and fine crafted                           provisional crowns are placed for the interim.

          Curettage-  The act of removing infected tissue from a wound; used commonly in dentistry to refer to the                          removal of grossly inflammed gum tissue caused be severe periodontal disease.  Local anesthesia is                          used for immediate comfort; generally there is no pain at all afterward.

          Cyst-  A type of benign tumor that can form around an impacted or diseased tooth.   It is filled with fluid, and                          can hollow out the bone in a patient's jaw to a significant extent.  Rarely do cysts spontaneously                          resorb in response to any treatment; in general they are removed by careful curettage and the                          missing bone usually regenerates.

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- D -

Debridement-  The act of cleansing an infected area.  In dentistry most often used to denote a preliminary                  cleaning designed to remove gross accumulations of tartar so that subsequent cleanings or root                  planings will be more comfortable and effective.  Also used to denote a more intensive cleaning for                  a patient who has not recieved regular care.

          Deep Cleaning or Deep Scaling-  see Root Planing.

          Dentin-  The part of the tooth directly underneath the enamel.  It is softer, contains more water, and has                           microscopic nerve endings.  Dentin is much more susceptible to decay, abrasion from toothbrushing                           and bruxism, and is responsible for many sensitivity reactions when it is exposed in the mouth.

          Deprogrammer-  A type of bite appliance for patients with muscle pain, or myositis.  It allows only the front                          teeth to touch, eliminates clenching and grinding for most patients, and relaxes muscles.   It IS NOT                          for all day use; it is usually prescribed for nighttime therapy.  Many studies have shown that the                          majority of dangerous clenching, grinding, and bruxism occurs at night in the deepest sleep stages,                          even in people who snore with their teeth apart in lighter sleep stages.  Studies have also shown that                          when asleep, with inhibitory muscle reflexes decreased, people can and clench with four to five                           times the muscle force that they could consciously develop.  Hence myositis can develop in                           overworked muscles, with the net effect of a "charley horse" in your jaw muscles.  The                           deprogrammer helps to relieve these muscular symptoms.

          Diabetes and Dentistry-  Diabetes is a disorder in which sugars from your diet are not transported into your                          cells where they are needed.  Over time, the disease causes defects in the smaller blood vessels.                          Classic diabetic problems are blindness, loss of circulation in extremities, and proclivity toward                          angina and heart disease.  In dentistry we see delayed wound healing, periodontal (gum and bone)                          disease that is less responsive to aggressive therapy, and greater chance of infection after dental                          procedures.   Most diabetics require greater attention to their home care and more frequent visits                           to the hygienist.  Dental implant surgery has a lower success rate in diabetics, which must be                          understood during the treatment planning phase.

          Dicor-  A decade old procedure for all porcelain crowns.   The strength and beauty of these crowns has now                          been far surpassed by Procera crowns, in our opinion.

          Digital X Rays-  A computer technology whereby radiographs are seen immediately after exposure on the                          computer screen.  No developing or waiting is necessary.  They can be magnified, colorized, and                           have their density manipulated for greater information.  Most significantly, the radiation exposure                          necessary is about ten percent that of conventional dental radiographs, which are already quite low.

          Displaced Disc-  A jaw joint problem whereby the disc (meniscus), or cushion between the jaw pivot and the                          base of the skull, is pushed or pulled out of alignment.  The displacement can include the entire disc                          or one edge.  This condition is what causes the jaw to click or pop upon opening.  It may be                           reversible or irreversible.  One of the great controversies in dentistry, most people with this                           condition are free of symptoms; a few patients become victims of crippling pain and dysfunction.                            Women are more susceptible to painful symptoms than men, especially in the age range of 16 to 40.

          Down Syndrome-  Trisomy 21 is a genetic disorder that was traditionally known as Mongolism.  These                          people have characteristic looks with slanted eyes, short fat fingers, and short stature.  Some degree                          of mental retardation is present.  The dental implications of Down Syndrome are a proclivity toward                          periodontal (gum and bone) disease that usually requires frequent attention as patients enter their                          twenties, missing and smaller teeth, and enlarged tongues that make cleaning more difficult.   These                          people are generally excellent and lovable patients.

