chronic, localized inflammation, with a collection of
A tooth or implant used to support a
Referring to the bone to which a tooth
A surgical procedure for recontouring
alveolar structures, usually in preparation for a
A mixture of metals used in dental
restorations (commonly referred to as a silver filling).
Loss of pain sensation without loss of
Partial or total absence of sensation
to stimuli. There are three types of anesthesia:
- A controlled state of unconsciousness, accompanied by
a loss of ability to independently maintain airway and
respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal
Intravenous Conscious Sedation - A depressed level
of consciousness that retains the patient's ability to
independently and continuously maintain an airway and to
respond appropriately to physical stimulation or verbal
accompanied by a loss of ability to independently maintain
airway and respond purposefully to physical stimulation or
Local Anesthesia - Elimination of sensations,
especially pain, in one part of the body by the topical
application or regional injection of an anesthetic drug.
Anniversary Date -
The day and month that the patients'
insurance first became effective, and on which coverage
Refers to the teeth and tissues
located in the front of the mouth – upper and lower incisors
The tip or end of the root of a tooth.
Removal (amputation) of the apex of a
The curved structure of the natural
dentition or the ridge remaining after the loss of some or
all of the natural teeth.
Assignment Of Benefits -
A clause in the policy that allows
the insured person to direct the payment by the carrier to
the dentist. The insured person does this by signing the
assignment box on the claim form, or by signing a "signature
on file" form.
Back Teeth -
See Posterior Teeth
Benefit Year -
Usually begins on the month of the
year that the employer purchased the plan.
The mild character of an illness or
non-malignant character of a neoplasm.
A tooth with two cusps, usually in
front of a molar and referred to as a premolar.
Pertaining to both sides of the mouth.
Process of removing tissue for
Birthday Rule -
When a child is covered under both
parent's plans, the plan of the parent who's birthday (month
and day, not year) falls earlier in the calendar year is
An X-ray that shows the upper and
lower teeth's biting surfaces on the same film. This x-ray
shows the portion of the teeth above the gumline.
The process by which two or more
components are made into one by mechanical and/or chemical
adhesion at their interface.
There are two types of bridges:
Fixed Bridge - A prosthetic replacement of one or
more missing teeth cemented or attached to the abutment
teeth or implants adjacent to the space.
Removable Bridge - A prosthetic replacement of one
or more missing teeth on a framework that can be removed by
Grinding of teeth.
Facing the cheek.
Calendar Year -
January 1st to December 31st.
Hard deposits of mineralized plaque
which are attached to the crowns and or roots of teeth; also
referred to as tartar.
The narrow chamber inside the root of
the tooth that contains the nerve and blood vessels.
Capitation Plan -
A plan where the dentist is contracted
with the administrator to provide dental services to persons
covered under the program in return for payment on a
per-capita basis (per head).
Caries - Commonly
used term for tooth decay.
Carrier - The party
(usually an insurance company) that pays the claims and
collects the premiums.
Carryover - If the
deductible was paid during the last 3 months of the prior
year, it can carry forward into the current year and not be
Cementum - Hard
connective tissue covering the root portion of a tooth.
Cleaning - See
Cleft palate - A
congenital deformity resulting in lack of fusion of the soft
and or hard palate, may be either partial or complete.
Clenching - The
clamping and pressing of the jaws and teeth together,
frequently associated with psychological stress or physical
Closed Panel - A plan
where the covered patient only receives benefits if the
services are provided by a dentist who is under contract
with the dental benefit company or plan.
C.O.B. - See
Coordination Of Benefits.
Complete Series - See
Full Mouth X-rays.
Composite - A dental
restorative material made up of separate parts (e.g. resin
and quartz particles).
Coordination Of Benefits
(C.O.B.) - This process becomes involved when the
patient is covered by more than one plan. Coverage is then
divided between the two plans using guidelines established
by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Coronal - Refers to
the crown of a tooth.
Crown - There are
three types of crowns:
Anatomical Crown -
That portion of the tooth normally visible and covered by
Artificial Crown - A
restoration covering or replacing the major part of the
Abutment Crown - An
artificial crown serving for the retention or support of a
Crown Lengthening - A
surgical procedure exposing more of the tooth for
restorative purposes by repositioning the gingival margin
and/or removing supporting bone.
Curettage - Scraping
or cleaning the walls of a cavity or gingival pocket.
