Periodontal Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A localized collection of pus in a cavity formed by the disintegration of tissues.


A tooth or implant used for the support or anchorage of a fixed or removable prosthesis.

Advanced periodontitis

Inflammation of the supporting tissues of the teeth.


The anatomic end of the tooth root.

- back to top -

Bone graft

Bone or bone marrow taken from one part of a patients own body and transferred to another.


Tooth grinding habit.

- back to top -


A hard deposit attached to the teeth, usually consisting of mineralized bacterial plaque.

Caverous resorption

Bone loss leaving hollow spaces. Such resorption may appear on radiographs of teeth with vertical root fractures.


A biguanide antiseptic agent used to prevent colonization of micro-organisms on the surfaces of skin, mucous membranes, and teeth.


A main supportive protein of skin, bone and other connective tissues.


A saucer-shaped defect of soft tissue or bone, often seen interdentally.

CT graft (connective tissue)

Gum tissue grafted to cosmetically correct gum defects.


A notable pointed or rounded eminence on or near the masticating(chewing) surface of a tooth.

- back to top -


The removal of inflamed, devitalized, contaminated tissue or foreign material from or adjacent to a lesion.


The removal of calcium salts from a bone or tooth.

Dental Plaque

A sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth. The bacteria in dental plaque is what causes periodontal disease. If plaque is not removed carefully each day by brushing and flossing, it becomes calculus.


Natural teeth in the dental arch: they may be primary or secondary teeth.


An artificial substitute for missing natural teeth. A complete denture replaces all of the teeth in an arch.

- back to top -


An abnormal swelling resulting from an accumulation of watery fluid in a tissue.


The hard calcified tissue covering the dentin of the crown portion of a tooth.


The tissue serving as the lining of the intra-oral surfaces. It extends into the gingival crevice and adheres to the tooth at the base of the cervice.


The study of the causes of disease which results from an abnormal state producing pathological conditions.

- back to top -


A tumor comprised of fibrous connective tissue.


The drainage tract from an abscess.

Flap Surgery

The periodontist makes an incision in the gum where periodontal pockets have formed. He or she reflects the gum flap away, exposing the tooth root and cleans all infection out from the pocket. Bone regeneration procedures such as bone-grafting may be performed at this point. The periodontist then positions the gum to reduce the pocket and promote healing. The incision is sutured closed following the procedure.


The excision of the frenum. The fold of mucous membrane connecting the lip and the alveolar process in the midline of both the maxilla and the mandible.

- back to top -


The gum, tissues which immediately surround the teeth and are contiguous with the periodontal membrane and the mucosal tissue of the mouth.


The excision of the gum tissue to eliminate periodontal pockets.


The first stage of periodontal disease. The gums usually become red, swollen and bleed easily. This is brought on by the bacteria in dental plaque if not removed on a daily basis.


A piece of living tissue placed in contact with injured tissue to repair a defect or supply a deficiency.


Proliferation of inflammatory tissue.

- back to top -


A foul or unpleasant breath


The surgical separation of a multi-rooted tooth through the furcation area in such a way that a root or roots may be surgically removed along with the associated portion of the crown. The procedure is most frequently performed on lower molars but may be performed on any multirooted tooth.


The abnormal multiplication or increase in the number of normal cells.

- back to top -

Impacted Tooth

An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone or soft tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.


Artificial substitutes for tooth roots. Made from titanium and placed in the jaw, dental implants are either screw, cylinder or blade in form. Prosthetic teeth are attached to the part of the implant that protrudes through the gum. In many ways, dental implants function like natural teeth.


Localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues, which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall of both
in injurious agent and the injured area.


Situated between the adjacent surfaces of teeth in the same arch.


Between adjoining surfaces, such as the proximal surfaces of contiguous teeth.

- back to top -


A common name for either the maxillae(upper jaw) or the mandible(lower jaw).

Juvenile Periodontitis

Inflammation of the supporting tissues of the teeth that has its onset at puberty.

- back to top -


A condition marked by the development on mucosal tissue of white, thickened patches which cannot be rubbed off and which sometimes show a tendency to fissure. It is common in smokers, and the affected tissue sometimes
becomes malignant.

Lichen Planus

An inflammatory mucocutaneous disorder characterized by discrete skin papules with a keratinized covering with a keratinized covering which often appears in the form of adherent scales. These oral lesions are common and sometimes the only manifestation of the disease.


