Tooth ABC

Things to know about teeth and dental health



Accelerated wear of the occlusal surfaces, through e.g. teeth grinding, clenching

Collection of pus in the soft tissue or bone as a result of acute inflammation

Adhesive technique
Special adhesive technique for composite or ceramic fillings

Dental cleaning with powder jet

Tooth socket in the jawbone directly surrounding the dental roots

Dental filling material out of a mercury alloying. Restrictions of use for preventive health protection reasons concern, amongst others, patients with severe renal dysfunction and children of up to six years of age.

Amalgam replacement
Exchange of old amalgam fillings against new ceramic inlays

History of a patient in relation to the current disease

A kind of anaesthesia with pain-relieving and calming active ingredients, in which the patient is put into a sleep-like state. In contrast to anaesthesia, the patient can react to stimuli. Often a local anaesthetic is also necessary.

Apex granuloma
Nodular vesicles in the tissue that the body forms around centres of inflammation – in the jaw these are often the root tips – to prevent them from spreading.
They usually cause no direct symptoms, but can burden the organism and proceed to become a purulent ulcer (abscess).

Surgical removal of an infected root tip for the purpose of preserving the tooth

Small, often extremely painful inflammation on the lining of the mouth (oral mucosa)

The opening and closing of the lower jaw

Joint for removable dentures, whereby two parts, a fitting and a hollow form need to interlock or rather be slid into each other.

Recovery measure of lost bone substance or for general bone structure. Augmentations are often performed before a prosthetic restoration that is necessary.


Bass technique
A tooth brushing technique for adults whereby the brush is applied at an angle of 45° on the gumline and moved over the teeth with small, vibrating movements. This is a good way to clean teeth and gumline. The selection of proper brushing technique, as well as the corresponding guidance should be made individually at the dental practice.

Small premolar teeth

Teeth whitening, bleaching of the tooth/teeth

Bonus booklet
The preventive check-ups at the dentist are noted here – they are a decisive factor for subsidies to be given for dental prostheses by German healthcare. At least one examination pear year is considered to be regular. Children from age six and up until they are 18 need to go for a check-up every six months. After reaching the age of twelve, the preventive check-ups are entered in the bonus booklet.

Border seal
A dental crown must merge smoothly with the stump of the tooth without any cracks or ledges. No marginal gap should be felt.

Metal, plastic or ceramic anchoring points glued to the teeth that are connected with special elastic wire arches to form fixed braces.

The bridge replaces a gap between two teeth. These teeth are used as “pillars” in the process and prepared in the same way crowns are. The bridge consists of one piece and is attached to the pillars. It cannot be taken out. The base consists of a metal alloy (mostly gold in colour), upon which ceramic or plastic is fastened.

Grinding of teeth



Solid deposits on the tooth that cannot be removed by rinsing or brushing.
Arises from the storage of minerals stemming from the saliva in the dental plaque.

When sugar is converted into acid through bacteria, the acid can decalcify and dissolve the tooth structure, thereby creating a hole.

Computer-aided procedure for the production of ceramic fillings, inlays and crowns. A 3D camera connected to a PC enables the exact measurement of a tooth. The data can be sent directly to a separate grinder that cuts the desired shape out of a ceramic block. Without conventional impressions, the prosthesis can be fabricated and inserted in a single session.

Directly by the patient’s side during a session

Antibacterial agent, e.g. in mouthwashes

“COI” brushing technique
Brushing technique for children: chewing surfaces, outer surfaces, inside surfaces

Tooth-coloured filling material made of plastic, reinforced with ceramic and glass

Craniomandibular dysfunction (CMD)
Malfunction in the interaction of jaw joint, chewing muscles and teeth

Tooth-coloured stable filling material made of plastic, reinforced with ceramic and glass.
The material is sealed to the tooth bone and tooth enamel and is usually hardened with a special light.

Highly tenacious, calciferous deposit on the root surface under the gumline that can only be removed by curettage

If the tooth is partially defective and can no longer be filled, it has to be crowned.
The crown completely covers the part of the tooth protruding into the mouth cavity.

Removal of calculus and plaque from teeth and tooth roots with the help of hand-held instruments, ultrasound and, at times, laser.


Decalcification of the enamel

Dental hygienist
specially trained professional who works in the dental practice, especially treating and caring for patients with periodontal disease. Another central task is to educate patients about proper oral hygiene with the aim of establishing oral health.

