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palate: hard and soft tissue forming the roof of the mouth.

panoramic X-ray: often referred to as panorex; it is a type of X-ray that shows a complete two dimensional representation of all the teeth in the mouth. This X-rays also shows the relationship of the teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head.

partial denture: a removable appliance that replaces some of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

pathology: study of disease.

pedodontics or pediatric dentistry: dental specialty focusing on treatment of infants, children, and young adults.

pedodontist/pediatric dentist: the oral health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the dental problems of children from infancy to early adulthood.

periapical: region at the end of the roots of teeth.

periapical X-rays: X-rays providing complete side views from the roots to the crowns of the teeth.

periodontal ligament: The connective tissue that surrounds the tooth (specifically covering the cementum) and connects the tooth to the jawbone, holding it in place.

periodontist: the dental specialist who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the soft tissues of the mouth (the gums) and the supporting structures (bones) of the teeth (both natural and man-made teeth).

periodontitis: a more advanced stage of periodontal disease in which the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets and alveolar bone is destroyed.

periodontium: The tissue that lines the socket into which the root of the tooth fits.

permanent teeth: the teeth that replace the deciduous or primary teeth -- also called baby teeth. There are (usually) 32 adult teeth in a complete dentition.

plaque: a colorless, sticky film composed of undigested food particles mixed with saliva and bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. Plaque left alone eventually turns in to tartar or calculus and is the main factor in causing dental caries and periodontal disease.

pontic: a replacement tooth mounted on a fixed or removal appliance.

porcelain: a tooth-colored, sand-like material; much like enamel in appearance.

porcelain crown: all porcelain restoration covering the coronal portion of tooth (above the gum line).

porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crown: restoration with metal caping (for strength) covered by porcelain (for appearance).

porcelain inlay or onlay: tooth-colored restoration made of porcelain, cemented or bonded in place.

post: thin metal rod inserted into the root of a tooth after root canal therapy; provides retention for a capping that replaces lost tooth structure.

pregnancy gingivitis: gingivitis that develops during pregnancy. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy -- especially the increased level of progesterone -- may make it easier for certain gingivitis-causing bacteria to grow as well as make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque and exaggerate the body's response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque.

pregnancy tumors: an extreme inflammatory reaction to a local irritation (such as food particles or plaque) that occurs in up to 10% of pregnant women and often in women who also have pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy tumors appear on inflamed gum tissue as large lumps with deep red pinpoint markings on it, usually near the upper gum line. The red lump glistens, may bleed and crust over, and can make eating and speaking difficult and cause discomfort.

primary teeth: the first set of 20 temporary teeth. Also called baby teeth, the primary dentition, or deciduous teeth, normally fall out one by one between 6 and 12 years of age.

prophylaxis: the cleaning of the teeth for the prevention of periodontal disease and tooth decay.

prosthetics: a fixed or removable appliance used to replace missing teeth (for example, bridges, partials, and dentures).

prosthodontist: a dental specialist who is skilled in restoring or replacing teeth with fixed or removable prostheses (appliances), maintaining proper occlusion; treats facial deformities with artificial prostheses such as eyes, ears, and noses.

Pulp: the living part of the tooth, located inside the dentin. Pulp contains the nerve tissue and blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tooth.

quadrant: dental term for the division of the jaws into four parts. There are four quadrants in the mouth. Two upper and two lower quadrants, both divided at the midline of the mouth.

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