The connective tissue structure that attaches the roots of the teeth to the bone.

Lingual Surface

Pertaining to the tongue.

- back to top -

Maintenance Therapy

An ongoing program designed to prevent periodontal disease from recurring for patients who have undergone periodontal treatment. Also referred to as supportive periodontal therapy.


Imperfect occlusion of the teeth.


The lower jaw.


The upper jaw.

Mesial Surface

Toward or situated toward the middle, or the center of the dental arch.


A generic term used to describe the mucogingival junction and its relationships to the attached gingiva, alveolar
mucosa, frenula, muscle attachments and the buccal and labial vestibule.


The tissue lining the oral cavity.

- back to top -


Death of tissue, usually as individual cells, groups of cells, or in small localized areas.

- back to top -


Pertaining to the contacting surfaces of opposing teeth.


Any contact of opposing teeth.


The attachment of the bone to a dental implant. This usually takes three to six months after the implant has been placed in the mouth.


Pertaining to bone.

Osseous Surgery

Any surgical procedure that deals with the bony support of the teeth.


Development of bone: formation of bone.


Pertaining to bone and its periostum.


Reshaping of the alveolar process to achieve a more physiologic form without removal of alveolar (supporting) bone.


- back to top -

Periodontal Ligament

The tissue that attaches the tooth to the bone. Usually destroyed by advanced cases of periodontal disease, creating increased mobility of the teeth.

Periodontal Pocket

Toxins in plaque destroy the gum and connective tissues beneath the gum line. The gums pull away from the teeth,
forming a pocket (space). As the disease progresses toward the bone, the pocket fills with plaque and infection. If not treated, the bone and connective tissue surrounding the tooth may become so severely damaged that the tooth will fall out or need to be extracted.


That branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their implanted substitutes.


Inflammation of the supporting tissues of the teeth.


The tissues that surround and support the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligament and bone.


Any organized mass, consisting mainly of micro-oraganisms, that adheres to the tooth or occupies the gingival crevice.

Preventive Treatment

Those procedures performed at intervals that assist the periodontal patient in maintaining dental health.


The richly innervated and vascularized connective tissue contained within the pulp chamber and root canal of a tooth.


The complete removal of the dental pulp—root canal therapy.

- back to top -




Pertaining to the root of a tooth and its adjacent structures.

Rapidly Progressive Periodontitis

A rare form of periodontal disease which affects young adults typically in the early twenties through mid-thirties. The disease is characterized by severe inflammation of the gums and a quick onset of the disease. May be related to several forms of rare systemic diseases including diabetes mellitus Type 1, Down's syndrome, Papillon-Lefevresyndrome, and AIDS.

Refractory Periodontal Disease

A form of recurring periodontal disease resistant to proven treatment methods which may reflect an underlying systemicor immunologic condition.

Ridge Augmentation

A surgical procedure to restore a deformity in the bony ridge.


The anatomic part of a tooth normally within the alveolar bone and attached to it by the periodontal ligament.

Root Amputation

Removal of a root from a tooth.

Root Scaling and Planing

A non-surgical procedure where the periodontist removes plaque and calculus from the periodontal pocket and around the tooth root and smoothes the root surfaces to promote healing.

Root Planing

A procedure designed to remove cementum or surface dentin that is rough, impregnated with calculus, or contaminated with toxins or microoraganisms.

- back to top -



The tasteless, clear fluid secreted by the major and minor salivary glands.


Instrumentation of the crown and root surfaces of the teeth to remove plaque, calculus and stains.


One of the six relatively equal sections into which the dental arches can be divided.

Soft Palate

The posterior, mobile part of the palate.


An appliance or device employed to prevent motion or displacement of loose teeth.


An acrylic appliance used as a positioning guide or support.


Area below the tongue


A shallow fissure between the gingiva and the tooth.

Supporting Structures

Those tissues immediately surrounding a tooth and connected with it.


Teeth usually out of contact with opposing members which have erupted beyond the occlusal level of adjacent teeth.


- back to top -


TemporoMandibular Joint (TMJ)

The connecting, sliding hinge mechanism between the lower jaw and the base of the skull.


An x-ray of a selected layer of the body. Gives a projection of the cross section of bone determining width.

Trench Mouth

Inflammation of the gingiva.


A bulbous protuberance or elevation of a bone.


- back to top -

Vestibule of the Mouth

That portion of the oral cavity which lies between gingiva and the lips and cheeks.


- back to top -