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Dentistry is very similar to any other field. It has its own terms, and if you are not familiar with them, you may feel as if you are trying to learn a different language! If you would like to understand more about dentistry and some of the terms we use, take a moment to look through our glossary of dental terms in Nashville, Illinois. We want to make sure that you understand your treatment when you visit Dental Center of Nashville, and we hope this glossary will help. If you have questions about your treatment or any aspect of your oral health, give us a call today at 618-327-4422 and talk to our dentist, Dr. Jason Gladson , or one of our helpful team members.


Abscess – An oral infection resulting from tooth decay, damage or gum disease.

Amalgam – A material used for dental fillings that is composed of metals, including silver, mercury, tin, copper and other trace metals.

Anesthetic – A drug that can be used by the dentist for pain management. It may be used to numb a certain area of the mouth, but a general anesthetic may be used to induce unconsciousness in patient for certain procedures.

Anterior – A term referring to the front teeth.

Apex – The tip of a tooth’s root.

Aspirator – A tool that the dentist may use during your appointment to remove excess saliva from your mouth.


Bonding – The use of a composite resin or plastic to correct minor tooth problems such as staining or chips.

Bridge – Artificial teeth that are attached to crowns and affixed to existing teeth.

Bruxism – A condition in which teeth can become damaged by clenching or grinding, often done subconsciously or during sleep.


Calculus – Also known as tartar, it is a hardened plaque.

Canines – Also known as eye teeth. They are slightly longer than other teeth and are slightly pointed. They are found next to the incisors.

Caries – Cavities.

Cavity – A hole in the enamel of the tooth created by tooth decay.

Central – Refers to the two upper and lower teeth at the center of your smile.

Crown – Used to protect teeth that have been damaged by trauma or decay. A crown is made of porcelain or metal and can also be used to hold a dental bridge in place.

Cuspid – Another name for canine teeth.


Decalcification – A loss of calcium in bones or teeth.

Dental Implants – A method of tooth replacement in which a crown is set on titanium implant that is placed directly into a patient’s jawbone.

Dentures – Also known as false teeth. They are removable and can replace a few teeth or an entire dental arch.


Enamel – The hardest substance in the human body. It is the white portion of the tooth that protects the tooth that is above the gum line.

Endodontist – A dentist who specializes in the living tissue in interior of the tooth, such as the pulp and the root.

Extraction – The process of removing a tooth due to damage or disease or to create room in the mouth for oral health or orthodontic purposes.


Filling – A method of tooth restoration commonly used to repair cavities or small amounts of damage. Fillings can be made of metal amalgam, gold or a composite resin.

Fluoride – A naturally-occurring mineral that has been found to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay.


Gingivitis – An early form of gum disease. Its symptoms include swollen or tender gums or bleeding or receding gums.

Gums – Oral tissue that holds the teeth in place and protects the body from bacteria.


Impacted Tooth – A tooth that cannot erupt, often because of its position. The condition is often related to wisdom teeth and may require an extraction.

Incisor – The teeth in the front of the mouth designed for biting.

Inlays – A dental restoration that is placed in the grooves of the tooth. It is used to repair dental damage too great for a filling but not serious enough to for a crown.


Lateral – Incisors located next to the two front teeth in the upper and lower dental arch.


Night Guard – A custom-designed mouthpiece worn during sleep to prevent damage from bruxism or to reduce the effects of TMJ.


Pedodontist – A dentist who specializes in treating children.

Periodontist – A dentist specializing in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gum disease.

Plaque – A film that builds up on teeth. It contains bacteria that can contribute to cavities and can also lead to gum disease.

Posterior Teeth – Teeth located at the back of the mouth. Often refers to molars.

Primary Teeth – The 20 teeth that are present at birth and continue to erupt until age 6 or 7. Also known as baby teeth.

Prosthodontist – A dentist that specializes in restoring damaged teeth or replacing missing teeth.


Root – The part of your tooth located below the gum line. It connects your tooth to the jaw.

Root Canal – A process in which the diseased pulp and damaged root of a tooth is removed.


Sealant – A thin layer of plastic applied to a person’s molars and premolars to prevent cavities.

Secondary Teeth – The second and final set of teeth to come in. Also known as the permanent or adult teeth.

Sleep Apnea – A condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted while they sleep.


TMJ Syndrome – Also known as a temporomandibular joint disorder. It affects the joint connecting the lower jaw to the head. Symptoms include headaches and jaw, trouble moving the jaw. It can be brought on by stress, bruxism or other issues.

Tooth Whitening – A cosmetic procedure done in a dental office or at home. It involves the use of a gel or other treatment to make teeth whiter.


Veneer – A thin shell made of porcelain or a composite resin that is placed over the front of a tooth. It can conceal chips or stains or correct size or spacing issues.