          Doppler Auscultation-  The use of a Doppler Stethoscope, greatly amplified, allows the diagnosis and                          interpretation of the many noises and vibrations made by diseased jaw joints.  Can be used to help                          evaluate the extent of displaced discs.

          Dry Mouth-  see Xerostomia.

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- E -

Eagle's Syndrome-  A facial pain syndrome typified by pain upon swallowing and rapid turning of the neck.                      Caused by elongation of a pair of bones called the styloid processes which start at the base of                       the skull and point down toward the Adam's apple.  Often the pain passes with no treatment; is                       of extreme discomfort to patients who are getting radiation therapy to the neck.
EMG-  Electromyography measures the amount of contractile or spastic activity in a muscle.  Is of use in the                      diagnosis and treatment of many jaw joint and facial pain problems.
Enamel-  The hard crystalline material that covers the outside of the tooth.  The hardest substance in the                      human body.
Endodontic Treatment-  Usually known as root canal therapy, this treatment refers to the removal of                      diseased or dying nerve tissue from the inside of the tooth.  It does NOT mean removing a root                      from the tooth, and does not involve surgery.  A rubber dam must be used to prevent saliva from                      entering the tooth.  The steps of the procedure are acess (opening into the nerve chamber),                      debridement (removing the diseased tissue), working distance (measuring the exact length of the                      roots), cleaning and shaping (preparing the tooth for filling), and obturation (filling the root with                      an inert filling material called gutta percha).  After a root canal most teeth require a foundation                      filling for support and a crown for strength.  Root canals are about 95% successful, and are no                      longer the nightmare that they were in our parents' generation.  Most root canals can be                      completed in one visit unless started in an emergency, and are amazingly comfortable.

          Etch-  The act of opening microporosities in the enamel or porcelain to facilitate bonding.  The technique                              which literally allows white fillings to "stick".

          Ernest Syndrome-  A facial pain syndrome typified by spontaneous pain on the side of the face and                          sometimes the neck.  The cause is a tendinitis of the stylomandibular ligament which attaches to the                          angle (corner) of the jaw.  Ernest Syndrome is treated with injections of steroid and local anesthesia,                          as are many types of tendinitis.  It is an occasional result of whiplash injuries.

          Equilibration-  The science of interpreting and adjusting the bite for harmony of function and relaxed                              musculature.   A very exacting procedure, is often done on models first to avoid surprises in the                              individual bite.  May or may not eliminate jaw joint pain and symptoms, but predictably slows or                              stops the progress of pathology when indicated.  May need to be periodically redone or touched                               up to account for tooth wear and drifting.

          Expert Testimony-  Respected professionals are called upon to testify in legal proceedings as to deviations                              from standard practice and harm and damages done to patients from neglect or malpractice.                              Expert witnesses also interpret forensic evidence.  Dr. Souviron is a much sought after expert                              witness in cases involving highly technical aspects of dental treatment and bite mark evidence.

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- F -

Fever Blister-  see Cold Sore.
Fistula-   A drainage spot in the gums.  Referred to as a "gum boil" in the past, is a sign that infectious pus is                      draining into the mouth.  Very often people have fistulae with no symptoms at all; however, the                      cause of this drainage must be addressed.  We have recently reviewed a case in which pus from a                      dental abcess entered the lungs and caused a pulmonary abcess which killed the patient.

