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calcium: an element needed for the development of healthy teeth, bones, and nerves.
calculus: hard, calcium-like deposits that form on teeth due to inadequate plaque control, often stained yellow or brown. Also called "tartar."
canker sore: sores or small shallow ulcers that appear in the mouth and often make eating and talking uncomfortable; they typically appear in people between the ages of 10 and 20 and last about a week in duration before disappearing.
cap: common term for a dental crown.
caries: tooth decay or "cavities."
cementum: hard tissue that covers the roots of teeth.
clasp: device that holds a removable partial denture to stationary teeth.
cleaning: removal of plaque and calculus (tarter) from teeth, generally above the gum line.
cleft lip: a physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip that appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. This separation often extends beyond the base of the nose and includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum.
cleft palate: a split or opening in the roof of the mouth.
composite resin filling: tooth-colored restorative material composed of plastic with small glass or ceramic particles; usually "cured" or hardened with filtered light or chemical catalyst. An alternative to silver amalgam fillings.
conventional denture: a denture that is ready for placement in the mouth about eight to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.
cosmetic (aesthetic) dentistry: a branch of dentistry under which treatments are performed to enhance the color and shape of teeth.
crown: (1) the portion of a tooth above the gum line that is covered by enamel; (2) dental restoration covering all or most of the natural tooth; the artificial cap can be made of porcelain, composite, or metal and is cemented on top of the damaged tooth.
cuspids: the third tooth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the front teeth that have one rounded or pointed edge used for biting. Also known as canines.
cusps: the high points on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
cyst: an abnormal sac containing gas, fluid, or a semisolid material.
DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery -- equivalent to DMD, Doctor of Dental Medicine.
decay: destruction of tooth structure caused by toxins produced by bacteria.
deciduous teeth: commonly called "baby teeth" or primary teeth; the first set of (usually) 20 teeth.
demineralization: loss of mineral from tooth enamel just below the surface in a carious lesion; usually appears as a white area on the tooth surface.
dentin: inner layer of tooth structure, immediately under the surface enamel.
denture: a removable replacement of artificial teeth for missing natural teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available -- complete and partial. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
DMD: Doctor of Medical Dentistry; equivalent to DDS, Doctor of Dental Surgery.
dry mouth: a condition in which the flow of saliva is reduced and there is not enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Dry mouth can be the result of certain medications (such as antihistamines and decongestants), certain diseases (such as Sjögren's syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes), certain medical treatments (such as head and neck radiation), as well as nerve damage, dehydration, tobacco use, and surgical removal of the salivary glands. Also called xerostomia.
dry socket: a common complication that occurs when either a blood clot has failed to form in an extracted tooth socket or else the blood clot that did form has been dislodged.
edentulous: having no teeth.
enamel: the hard, mineralized material that covers the outside portion of the tooth that lies above the gum line (the crown).
endodontics: a field of dentistry concerned with the biology and pathology of the dental pulp and root tissues of the tooth and with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and injuries of these tissues. A root canal is a commonly performed endodontic procedure.
endodontist: a dental specialist concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth.
eruption: the emergence of the tooth from its position in the jaw.
extraction: removal of a tooth.