Dental impression
Preparation of an impression of the teeth with the help of plastic impression materials (e.g.
silicone, alginate, cast, etc.). With the help of this impression of teeth or jaws, the dental technician fabricates the corresponding model.

Dental laboratory
Lab that produces dental technology

Bone-like very hard substance that is located below the tooth enamel and encompasses the pulp
Pulp stone
Calcification of the dental pulp, usually incidental finding in the X-ray image

Eruption of teeth. The first eruption (milk teeth) usually takes place from the sixth to the 30th month of life, the second eruption (permanent teeth) from the sixth to twelfth year of age, with the exception of the wisdom teeth that can erupt from the age of 16 onwards.

Dead (tooth)

Targeted sterilisation of certain defined microbes to prevent the transmission of pathogens.

Laser-based caries diagnosing tool. The laser scans the tooth and emits a signal in the event of carious changes. The diagnodent has a supporting function and does not replace the proven methods of caries diagnostics. The advantage of the technique, however, is that caries can also be detected in places that are difficult to see.

Extended distance between the two first upper incisors

The change in tooth colour can have various causes. These include colourants from food and beverages such as coffee, tea, cola, red wine and tobacco. But diseases or medications can also affect the colour of the teeth.

Dry mouth
Lack of salivary flow, xerostomia. Can occur as a side effect of illnesses, but can also be caused by medication such as medicine aimed at lowering blood pressure and psychotropic drugs, or by irradiation of the salivary glands. Because the remineralisation of the hard dental substances is prevented by saliva, patients with reduced salivation show – with appropriate nutrition – such a rapid increase in caries that only particularly intensive prophylactic care can prevent a complete collapse of the dentition.


Root treatment or root canal treatment

Loss of tooth enamel through exposure to acid

Removal of a tooth


Fine pits and grooves up to five mm deep on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth

Fissure sealing
A special plastic varnish is applied to the cleaned tooth surfaces to protect them from caries and then hardened under the exposure of light.

Fluorides provide protection against tooth decay by embedding themselves within the tooth structure, hardening the enamel and making it resistant to acid attacks. They are used as an additive in toothpaste, in the form of fluoride tablets or at the dentist as a fluoride varnish or gel.

White stains on the tooth enamel caused by high fluoride intake during tooth development

Furcation involvement
Bone loss at the root divisions (furcations)


Inflammation of the gums (gingiva). Caused by bacteria that colonise the border area between the tooth and gums. Indicated by vivid redness and bleeding when exposed to pressure.

Grinding teeth movement of the upper and lower jaw during sleep and in stress situations.
Damages the tooth surface and can lead to changes in the jaw joint.

Grinding teeth guard
Transparent plastic part, which dentists make to individually match the patients’ needs.
Prevents the grinding of teeth.


Bad breath, often caused by poor oral care, deeply damaged teeth or inflammation in the mouth cavity. Bad breath can, however, also be triggered by processes that are not related to the mouth (stomach and intestinal diseases, bronchitis, kidney and bladder diseases, etc.); this is rare, though. In case of frequent or severe bad breath, the dentist should be consulted.


Icon method
Gentle caries treatment: fill is infiltrated into a carious tooth.
This seals the pores in the tooth and the tooth stabilises.

Inlay of the cavity – usually made of gold or ceramics

Interim prosthesis
A prosthesis that is used to prevent the teeth from moving towards the gap until the final prosthesis is completed.

Invisible aligner
It looks like the braces for teeth grinders and does without ugly wires, straps and clamps.

The implant is a supporting pillar that is anchored in the jawbone. This supporting pillar is screwed into the bone instead of a lost tooth and then becomes integrated there. It serves as a support for bridges or single crowns.


Depending on the laser wavelength, this is used in various areas of dentistry: dental surgery, diagnostics, periodontology, caries removal, root canal treatment. Advantages are: painless treatment without syringe, contact-free, no unpleasant vibrations, fast, pleasant and safe, accelerated healing of the wound.

Injury, disorder; carious lesions are colloquially referred to as “holes” in the tooth.


Lower jaw

Upper jaw

Metal ceramics
For crowns or bridges, metal frameworks are veneered with matching ceramic materials in a special process, resulting in a metal-ceramic composite system.