          Fluoride-   A halide element (small molecule) found commonly in water and foods.  Low concentrations have                              been found to greatly lower the amount of cavities in our society.  Fluoride's most beneficial effect                              is to remineralize (reharden) areas that have just been softened by decay.  A new toothpaste,                              Enamelon, has some extra ingredients that make this remineralization process even greater.  Dr.                              Groh did some research with this formulation at NIH over 15 years ago and found it to be very                              usefull.   Fluoride is also a poison to many oral bacteria and thus prevents cavities and periodontal                              disease.   Like any medicine, it must be used carefully.  Heavier concentrations have been found                               to create mottling or staining of tooth enamel.  Most communities today add fluoride to the                              drinking  water supply and carefully monitor its concentration for safe health improvements.  Very                              few  bottled waters contain fluoride.  Additionally, fluoride is removed by many water softeners                               and reverse osmosis units.  Most municipalities offer inexpensive analysis to check the levels of                              fluoride in your drinking water to test for safe but effective cavity protection.   Insufficient levels                              can be supplemented by dentists or pediatricians with prescription fluoride drops.   Fluoride is also                              found in most toothpastes and in the mouthrinses Fluorigard and Act.  Fluoride does occur                               naturally   in some foods, most notably in tea leaves.  In hot tea, most of the fluoride boils off;                              "sun tea" iced tea is a good natural source of dietary fluoride.

          Forensic Dentistry-   The area of dentistry that assists legal and law enforcement proceedings.  Forensic                              dentistry spans from identifying deceased persons, to identifying dental malpractice, to identifying                              perpetrators from bitemark evidence, to providing expert testimony in court cases.  This is a                               dental version of "Quincy".

          Foundation-   A filling done before a crown or bridge preparation.  It is especially designed to be retentive in                              the tooth and to provide strength underneath the crown or bridge.  A crown or bridge should never                              be placed over an old or unknown filling, as in our experience we almost always find some decay                              under such fillings.

          Full Mouth Series-   A series of dental x-rays angled to show the roots of all teeth, as well as the surrounding                              bone and other structures.  This is the only way to examine the health of the tooth roots and to                              check for some types of tumors and lesions.  It usually consists of about 16 to 18 small films, and                              for the radiation conscious, the dosage is about the same received from three hours in the summer                              sun.   Depending on the patient's previous history, full mouth radiographs are recommended about                              every three to five years.  Often we alternate these with a panorex radiograph, which gives similar                              information but shows more structures.

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- G -

General Anesthesia-   Going to sleep, or being"out", for treatment.  True general anesthesia is a deep state,                      and includes the loss of all reflexes and sometimes requires respiratory assistance.   This state is                      rarely necessary for general dental procedures, as what even the most fearful patients                      want is no pain, no consciousness of the procedures, and no memory of the experience.                      These needs can be satisfied with IV Sedation, described below.  General anesthesia is available                      in our practice for those that require or demand it.
Gingivoplasty-   The reshaping of gum contours, often for esthetic purposes.  Generally very easy and                      non-painful, is often a good solution for a "gummy smile".  Performed with a device very similar                      to a laser in function; very little inconvenience or recovery.
Gingivectomy-   The removal of excess or extra gum tissue to improve cleansibility and health.  Often                      necessary to treat gum overgrowth caused by a variety of medications, including Dilantin.                      Chronic mouthbreathing can also cause gum hypertrophy.
Gingivitis-   The first stage of periodontal disease, characterized by inflammation of the gum tissue without                      any bone loss.  The clinical signs are swelling and bleeding upon stimulation.    Rarely are these                      signs noticed as a problem by patients.  Many people think it is normal for gums to bleed when                      brushing, which is not true.  Gingivitis is the result of chronic infection caused by plaque bacteria.                      Gingivitis is the first stage of your body's literally trying to reject your teeth, and requires                      immediate treatment if it is not to progress into more destructive forms of gum disease.    A                       person can have gingivitis and periodontitis in different parts of the mouth at the same time.                        See Periodontitis.
Glass Ionomer-  A particularly strong filled cement.  Quite impervious to water and oral fluids.   Unlike most                      other cements, has true chemical adhesion to teeth and dental restorations.  Releases fluoride to                      protect teeth.  Used to cement crowns and bridges; also for fillings in non-stress bearing areas.
Granuloma-   A zone of infected tissue that has yet to organize into an abcess.  The most common cause of                      pain necessitating root canal therapy.
Gum Boil-  see Fistula.
Gum Disease-  see Periodontitis.

          Gum Sculpturing-  see Gingivoplasty.

