Florence Family Dentistry - Dr. Ashley Covington DMD

. . 1527 Heritage Ln, Florence, SC 29505
   (843) 665-6200

Dental Dictionary


The wearing away of tooth substance through an abnormal mechanical process, such as tooth grinding, clenching or over-brushing with a hard tootbrush.

Localized oral inflammation in the bone , tooth or gum, usually caused by a bacterial infection. Tooth abscesses commonly occur at the end of the root tip and can be the result of decay, trauma or severe gum disease. Symptoms can include pain and/or swelling.

Retainer tooth/teeth or implants that are used to support a bridge.

A plastic type material used to make artificial teeth, dentures and other dental (orthodontic) appliances.

Air Abrasion
The use of air and an abrasive (usually tiny particles of sodium bicarbonate or aluminum oxide) blasted in a stream of water to remove tooth structure or surface staining depending upon the particulate stream used.

A soft rubber-like compound (derived from seaweed) used to take impressions of patient’s teeth and oral structures.

Alveolar Bone
The bone surrounding the roots of teeth.

A procedure used to reshape the remaining alveolar bone in bone-grafting procedures or to prepare for a complete/partial denture.

Most common silver-colored filling, consisting of a mix of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Amalgam is relatively inexpensive and easy to place.

A state of reduced sensitivity to pain whilst a subject is fully conscious.

The study of the structure of the body and the relationship between its constituent parts (organs, bones, blood vessels, tissues etc).

Total/partial loss or absence of feeling produced by disease or by the inhalation/injection of an anesthetic agent.

A medication that causes temporary loss of bodily sensations. Can be applied locally or generally.

Pertaining to the front. Central incisors, lateral incisors, canines and premolar Teeth.

A drug that has the capacity to kill bacteria. Used for the treatment of infections.

Antibiotic Prophylaxis
The administration of antibiotics to a patient pre-operatively, to reduce the risk of causing bacterial endocarditis, which can be a life-threatening inflammation of the endocardium, the membrane lining the cavities of the heart.

A substance that inhibits the growth of germs.

Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis, otherwise known as trench mouth or Vincent’s disease. It is a bacterial infection and ulceration of the gum tissue between teeth, caused by poor dental hygiene and more commonly found in smokers. Antibiotic therapy or minor surgery may be necessary to treat this condition.

Pertaining to the tip/end of the tooth root.

A minor surgical procedure to remove the tip/end of the tooth root to eliminate the source of infection.

Pertaining to the curved nature of the upper and lower jaws. The two arches in the oral cavity are the maxilla and mandible.

A mechanical device that holds models of a patients teeth in the same position as they lie in the mouth so that a dentist can study the bite relationship and jaw movements.

The state of being germ free.

A suction appliance that the dentist places in a patient’s mouth to remove saliva, water and dental debris during dental procedures.

The wearing away of tooth substance due to activities such as chewing and grinding.

A device used to sterilize instruments or materials.


Baby Teeth
A child’s first set of teeth that are progressively replaced by permanent teeth. Also known as primary, deciduous or milk teeth. Usually twenty in number.

Part of a denture that is supported by the alveolar ridge and carries the artificial teeth or a lining material applied under a filling to decrease sensitivity to heat or cold by insulating the pulp (tooth nerve).

(See Premolar)

Pertaining to the relationship between the forces applied during movement of living tissue, teeth and their related structures.

How the upper and lower teeth come together when the mouth is closed. Also known as occlusion.

Bitewing X-rays
X-ray view showing the coronal (above gum line) portion of the upper and lower teeth on the same film.

Pertaining to the whitening of teeth with chemical agents.

Pertaining to the adhesion of materials to teeth for such procedures used to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth. The process of attaching brackets (part of braces) to teeth using a dental adhesive for orthodontic treatment.

Bone Loss
Pertaining to the loss of bone that supports the roots of teeth. Bone loss can result from gum disease/infections or occlusal stress. It can also be (rarely) the result of tumorous growths.

Bone Resorption
The gradual loss of bone, following tooth extraction.

Pertaining to an orthodontic appliance that corrects dental irregularities (over crowding or spacing).

Pertaining to a permanent prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth. Bridges span the space between teeth and are secured in place by cementation to abutment teeth or implants adjacent to the space.

The involuntary/subconscious clenching and grinding of teeth, most commonly during sleep.

The surface of a tooth that faces and is closest to the inside of the cheek.


An essential element found in teeth, bones and nerves.

Mineralized plaque that forms at the gum/tooth margin, it is also known as tartar. Inadequate oral hygiene is the main reason for calculus formation.