Cusp - A pointed or
rounded eminence on or near the chewing surface of a 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.
Cyst - A pathological
cavity or space, containing fluid or soft matter.
Debridement - Removal
of subgingival and/or supragingival plaque and calculus
which obstructs the ability to perform an evaluation;
removal of bruised and devitalized tissue from a wound
Decay - The lay term
for carious lesions in tooth; decomposition of tooth
Deciduous - To fall
off or shed; a name used for the primary (baby) teeth.
Deductible - The
amount paid by the patient before the carrier starts to pay
Dental Health Maintenance
Organization (DHMO) - A legal entity that accepts
the responsibility of providing services at a fixed price.
The enrollees in these plans must have dental care provided
through designated doctors.
Dentin - That part of
the tooth that is beneath enamel and cementum.
Dentition - The teeth
in the dental arch.
Denture - An
artificial substitute for natural teeth and adjacent
Dependent - Usually
the spouse and children of the subscriber.
Procedures performed by the dentist to evaluate the
condition of the teeth and mouth.
Diastema - A space,
such as one between two adjacent teeth.
Distal - Toward the
back of a tooth or the dental arch (away from the midline).
D.H.M.O. - See
Dental Health Maintenance Organization.
Dry Socket -
Localized inflammation of the tooth socket, following an
extraction, due to infection or loss of blood clot.
Edentulous - Without
Eligibility - A
process used to determine if the patient is eligible for
benefits. This should be done before the treatment begins.
Enamel - Hard
calcified tissue covering the dentin on the crown of a
Endo - See
Endodontic - Relating
to the pulp.
Endodontist - A
dental specialist whose practice is limited to treating
disease and injury to the pulp. Endodontists perform root
canal therapy and other services related to the blood
vessels and nerve tissue inside teeth.
Reshaping of the occlusal surfaces of teeth to create proper
contact between the upper and lower teeth; also know as
Excision - Surgical
removal of bone and/or tissue.
Exclusion - A service
not covered by a dental policy.
Overgrowth of bone.
Facial - The surface
of a tooth directed toward the face (including the buccal
and labial surfaces).
Fee Schedule - A set
amount paid by the insurance company that is unrelated to
the doctor's fee.
Filling - A term used
for the restoration of lost tooth structure with materials
such as amalgams or plastic.
Fluoride - A gel or
liquid that prevents decay.
F.M.X. - See Full
Foramen - A natural
opening into or through bone.
Front Teeth - See
Full Mouth X-RAYS (F.M.X.) -
X-rays showing all the teeth. Includes 14
periapicals and 2 or 4 bitewings. Also known as a complete
Gender Rule - When a
child is covered under both parent's plans, the father's
plan is billed first.
General Anesthesia -
Medication that relieves the sensation of pain on the whole
body. General anesthesia renders you unconscious.
Gingiva - The soft
tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth; otherwise know
as the "gums".
Gingivectomy - The
removal of gingival tissue.
Inflammation of gingival tissue.
Surgical procedure to reshape gingiva to create a normal,
Graft - A piece of
tissue or material placed in contact with tissue to repair a
Surgical separation of a multirooted tooth so that one root
and/or the overlaying portion of the crown can be surgically
Immediate Denture - A
denture constructed for placement immediately after removal
of all remaining teeth.
Impacted - An
unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned
against another tooth, bone or soft tissue so that complete
eruption is unlikely.
Implant - A device
specially designed to be placed surgically within or on the
jaw bone as a means of replacing teeth.
Incentive Program - A
dental plan where benefits start at a given percentage and
the percentage increases each year if the patient visits the
dentist annually for preventive treatment. However, if the
patient fails to go to the dentist each year the percentage
drops back to where it started.
Incisors - The
central and lateral incisors, are the first and second teeth
from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These
are the front teeth with flat edges for biting.
Inlay - A laboratory
processed restoration made of metal, acrylic or porcelain.
This filling does not involve the high points of the tooth
Between the adjoining surfaces of adjacent teeth.
Jaw - A common name
for either the maxilla or the mandible.
Labial - Pertaining
to or around the lip.
Least Cost Alternative -
A clause in the policy that allows an insurance company
to pay for the least expensive treatment.
Lesion - An injury or
wound; area of diseased tissue.
Lingual - Pertaining
to or around the tongue.
Local Anesthesia -
Medication that relieves the sensation of pain in a
Malar - Pertaining to
the cheek bone.