          Gutta Percha-  A rubber-like material used to fill root canals, along with a sealer.  Bio-inert and                              thermoplastic, it is either squeezed or injected into the prepared canal space. 

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- H -

Hand Over Mouth-  Technique used to calm and quiet a truly hysterical child.  The doctors hand is gently and                  carefully placed over the child's mouth and the child is repeatedly told that the hand will be removed                  as soon as the child is quiet.  The technique is almost always successful with children over the age                   of  2.   The rationale is that a noisy child creates a chain of distraction from his own mouth to his                   own ear, through which the doctor cannot communicate.  When the noise is removed from the                    child's self-induced hysteria, the child hears that he will regain control of his situation if he                    cooperates with quiet.   Once communication is established, then other behavior management                    techniques can be used to continue treatment.  Of course, this technique is used with the prior                    approval of the parents.
Handpiece-  The dentist's "drill", usually powered by compressed air and spins up to 500,000 rpm.  Used to                  prepare cavities for fillings, adjust bites, and a myriad of other uses.
Hare Lip-  A politically incorrect and historical term for a cleft lip.
Hemisection-  A surgical procedure whereby the roots of a tooth are separated and treated as individual                    teeth.   Used when maintaining the tooth intact is impossible because of gum disease.
Hospital Dentistry-  The practice of dentistry in a hospital setting, usually referring to utilizing the operating                    room and the diagnosis and treatment of patients with medical, behavioral, or emotional                     compromises.
Hot Tooth-  Describes a tooth with extreme inflammation of the nerve, and often hard to numb with the usual                  techniques.   We are especially proud of the advanced anesthesia techniques in our arsenal to                  comfortably treat these teeth.
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- I -

Impaction-   A tooth that is "stuck", or can grow no further into the mouth.  Usually referrs to wisdom teeth,                      but any tooth can be impacted under unusual circumstances.  Extra, or supernumery teeth, are                      often impacted.  Impacted wisdom teeth have an incidence of cyst or tumor formation of around                      one to five percent.  Partially impacted wisdom teeth (half in-half out) have a very high rate of                      periodontal (gum) infections.  Additionally, pressure from impacted teeth can often cause damage                      to nearby teeth.
Implants-   Artificial tooth roots that are placed into and fuse with the bone of the jaw.  They can be used to                      replace teeth or to support and retain dentures.  The placement is generally so simple as to be                      inconsequential.   In areas where bone is lacking to support these implants, we now have                       ingenious and effective techniques to add bone.  Teeth can be placed on the implants usually after                       four months; however, some of the newer systems that we have researched may be restored in as                      quickly as eight weeks.  See our two pages on implants.
Impression-   A mold, or negative, or intaglio of a tooth or teeth.  Impressions are used to make crowns,                      bridges, veneers, dentures, some fillings, and study models.  A variety of different materials are                      used, depending on the properties desired.  The accuracy of these impressions are of penultimate                      importance and our patients are often impressed at the extreme care we take to assure this                      accuracy.

          Incision and Drainage (I and D)-  A technique used to allow for the drainage of significant infections.  A                              technique thankfully infrequently necessary so long as people don't neglect the early warning                              signs of dental problems, such as broken fillings and lingering sensitivities.

          Inlay-   A laboratory made internal filling, cemented or bonded into a tooth.  Can be made of porcelain.  Gold                              inlays are rarely used any more, although they were at one time the treatment of choice in                              dentistry, because they tended to put cracks in teeth.  We generally find onlays a better choice for                              high quality, tooth-conservative dentistry.  Porcelain inlays seem to have a good track record to                              date; Dr. Groh has two of them in his teeth.

          Intraoral Camera-  A miniature video camera that looks like a wand, used to diagnose and demonstrate                              pathology in places difficult to see in the mouth.  A great way to better understand your own dental                              condition.

          IV Sedation-   An anesthetic technique sometimes referred to as "twilight sleep", somewhat lighter than                              general anesthesia.  Still provides memory loss and pain control, but the patient retains more                              physiologic function.  This is the anesthesia modality of choice for most apprehensive patients, as                              they get the comfort and peace of mind they want wwith the fewest potential side effects.


