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Dental Services Term Glossary



Full Mouth X-Ray– This series of x-rays reveals all of the teeth (their crowns and roots) and the alveolar bone (the part of the jaw that surrounds the roots of the teeth) around them.


Intraoral x-ray film- This series of x-rays reveals the inside of the mouth.


Bitewing x-ray films- This series of x-rays reveals the crowns of several upper and lower teeth as they bite down.


Panoramic film- This series of x-rays reveals a panoramic view of the entire upper and lower dental arch and the temporomandibular joint (the jaw joint).


Pulp vitality test- This test checks for vital and non-vital pulp tissue which contains blood vessels and nerve tissue which occupies the pulp cavity of a tooth.




Prophylaxis- Cleaning of the teeth (for a child or adult).


*Topical fluoride application– A process in which fluoride treatments are administered.


Oral hygiene instruction- Instructions on how to properly maintain the health and wellness of the mouth (and teeth).


Sealant per tooth- Plastic resin is placed on the biting surfaces of molars to prevent bacteria from attacking the enamel and causing tooth decay (caries).


Space maintainer –fixed unilateral type– Unilateral space maintainers are fixed (usually by cementing the space maintenance appliance in place) to one side of the mouth.


Space maintainer –fixed bilateral type- Bilateral space maintainers are fixed to both sides of the mouth.




Porcelain laminate veneer per tooth- Porcelain laminate veneers are thin, translucent, shell-shaped coverings that are placed over the teeth, and permanently bonded.




Amalgam- A dental amalgam is the silver-colored material used to fill (restore) teeth that have cavities.


Resin- Composite resin dental fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings (see above for definition). Resin dental fillings are colored to look like a natural tooth and they are made out of a plastic dental resin.

Crown porcelain fused to metal- This type of crown has the advantage of being tooth colored while having a metal substructure to help strengthen the tooth and helps to prevent fractures of the porcelain.


Crown full cast- A full set of tooth-shaped “caps” that are placed over the teeth-covering the teeth in order to restore its shape, size, and strength and/or to improve their appearance.


Sedative filling- A sedative filling is designed to just let the tooth settle down if it has been sensitive for some reason.




Pertaining to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases of the dental pulp.

Pulp cap-direct- A direct pulp cap is used in instances where there is a deep decay approaching the pulp but no symptoms or infections. In this case, there is a small part of the pulp exposed.

Pulp cap-indirect- An indirect pulp cap is the more common and it is used in instances where there is a deep decay approaching the pulp but no symptoms or infections.

Therapeutic pulpotomy- The surgical removal of a portion of the pulp with the aim of maintaining the vitality of the remaining portion.

Root Canal- The process in which a dentist treats the inner aspects of tooth, specifically the area that is occupied by the pulp tissue.

Hemisection- The process in which one half of a tooth is removed and the remaining half is restored as a one-rooted tooth. The remaining half is also usually attached or anchored to an adjacent tooth for additional support and stability.

Pertaining to the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth.

Gingivectomy– The excision or removal of gingiva (soft tissues overlying the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted).

Gingivoplasty– A surgical procedure done to reshape gingiva.

Gingival flap procedure- A procedure in which the gums are separated from the teeth and folded back temporarily to allow a dentist to reach the root of the tooth and bone in order to treat gum disease.

Osseous surgery– A procedure in which the deformities in the alveolar bone surrounding the teeth are modified and reshaped. This is a common requirement when dealing with gum disease.

Pedicle soft tissue graft procedure– A procedure that is used in order to cover an exposed root or to eliminate a gingival defect if the root is not too prominent in the arch.

Periodontal scaling and root planing/quad– Scaling is a procedure in which the contamination caused by toxins, plaque, tartar, etc. are all removed; Root planing involves smoothing the root surfaces of the teeth so gum tissue can more firmly reattach to the roots that are clean and smooth to prevent tooth loss and sensitivity problems.

Removable artificial teeth



Artificial teeth fused inside of the mouth.




Occlusal guard- A guard that helps with the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth or contacting surfaces of opposing teeth or opposing occlusion rims.




Alveolectomy- Surgical removal of a portion of the alveolar process to facilitate the fitting of a dental prosthesis.

Frenulectomy- The surgical re-positioning or removal of the frenulum. The frenulum is a small fold of tissue that secures or restricts the motion of a mobile organ (in this case, the tongue).

Excision of hyperplastic tissue- The removal of a pulp polyp.

The branch of dentistry dealing with the prevention and correction of irregular teeth.


The branch of dentistry dealing with the permanent implantation or attachment of artificial teeth in the jaw.
Universal Dental Plan is not dental insurance. This plan does not meet minimum creditable coverage requirements under Massachusetts Law. The plan provides discounts at specific dental providers for dental services. The plan does not make payments directly to the providers of dental services. Plan members are obligated to pay for all dental care services but will receive a discount from those dental care providers who have contracted with the discount dental plan organization. The range of discounts will vary depending on the services provided. For questions concerning the Plan, including a list of network providers, please contact Universal Dental Plan: 20 Park Plaza 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02116. 1-800-894-8984,,