Pertains to the root canal, which is a duct within the tooth root, containing nerves and blood vessels.

Commonly a pointed tooth located between the incisors and the first premolar. The third tooth from the middle of the jaw otherwise known as the eye tooth.

Canker Sore
A type of mouth ulcer often caused by viral infection. Usually self limiting and resolve within fourteen days.

Cantilever Bridge
A fixed bridge that attaches to only one tooth, adjacent to a tooth space.

A common term for a crown restoration.

Tooth decay by the progressive breakdown and dissolution of the tooth structure by acid. This is produced by bacteria when they digest dietary sugars.

Pertaining to a plaster model of teeth.

A dental implement that uses ultrasonic (high-frequency sound waves) to clean teeth.

Tooth decay leading to a hole in a tooth.

Commonly caused by the infection of a wound by various bacteria. An inflammation of the deeper layers of the skin (subcutaneous) and sometimes muscle, which can be as a result of abscess formation. Symptoms include fever, swelling, redness and pain.

Pertaining to adhesive materials used to hold crowns, bridges and certain appliances in place.

The process of “gluing” the appliance/prosthesis in-situ.

The calcified surface layer that covers a tooth root.

Central Incisors
Two front teeth at the mid-line in both the upper and lower dental arches.

Cephalometric X-Rays
An X-ray view from the lateral aspect of the head that allows the dentist to study the alignment of the teeth, jaws and associated skeletal structures. Used primarily by orthodontists to diagnose and plan treatment

An anti-microbial agent available as oral rinses and oral gels. It can be an effective agent in controlling gum disease.

Pertaining to a specific component that is used to hold a removable dental prosthesis in place (partial dentures or removable orthodontic appliances).

When the upper and lower teeth are forceably held together.

Cold sore
Herpes simplex infection resulting in an ulcer or blister on the lip.

Composite Filling
A tooth-colored filling material.

Cosmetic Dentistry
Dental treatment that is solely applied to improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth.

When the normal bite relationship between upper and lower teeth is reversed. This can be uni/bi lateral and can also occur in the front teeth. The lower teeth/tooth align toward the cheek/ lip side more than the upper teeth/tooth.

Pertaining to a type of restoration that covers all of a decayed/damaged or heavily filled tooth. Crowns are usually made of gold, porcelain or a combination of both and are used when a tooth cannot be restored with a filling. Also a term for the portion of the tooth above the gum level covered by enamel.

Crown Lengthening
A surgical procedure used to expose more tooth surface commonly achieved by cutting away any associated gum from around a tooth.

Pertaining to a procedure that entails the scraping of the gums or other diseased tissue (bone) to remove bacteria and any associated infected tissue.

(see canines)

Pertaining to the high points on the biting or chewing surfaces of the canines, premolars or molars.

An encased infection consisting of fluid or semi-solid material.


Pertaining to the loss of calcium from teeth making them weaker and more susceptible to decay.

(See caries)

Deciduous Teeth
(See baby teeth)

Dental Floss
A waxed or unwaxed piece of nylon thread which can be inserted between the teeth and moved in an up/down fashion to clean them (used to remove food particles or plaque from between the teeth).

Dental Hygienist
A trained person employed to provide treatment for the prevention of periodontal diseases by the prescription of a dental surgeon. Treatment includes scaling and polishing in the dental surgery.

Dental Implant
A prosthetic device usually made of titanium that is implanted into the jaw bone to replace an absent tooth root. It can be used to anchor an artificial tooth, crown, bridge or denture.

Inner mineralised layer of a tooth. The crown portion is covered with enamel and the root portion with cementum.

A branch of medicine that involves diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of any disease related to teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures. Performed by a licensed dental surgeon.

The dentition is the teeth and their arrangement in the mouth and may consist of primary teeth/permanent teeth or a combination of both.

A prosthetic replacement for all or some (full or partial denture respectively) of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw. This artificial set of teeth is removable.

Pertaining to a procedure to reduce the sensitivity of teeth. It may be achieved by applying topical agents, root-treating teeth or treatment with lasers.

Pertaining to the process of identifying dental disease.

A space between two teeth. Mid-line/central diastema refers to a space between the two front teeth.

Digital Radiography
The creation and storage of computer generated images of teeth rather than with traditional radiographic films.

Direct Pulp Cap
A procedure where a medicated dental dressing/cement is applied to an exposed pulp. This will insulate and protect the pulp and promote healing and repair via formation of secondary dentine.