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- J -

Jacket- an older term for a crown made of all porcelain.

          Jaw Tracking-  Computerized recording and analysis of jaw movement.  Used to detect and study TMJ                          problems, and to check the proper design of dental reconstructions.

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- K -

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- L -

Laser-  The use of lasers for gum surgery is a viable treatment modality for some specific gum problems.                    It's use on teeth themselves is still being studied, and despite the hype from the manufacturers and                  the media, is not a proven technology.  Dental Leaders are carefully following the progress of this                  treatment modality and plan to incorporate it when we would have it used on ourselves!    Lasers can                  also be used for bleaching teeth, but again the long term effects are not known.
Laughing Gas-  see Nitrous Oxide.

          Local Anesthesia-  Medications commonly referred to as "novocaine", although that anesthetic has not been                              in regular use for more than twenty years.  The drugs commonly used to make teeth numb are now                              lidocaine, mepivocaine, bupivocaine, etidocaine, and prilocaine.  Each has different strengths and                              weaknesses; we use each according to different indications.  The medications above also are                               mixed   with other medications, including adrenalin (epinephrine).  If you have been sensitive to                               adrenalin   in the past, please inform your dentist.  It doesn't mean that you are allergic or can't                               have local anesthetic; a non-epinephrine formula can be used successfully.   True allergy to local                               anesthetic is very rare.

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- M -

          Malocclusion-  Bad or misaligned bite.

          Mandible-  The lower jaw bone.

          Margin-  The line where a restoration seals against tooth structure.  In crowns, this is usually near or below                              the gumline.   Margins need to be sealed with extreme accuracy; if not, gum disease and recurrent                              cavities will result.

          Maxilla-  The bone of the upper jaw.

          Medicated Filling-  A provisional or temporary filling which incorporates a palliative or soothing medication to                              calm an inflamed tooth nerve.

Membrane Graft-  A special technique for bone grafting which greatly increases the success rate.  There are                      two types of membranes used, one which needs to be removed and another which slowly disolves                      by itself.  The membranes allow bone grafts to consolidate without interference from certain                       types of cells.

          Mesiodens-  An extra tooth lodged in between the front teeth.  Surprisingly common, this occurs in one out of                              three hundred children, and more commonly in Orientals.  Diagnosing mesiodentata is a                               meticulous   x-ray procedure;  removing them is generally straight forward with few side effects.

          Metal Try In-  An appointment in which the metal substructure of a fixed bridge, or the metal framework of a                              removeable partial denture is tried in and fitted.

          MRI-  Magnetic Resonance Imaging, this is a radiographic technique that shows soft tissues often better                              than hard tissues.  The images show water density instead of bone density.  Its major dental use is                              to evaluate the condition and position of the TMJ disc.

          Myositis-  Muscle inflammation caused by overuse and oxygen debt.  The muscle tissue can literally fill with                              metabolic acids, which can lead to chronic inflammation.  May or may not be accompanied by                              muscle spasms.

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Night Guard- A device similar to a retainer which separates the teeth and oftens relaxes the muscles which                      position the jaw.  A variety of configurations are used.  A nightguard is indicated for people who                      overwork their jaws at night and possibly risk damage to their teeth, jaw joints, and/or muscles.                      People who wake up withsore muscles, facial weakness, or a jaw that is "locked" are good                      candidates for this device.  Some types may also be used to diagnose jaw posture problems.
Nitrous Oxide-  Also known as "laughing gas" or "sweet air", was the first general anesthetic discovered;                      significantly it was discovered by a dentist, Horace Wells.  It is a poor general anesthetic by any                      standards, but carefully administered doses are excellent at lowering patient's anxieties.  It also                      does increase pain tolerance to a measurable degree.  It is especially useful in the management of                      fearful children, for whom it provides a pleasant, fantasy-like state.  It is a very safe drug, with no                      reported allergies, and very few side effects when administered properly.  Patients should note                      that careless dentists often administer nitrous oxide in a "cookbook" fashion, and provide safe                      but uncomfortably high doses of the drug.  Many adults require low doses to relieve anxieties and                      don't care for the higher amounts.  It is not a "truth serum" and people do not misbehave under                      its effect.

