Dental Terminology Cerritos CA

Dental Glossary

Dental Terminology Cerritos, CA

Dental terminology can seem complicated, but we’re here to help! Dentist of Cerritos prioritizes patient education, and so we have compiled a list of common terms in alphabetical order for your convenience. As always, you can also reach out to our friendly California dentist office if you have any questions or concerns!

Dentist of Cerritos Dental Glossary


Abrasion -

An abrasion refers to mouth tissue that is scraped away, either from an accident or dental apparatus.

Abscess -

An abscess occurs when an area is injured or irritated. Bacteria infiltrate it and cause an infection. Abscesses are often accompanied by swelling, pus, and pain. In its first line of defense, the body builds a barrier around this area, which is referred to as the abscess.

Abutment -

An abutment references the teeth that are used to provide a bridge with the support it needs.

Air Abrasion -

Air abrasion is a modern treatment where abrasive air is used to gently remove mild tooth decay and cavities.

Amalgam Filling -

An amalgam filling is a common type of dental filling. It is composed of copper, mercury, tin, and silver. Since it is relatively affordable and reliable, dentists have used them for more than 150 years.

Anterior Teeth -

Anterior teeth refer to the six front teeth of the mouth (also referred to as cuspids and incisors).

Apicoectomy -

Apicoectomy is used when a root canal does not work. This is a surgical procedure performed with the intent of sealing off the root tip of a tooth.


Baby Teeth -

Baby teeth are sometimes called deciduous or primary teeth. These are the initial teeth a child is born with.

Bicuspids -

Bicuspids are the teeth that are in front of your molars but after the cuspids. They are called bicuspids because they have two cusps. Sometimes they are also referred to as premolars.

Bite -

A bite is otherwise called an occlusion and is where the teeth meet.

Bitewings -

Bitewings refer to an x-ray used to identify the formation of cavities in the back teeth.

Bonding -

Bonding is a dental method that utilizes resin materials to restore your teeth.

Bridges -

Bridges refers to a tooth replacement option that is held in place by other teeth or implants and closes the gap between one or several missing teeth.

Bruxism -

Bruxism refers to clenching and grinding. Individuals often do this at nighttime, especially if they are stressed or anxious.


Calculus -

Calculus refers to tartar, which is created when plaque solidifies.

Canines -

A canine is also called a cuspid. It is helpful in biting and is the third tooth from the middle of your mouth.

Caries -

Caries refers to an early stage of decay that can turn into cavities if not addressed.

Cavities -

Cavities are a more advanced form of tooth decay and often require fillings.

Closed Bite -

A closed bite is also sometimes called a deep bite and is when the upper teeth cover the lower teeth.

Composite Filling -

Composite fillings are often used to combat cavities. They are composed of a mixture containing plastic particles and fine glass.

Cosmetic Dentistry -

Cosmetic dentistry refers to the dental techniques employed to enhance an individual’s smile, such as porcelain veneers.

Crowns -

A crown is a cap that covers a tooth, helping to restore its functionality and appearance.


Decalcification -

Teeth can become depleted in calcium. This may make them weaker or more prone to dental decay.

Dental Implant -

A dental implant takes the place of the missing tooth’s root, restoring its functionality. A titanium post is carefully positioned in the jawbone, providing the framework for the abutment and crown.

Dentin -

Dentin resides within the tooth and is a porous layer. Its purpose is to encompass and shield the tooth’s nerve.

Dentures -

Dentures can be partial or full depending on whether they replace one or both arches. They can also be removable or fixed. They take the place of missing teeth and allow an individual to eat, chew, and speak naturally.


Edentulous -

An individual may be partially or fully edentulous, meaning they are missing one or both arches of teeth.

Enamel -

This is the visible portion of the tooth that shields the dentin underneath it.


Gingivitis -

Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease characterized by sore, swollen, or bleeding gums.


Halitosis -

Halitosis is a scientific term that refers to bad breath.


Impacted Tooth -

An impacted tooth is a tooth that is having trouble emerging through the gums, such as a wisdom tooth.

Incisors -

Incisors refer to the four upper and lower teeth at the front of the mouth. They are especially helpful with eating and biting.


Malocclusion -

A malocclusion refers to a misalignment in which the upper and lower teeth do not evenly meet.

Mandible -

The term mandible references the lower jaw.

Molars -

Molars are the teeth located at the back that have a few cusps at the top. They are best used to chew food thoroughly.


Occlusal -

The occlusal is the surface of the teeth located at the back of the mouth. It is also helpful in chewing.

Occlusion -

An occlusion is when the upper and lower teeth meet, such as in clenching or chewing.

Orthodontics -

Orthodontics is a specialized field in dentistry that corrects misalignments of the mouth, teeth, and jaw.

Overbite -

An overbite is what happens when the upper teeth surpass the lower ones. In layman’s terms, they are often referred to as “buck teeth.”


Palate -

The palate refers to the roof of the mouth that is made of soft and hard tissue.

Periodontitis -

Periodontitis is the advanced form of gingivitis and is characterized by pain, swelling, and bleeding gums. Teeth can also become loose during this time or fall out due to receding gums and bone loss.


Root Canal -

A root canal procedure attempts to save a damaged or decayed tooth. After the decay is removed, the empty place where the tooth’s root was is cleaned and the tooth is sealed.


Scaling -

Scaling is used to treat buildups of biofilm, plaque, and tartar that accumulate on the teeth and below the gum line.


Temporary Crown

This is the crown that is given to you while your custom one is being crafted. It is usually composed of stainless steel or acrylic.



An underbite is when the lower teeth surpass the back teeth.


Wisdom Teeth -

The wisdom teeth are positioned at the very back of the jaw. Sometimes there is not enough room for them, and they must be removed.

Are You Still Unsure About a Specific Dental Term?

Dentist of Cerritos believes in patient education. If you need help deciphering a specific dental term, simply contact us or call (562) 414-5064!

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