Glossary

-A-

abscess - infection caused by severe tooth decay, trauma or gum disease.

aggressive periodontitis – advanced form of periodontitis where bone is destroyed and rapid attachment loss is evident; occurring in normally healthy patients.

-B-

bone graft – bone that is from a cadaver source or removed from part of a patient’s body and transferred to another area; also can include bone marrow.

-C-

calculus - the hardened plaque that can form on neglected or prone teeth, commonly known as tartar.

chronic periodontitis – most common form of periodontitis; form of periodontitis where supporting tissues are inflamed, gums recede, periodontal pockets form and bone and attachment loss are progressive.

crown lengthening – procedure used to correct teeth that appear too short (gummy smiles) or are decayed and broken down by reshaping the gum and supporting tissues to expose more of the tooth.

-D-

dental plaque - a sticky buildup of acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.

denture - a removable set of artificial teeth.

-F-

flap surgery – a procedure where the infection is cleaned out of a periodontal pocket through an incision in the gum. The gum flap is then repositioned to help reduce the pocket and encourage healing.

-G-

gingiva – the tissues surrounding the teeth; also known as the gum.

gingivectomy – the removal of gum tissue to eradicate a periodontal pocket or reduce excess gum.

gingivitis - inflammation of gums around the roots of the teeth.

-H-

halitosis – commonly known as bad breath. Halitosis can be traced back to sulfur-producing bacteria that forms when food particles or other debris become trapped within the gum pockets around the teeth in which sulfur, the source of the unpleasant odor, is produced as a by-product from these trapped bacteria.

-I-

implants - a titanium screw attached to the jawbone that replaces the missing root of teeth and which a crown or bridge can be attached.

-M-

maintenance therapy – a continuing program of dental cleanings on regular intervals used to help prevent further infection from occurring in patients who have already received periodontal treatment.

-O-

osseointegration – the three to six-month process where the bone attaches to a dental implant.

osseous surgery – any surgery pertaining to the bone supporting the teeth.

-P-

periodontal ligament – tissue that affixes the tooth to the bone.

periodontal pocket – a space formed when the gums pull away from the teeth; this occurs when plaque breaks down the gum and supporting tissues below the gumline.

periodontics – an area of dentistry that specializes in the treatment of the teeth’s supporting tissues and placement and preservation of dental implants.

periodontist – a general dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease, as well as dental implant placement; additional training of three years after dental school is required for this specialization.

-R-

receding gums - can be caused by gum disease, aggressive tooth brushing, an unbalanced bite, trauma or general wear and tear. Associated with sensitive teeth, receding gums occur when the gums and the bone in the mouth have moved away from the teeth, creating the unsightly appearance of an elongated tooth.

regeneration – procedure used to regenerate lost periodontal structures, such as bone, ligaments and connective tissue attachments, that support the teeth.

ridge augmentation – procedure used to repair a defect in the bony ridge.

root planing – the process of smoothing the root of the tooth so any remaining tartar is removed and clearing away any rough areas that bacteria below the gumline thrive in.

root scaling – process involving the scraping and removal of plaque and tartar from the tooth either above or below the gumline.

-S-

sedation dentistry – refers to the use of sedation during dental treatment; endorsed by the American Dental Association as an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit.

-T-

tooth sensitivity - occur when dentin (the protective blanket covering the roots) becomes exposed as a result of receding gum tissue. The pain or discomfort you may experience happens when dentinal tubules leading to the tooth’s nerve center (the pulp) allow the hot, cold, sweet and sour stimuli to reach the nerve center eliciting a sharp pain.