          Novocaine-  see Local Anesthesia

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Occlusion-  The science of the bite.  Included are the relationship of chewing movoments to the jaw joints, and                      how the teeth interdigitate specifically to allow for chewing function and sometimes cause painful                      or dangerous dysfunction.

          Occlusal Analysis and Facebow Transfer-  Specific records that are made to take a patient's particular bite                              and jaw movement and accurately transfer it to a bite machine called an articulator.   These records                              can be essential in reconstructive dentistry, for implant dentistry, for large bridges, for denture                              work, and to diagnose and study jaw dysfunction and"TMJ".

Odontology- A classical term for dentistry, still used in many Latin and some European countries.
OMD-  Occluso-Muscular Disorder- probably 70 to 80 percent of people who have jaw pain, or "TMJ", are                      better classified under this heading.  OMD means a diagnosis of muscle pain caused by a                      malocclusion, or bad bite.  Having your mouth close with your jaw joints out of alignment requires                      constant posturing of the jaw muscles, and those muscles can become chronically spastic, like an                      eternal "charley horse".  Treatment for this problem is directed at relaxing the muscles, and then                      correcting the occlusion if necessary.      
Onlay-  A tooth restoration that covers the entire biting surface.  Can be gold or porcelain.   Serves to protect                      the tooth from breakage should the cavity or old filling be too large.  Classic dental excellence.
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          Palliative Treatment


          Papoose Board

Partial Denture
Periodontal Disease

          Pickup Impression

Pin Retention

          Porcelain Fillings

          Porcelain Inlays and Onlays

          Porcelain Veneers

          Post and Core
          Posterior Composites
          Pregnancy and Dentistry
Premedication-  Medicine taken before a dental appointment either to prevent infection in susceptible                  patients, or to attenuate the "dental experience" for anxious patients.
Primary Herpetic Gingivostomatitis-  A child's first contact with the Herpes Simplex virus, usually before the                  age of two.  98% of the population has this virus.  First contact is accompanied by an intense                  fever, with a few blisters or sores in the mouth.  Occasionally the child's mouth is so painful that not                  even liquids will be accepted, and the child must be hospitalized to prevent dehydration.
Primer-  A dentin treatment which allows it to bond to composite materials similarly to enamel.
Procera Crowns-  The newest type of all porcelain crown.  Less grinding of the tooth is necessary.   The                      model of the preparation is optically scanned and modemed to Sweden, where the coping, or part                      that actually fits against the tooth is made.  The coping is air-expressed back to our dental                      laboratory,   where the esthetic porcelain and function are engineered to our specification.  The fit                      on these crowns is of perfectionist quality, and the esthetics are unmatchable.

          Prophy-  see Prophylaxis.

          Prophylaxis-  A routine cleaning for healthy teeth and gums.  Does not involve any type of more intensive                              gum therapy or deeper cleaning.

          Pulp-  The technical name for the "nerve" inside the tooth; actually contains a nerve, an artery, a vein, a                              lymphatic drainage, and some primordial cells. 

          Pulp Cap-  Covering an exposed or nearly exposed nerve with a palliative material prior to filling the                                  tooth.         

          Pulp Test  (See Vitality Test)




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Radiographs-  Dental "x-rays" that allow for careful diagnosis of the tooth roots, the pulp, the bone                          surrounding the teeth, and to diagnose cavities in areas that can't be seen inside the mouth with                          direct vision.  The dosage of radiation is quite small compared to other types of radiographs.  It                          would take over five hundred dental radiographs to equal the exposure recieved in one chest                          x-ray.   A full mouth series of radiographs is about the same exposure recieved from four hours                          of sunshine.  A panoramic radiograph is about the same exposure as only three of the small                          dental radiographs.  Finally, the newer digital radiographs use a radiation exposure of about                          10% that of conventional dental radiographs!