Milk teeth
First dentition of a total of 20 teeth, the eruption of which begins in the sixth–seventh
month of life. The milk teeth are replaced and supplemented by permanent teeth between the
ages six and twelve. Until this time they serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth and should therefore remain as healthy as possible until they are replaced by the permanent teeth.

Mini implants or micro implants
Tiny titanium pins that are used in orthodontics. A spring is anchored to these pins, with which individual teeth can be moved in a targeted manner.

The back teeth that only appear in permanent dentition and therefore have no milk teeth forerunners. The molars have two roots in the lower jaw and three in the upper jaw.


Oral surgery
Specialty within dentistry, which deals specifically with surgical interventions within the oral cavity.

Diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws

Orthopantomogram (OPG)
Also panoramic tomography; an X-ray that provides an overview of the entire upper and lower jaw. All teeth with adjacent jaw areas are displayed as well as the jaw joints and the maxillary sinuses.

Oversensitivity of tooth necks
The tooth necks are exposed, the dentinal tubules are open and there is an increased sensitivity to pain.


Periodontal screening index (PSI)
A dental probe is used to measure how far bone regression has progressed on the tooth during periodontitis. The index indicates a degree of severity between zero and four according to which treatment is required.

Periodontal therapy
Treatment of periodontal disease, the disease of gums and jaw bone

Frequent disease of the gums and jaw bone: it begins with inflammation and periodontal pockets, followed by the disintegration of the periodontium, which in turn often leads to tooth loss.

Plaque is a soft layer in various thicknesses that is composed of bacteria and their products and saliva components.

Plastic filling
The hole is filled with a paste-like material, which then hardens.

Pocket depth
Distance between the upper gumline and the bottom of the pocket, indicates disease of the periodontium.

Provisional care

Dental prosthetics is the replacement of lost natural teeth or missing jaw bone substance with artificial alternatives.

Term for the pulp that fills the inside of the tooth as soft tissue and contains nerves, blood and lymph vessels.

Pulp cavity
Dental cavity; cavity in crown and roots of the tooth

Inflammation of the pulp (dental pulp)

Pulp stone
Calcification of the dental pulp, usually incidental finding in the X-ray image


The human dentition is divided in four areas (= quadrants)


If a plastic prosthesis no longer fits properly because the jaw has changed, the prosthesis must be restored with new plastic.

Root canal
Contains the root of a tooth. The incisor, for example, has a tooth root and a root canal, the lower molars have two roots with up to four root canals.

Root canal treatment
This becomes necessary when the pulp of a tooth is permanently dead or is severely damaged.
The aim of the treatment is to preserve the tooth.


Single-tooth implant
The single tooth is replaced by an implant, the adjacent teeth are not ground like with a bridge.

Sinus lift
Bone grafting; special surgical method of jaw surgery, whereby the bony floor of the maxillary sinuses is thickened.

Sterilisation leads to irreversible inactivation (killing) of all reproductive microorganisms.

Inflammation of the oral mucosa


Third molar
Wisdom tooth

Alloy with titanium components, biocompatible and durable, used for implants and metal prostheses.


Sound waves with frequencies above 20,000 Hz, used in dentistry to remove hard plaque.
Invisible tooth correction


Wafer-thin ceramic or plastic veneers, which are ideal for aesthetic corrections

Vitality test
The patient’s reaction to a cold stimulus indicates whether a tooth is still alive (vital) or not (and therefore avital).


Wisdom teeth
These are what the eighth teeth from the centreline in human dentition are called. Wisdom teeth develop very late and in most people they only erupt in adulthood or not at all.


Severe mouth dryness due to lack of saliva. Can occur as a side effect of illnesses, but can also be caused by medication such as medicine aimed at lowering blood pressure and psychotropic drugs, or by irradiation of the salivary glands. Because remineralisation is prevented by saliva, patients with reduced salivary flow show a high caries risk. Particularly intensive caries preventive measures are necessary. It is important here to fluoridate regularly, possibly even
several times a day, with a tooth or mouth rinse.

Sweet-tasting substance (sugar alcohol), which is less caries-inducing than “normal” sugars like sucrose or glucose. Xylitol has a similar sweetness to sugar, but is very expensive to produce.
It is used, for example, in tooth-friendly chewing gum or fruit sweets.
Can have a laxative effect in larger quantities.