Malignant - Having
the abnormal properties of dysplasia, invasion and
Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of the
upper and lower teeth.
Managed Care Plans -
Plans that restrict the type, level and frequency of
treatment; limit the access to care; and control the level
of reimbursement for services. These are D.H.M.O.'s,
Capitation plans, Closed Panel plans, PPO plans or other
network based programs.
Mandible - Lower jaw.
Maxilla - Upper jaw.
Maximum - The maximum
dollar amount of benefits a plan will pay toward the cost of
dental care over a specific period of time (usually one
Mesial - Toward the
front of a tooth or the dental arch (towards the midline).
Molar - A posterior
tooth used for grinding; behind the premolars (bicuspids) on
either side of the jaw, having a large crown and a broad
Mucous Membrane - The
lining of the oral cavity; also called mucosa.
Nightguard - A
removable acrylic appliance to minimize the effects of
grinding (bruxism) or joint problems (T.M.J.). Usually worn
at night to prevent grinding or relieve joint pain. Also
known as an occlusal guard.
Obturator - A
prosthesis that closes an opening in the palate.
Occlusion - Any
contact between biting or chewing surfaces of the upper and
Onlay - A laboratory
processed restoration made of metal, porcelain or acrylic
that replaces one or more of the highest points of the tooth
Removal of the operculum.
Operculum - The flap
of tissue over an unerupted or partially erupted tooth.
Oral - Pertaining to
Oral Surgeon - A
dental specialist whose practice is limited to diagnosing
and treating diseases, injuries, deformities and defects of
Orthodontist - A
dental specialist whose practice is limited to preventing
and treating malocclusion of the teeth.
Orthognathic - The
functional relationship between the maxilla and the
Overdenture - A
prosthetic device that is supported by retained roots or
Palate - The hard and
soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth that separates
the oral and nasal cavities.
Treatment that temporarily relieves pain but is not
Panorex - An x-ray
taken outside of the mouth that shows all the teeth on one
Partial Denture - A
prosthetic device that replaces the missing teeth with a
framework that can be removed by the patient.
Pediatric Dentist - A
dental specialist whose practice is limited to treating
children; formerly known as a pedodontist.
Pedo - See
Pedontics (PEDO) -
The treatment of children's teeth.
Periapical - The area
surrounding the end of the tooth root.
Pericoronal - Around
the crown of a tooth.
Perio - See
Perio Charting -
Measures the depth that the gums have detached from the side
of the tooth.
Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the
Periodontal Maintenance -
Cleaning of the teeth following periodontal treatment,
includes perio charting.
Periodontics (PERIO) -
The treatment of diseases of the gum or bone (supporting
Periodontist - A
dental specialist whose practice is limited to the treatment
of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the
Inflammation and loss of the connective tissue of the
supporting or surrounding structures of teeth.
Perio Pocket - The
pocket that forms when the gums detach from the side of the
Perio Prophy - See
Perio Recall - See
Permanent First and Second
Molars - The adult first and second molars, are
the sixth and seventh teeth from the center of the mouth to
the back of the mouth.
Permanent Molars -
The adult first, second and third molars.
Permanent Dentition -
See Permanent Teeth.
Permanent Teeth - The
adult teeth. Also known as the permanent dentition.
Plaque - A soft
sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely
Pontic - The term
used for the artificial tooth on a fixed bridge.
Post - An elongated
metallic projection cemented within the prepared root canal,
serving to strengthen and retain restorative material and/or
a crown restoration.
Posterior - Refers to
teeth and tissues toward the back of the mouth, (premolars,
bicuspids and molars).
P.P.O. - See
Preferred Provider Organization.
Precert - See
Precision Attachment -
An interlocking device integrated into a fixed or
removable prosthesis to help keep the prosthesis in place.
Pre D - See
Predetermination - A
process used to determine the benefits available for dental
services that are planned by the dentist: an estimate of the
amounts payable by the plan if services are rendered when
the patient is eligible.
Pre-Existing Condition -
When benefits are allowed to treat a condition that was
present when the patient first became insured.
Preferred Provider Organization
(P.P.O.) - A network of dentists who have agreed
to accept discounted fees for patients covered by a specific
Preventive - A
procedure performed to prevent decay and gum disease. The
procedures that are classified as preventive include
prophylaxes, fluoride treatment and the placement of
See Primary Teeth.