Reconstructive Dentistry

          Rehabilitative Dentistry

          Reline, Hard

          Reline, Soft

Root Amputation
Root Canal

          Root Planing

          Root Tip

          Rubber Dam


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          SBE-  Subacute Bacterial Endocarditis is an infection of the valve and muscle tissue inside the heart.                       Patients with certain conditions are prone to this type of infection and must premedicate with                        prescribed antibiotics prior to most dental treatments.

Sealants-  A protective coating painted into the grooves on the biting surface of back teeth susceptible to              decay.  The ADA recommends sealants for all back teeth as soon as they grow into the mouth.              Prevents cavities for adults too.  Lasts for an average of seven years.  Very easily placed with no              discomfort.
Sedation-  See IV Sedation
Sensitivity-  Discomfort in a tooth caused by touch, sweet, hot, cold, biting pressure, or releasing pressure.                    Causes differ according to the symptoms.  Sometimes sensitivity passes instantly; other times the                    discomfort lingers for minutes or hours after the stimulation.  When you have this, try to be able to                    characterize the symptoms as much as possible and be able to identify the offending tooth.
Shingles-  see Zoster.
Show Tell Do-  A behavior management technique in which we show the children what we will do, tell them                      what they will hear and feel, and then do the procedure.  Builds confidence and trust with the                      child.
Sinuses-  Membrane lined, air filled cavities in our skulls above our upper teeth, between our eyes, and                       between our eyebrows.  Sinus infections are a common source of facial pain and headaches.   Can                       be confused with pain from upper back teeth.  You can have a sisnus infection and still be able to                       breathe through your nose.
Sinusitis-    Infection in the sinus cavities, of which we have four in our skulls.  The largest of the sinuses is                      the maxillary sinus, located just above the roots of the upper molars.  A pressure cousing infection                      in this area can be mistaken for tooth pain.  Maxillary sinusitis is sometimes characterised by                      pain in the jaw or face that changes when you lean over, lay down, or stand up.  It can literally                      cause pain with every footstep.
Sinus Lift-   A special type of bone graft to augment the quantity and quality of bone available for upper                      dental implants.  Sinus lift surgery often allows us to place implants in areas that were thought to                      be impossible not long ago.  Depending on the situation, the sinus lift may have to be done as a                      separate procedure to the implant placement, and may require six months or more of healing.                      Smoking greatly lowers the success rate of this procedure.
Sjogren's Syndrome-  An autoimmune disease characterized by dryness of the mouth, eyes, and other mucous                      membranes.  The dry mouth can be very uncomfortable and allow serious problems with cavities                      that progress quickly.
Stainless Steel Crowns-  Silver colored crowns often used to restore heavily damaged baby molars.  A very                       sturdy restoration, and the teeth are shed normally in most cases.  Also used as interim                       restorations for adult molars when a permanent crown isn't feasible at the time.
Study Models-  Plaster models of teeth used for explanations, treatment planning, mock treatments and                      waxups.

          Surgical Extraction-  Extraction of a tooth whereby an incision and sutures are necessary, and/or the tooth is                               more safely and comfortably removed in pieces.

          Sweet Air-  see Nitrous Oxide.

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Tartar-  see Calculus.
Third Molar
Three Quarter Crown

          Trenchmouth- see ANUG.

          Twilight Sleep-  see IV Sedation.


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Ultrasonic Scaler
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Vitality Testing

          Voice Control

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Wax Try In

          Wear Facet-  Flat areas on teeth or restorations caused by grinding or bruxism.

          Whitening-  Causing the teeth to appear brighter by applying certain medicaments.  Can be done at home.                           Not a permanent treatment, it lasts for six to twelve months, and is easily maintained or retreated.


          Wisdom Tooth-  see Third Molar.

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Xerostomia-  Dry mouth, which can be caused by disease, aging, radiation therapy, and many medications.

          X Rays-  see Radiographs.

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          Zoster-   A viral infection secondary to the chicken pox virus, or Varicella.  Shingles, as a Zoster outbreak is                          called, is characterized by a painful outbreak in a well demarkated area of the body, such as one side                          of the palate.

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