Glossary of Dental Terms


This is a glossary of terms for your information.

Aria Dental recommends that you understand dental terms and words that may be used in the course of dialogue with our Dentists and Dental Staff.

Please do not hesitate to seek further clarification, if necessary.

All our staff will be happy to assist in your understanding.


  • Abrasion: Loss of tooth structure caused by a hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique or bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth).
  • Abscess: A localised collection of pus, usually due to bacterial infection.
  • Abutment: In dentistry, an abutment is a connecting element. This is used in the context of a fixed bridge (the “abutment teeth” referring to the teeth supporting the bridge), partial removable dentures (the “abutment teeth” referring to the teeth supporting the denture) and in dental implants (the abutment is used to attach prosthesis such as a crown to the dental implant fixture). The implant fixture is the screw-like component that is osseointegrated with the jawbone.
  • Adhesive Dentistry: Contemporary term for dental restorations that involve “bonding” of composite resin or porcelain fillings to natural teeth.
  • Allergy: Unfavourable systemic response to a foreign substance or drug.
  • Alveolar Bone: The jawbone that anchors the roots of teeth.
  • Amalgam: A most common filling material, also known as silver fillings, containing mercury, silver, tin, copper and zinc.
  • Analgesia: A state of pain relief or an agent that lessens pain.
  • Anaesthesia: Partial or complete elimination of pain sensation. Numbing a tooth is an example of local anaesthesia; general anaesthesia produces complete unconsciousness.
  • Anterior Teeth: The six upper or six lower front teeth.
  • Antibiotic: A drug that stops or slows the growth of bacteria.
  • Apex: The tip of the root of a tooth.
  • Apicectomy: Surgical removal of the root tip.
  • Arches: The dental arches are the two arches (crescent arrangements) of teeth, one on each jaw, that together constitute the dentition. In humans and many other species, the superior (maxillary or upper) dental arch is slightly larger than the inferior (mandibular or lower) arch, so that in the normal condition the teeth in the maxilla (upper jaw) slightly overlap those of the mandible (lower jaw) both in front and at the sides. The way that the jaws, and thus the dental arches, approach each other when the mouth closes, which is called the occlusion, determines the occlusal relationship of opposing teeth, and it is subject to malocclusion (such as cross-bite) if facial or dental development was imperfect.
  • Attrition: Loss of structure due to natural wear.