Primary Plan When the
patient is insured by two plans, the plan that is billed
first is the primary plan. The order is determined by
guidelines established by the National Association of
Primary Teeth The
baby teeth. Also known as the primary dentition or first set
of teeth to erupt.
Prophy - See
Prophylaxis - A
polishing procedure performed to remove coronal plaque,
calculus and stains; often referred to as a cleaning.
Prosthesis - An
artificial replacement of any part of the body; dental
prosthesis is any device or appliance replacing one or more
Prosthetic - A fixed
or removable appliance to replace missing teeth, such as a
bridge, partial denture or full denture.
Prosthetic Replacement -
The replacement of an existing bridge, partial or full
Dealing with the replacement of missing teeth with
Prosthodontist - A
dental specialist whose practice is limited to the
restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of
Provider - The
dentist who renders treatment to the patient.
Provisional - A
temporary or interim solution.
Pulp - The blood
vessels and nerve tissue that occupies the pulp cavity of a
Pulp Cavity - The
space within a tooth, which contains the pulp.
Inflammation of the dental pulp.
Pulpotomy - Removal
of a portion of the pulp.
Quadrant - One of the
four equal sections into which the dental arches can be
divided; begins at the midline of the arch and extends back
to the last tooth (right and left sides of both arches).
Radiograph - X-ray.
R.C.T. - See Root
Reline - Process of
resurfacing the tissue side of a denture with new material.
Resin Filling - See
Procedures performed to restore missing or decayed teeth.
Retainer - Appliance
to stabilize the teeth following orthodontic treatment.
Retrograde Filling -
A method of sealing the root canal by filling it from the
Root - The anatomic
portion of the tooth that is covered by cementum and is
located in the socket of bone.
Root Canal - The
chamber within the root of the tooth that contains the pulp.
Root Canal Therapy -
Treating disease of and injuries to the pulp usually by
removing the pulp from the canal of the tooth and replacing
it with a filling material.
Root Planing - A
procedure designed to remove calculus from the root surfaces
Scaling - The removal
of plaque, calculus and stain from teeth.
Sealant - A clear
application of acrylic placed over the biting surface of the
tooth to prevent decay.
Secondary Plan - When
a patient is insured by two plans, the plan that is billed
second is the secondary plan. The order is detemined by
guidelines established by the National Association of
Sialodochoplasty - A
surgical procedure for the repair of a defect and/or
restoration of a portion of a salivary gland duct.
Sialolithotomy - A
surgical procedure by which a stone within a salivary gland
or its duct is removed.
Signature on File -
When the patient signs a statement in the dental office, but
does not sign the actual claim form being submitted. The
statement in question may authorize the dentist to receive
information about the patient, or may assign benefits to the
Single Film - See
Splint - A device
used to support, protect, or immobilize oral structures that
have been loosened, replanted, fractured or traumatized.
Inflammation of the membranes of the mouth.
Subscriber - The
person who carries the dental plan.
Suture - A stitch
used to repair an incision or wound.
TARTAR - See
Temporomandibular joint - the hinge between the lower jaw
(mandible) and base of the skull (temporal bone).
Disfunction - Abnormal TMJ functioning also
refers to symptoms arising in other areas secondary to the
Third Molar - See
Torus - A bony
elevation or outgrowth of bone.
Trismus - Limited
ability to open the mouth, usually due to inflammation.
U.C.R. - See
Usual, Customary and Reasonable.
Unerupted - Tooth or
teeth that have not penetrated into the mouth.
Uniclaim - A
universal claim form that can be used instead of waiting for
the patient to bring in their form. Some insurance companies
may not accept uniclaims.
Usual, Customary and Reasonable
(U.C.R.) - The dentists fee that is usually
charged, customary in a given area, and reasonable because
of special circumstances (difficulty).
Veneer - A layer of
tooth colored material attached to the surface.
Virgin Teeth - Teeth
that have no decay or fillings.
Waiver of Deductible -
When the deductible does not apply to certain procedures
(usually diagnostic & preventive).
Wax-Up - A wax form
that is a model of an object to be fabricated.
Wisdom Tooth - The
third molar, or eighth tooth from the center of mouth to the
back of the mouth. Wisdom teeth are often impacted
(obstructed from erupting) and have to be extracted.
X-ray - Radiograph.
Decreased salivary secretion that produces a dry and
sometimes burning sensation of the mouth.
Zygomatic Bone -
Quadrangular bone on either side of face that forms the