Pertaining to the position of a tooth surface furthest away from the midline (junction between central incisors) of the mouth.

Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS)
One of the accredited degrees that is attained by dental school graduates.

Pertaining to the movement of teeth. This movement is uncontrolled and irregular.

Dry Socket
A localized inflammation of the tooth socket after extraction. The symptoms include severe pain, foul odour/taste.



Area in which teeth are absent. This may include an entire dental arch or both dental arches.

The outer mineralized surface of the coronal portion of the tooth (crown).

Root canal treatment is the most common procedure in this field of dentistry. It deals with conditions of the dental pulp and its associated periapical area.

A dental surgeon who specializes in the treatment of conditions related to the pulp and associated root canals.

Pertaining to the breaking through and becoming visible of the teeth into the mouth.

Pertaining to the surgical removal of bone or tissues related to the oral structures.

Pertaining to a bony growth or projection on the surface of a bone in the oral cavity.

Pertaining to the removal of a tooth. This procedure is utilized when a tooth is severely decayed, broken, loose or causing crowding. Extraction of a tooth is a minor oral surgical procedure which may vary in degree or complexity.

Pertaining to the outside of the mouth (beyond the lips).

Pertaining to tooth movement in the direction of eruption. The tooth is mechanically pulled with an orthodontic appliance so that it extends further out of the gum.

(see Canine)


Pertaining to a prosthesis that is fabricated and then cemented/bonded to the visible portion of a tooth. It can be made of acrylic, metal alloy, composite or porcelain.

Pertaining to a material that is used to replace part of a tooth that is decayed, fractured or mal-formed. These materials include metal alloys, porcelain and synthetic resins.

Pertaining to the morphology (shape) of a tooth surface. The recessed area where the grooves of a tooth lie.

Fissure sealant
A synthetic resin type material that is bonded to the biting surface of teeth to seal the decay prone morphology of the teeth (pits, fissures and grooves).

Pertaining to an oro-antral fistula which is an abnormal, epithelial lined communication between the oral cavity and the antral spaces resulting from injury or disease.

Flap Surgery
Surgery involving the cutting/loosening and raising of the gums to expose the underlying tooth structures.

Flipper (spoon denture)
A partial acrylic denture to replace missing front teeth.

(see dental floss)

A chemical compound which is found to strengthen the surface of the teeth to prevent tooth decay. These compounds can be applied directly to the teeth or are found in household water supplies.

Fluoride Treatment
Treatment of teeth with fluoride agents (varnishes/gels/rinses/tablets).

Pertaining to a dental instrument used to extract (pull out) teeth.

Removal of the frenum (a thin cord of tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum, or the tongue to the floor of the mouth). Frenectomy maybe required when the frenal attachments cause gum recession, interfere with dentures or render a patient tongue-tied causing them to lisp.

A thin cord of tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum of the adjacent teeth or the tongue to the floor of the mouth.


General Anaesthesia
A drug induced controlled state of unconsciousness resulting in complete loss of pain sensation throughout the whole body. Also results in an inability to independently respond to physical stimulation or verbal command.

Also referred to as the gums and include the soft tissues that cover the jaw bone up to the necks of the teeth.

The surgical resection/removal of gingival (gum) tissue.

The inflammation of the gum tissue. Caused by plaque and/or tartar accumulation due to ineffective oral hygiene.

A minor oral surgical procedure to reshape and repair the gingival (gum) tissue.

Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR)
A technique which encourages the formation of bone in areas where bone resorption has previously occurred

Gums (see Gingiva)



Bad breath.

The process of controlling and stopping unwanted bleeding.

Hydrogen Peroxide
A chemical agent used in dental procedures such as tooth whitening and is found in some mouth rinses.

(see dental hygienist)


Impacted Tooth
A tooth that remains fully or partially embedded in the bone or gum tissue so that complete eruption is unlikely.

(see dental implant)

Pertaining to a mold taken of the teeth using a material (alginate or silicone) in a preformed dental arch shaped-tray.

The biting/cutting edge of the central and lateral incisors.

Incision and Drainage
Pertaining to the draining of infected tissue (puss) out of a dental/gum abscess by incising the associated swelling with a surgical scalpel.

The four front teeth in each arch (there are two central incisors and two lateral incisors).

Indirect restoration
A two phase restoration. Phase one involves the preparation and impression of the tooth. Phase two involves the fabrication and fitting of the definitive restoration.

A gold, porcelain, or composite restoration that is cemented into the tooth to fill a cavity. It involves a two phase procedure which requires impressions of the prepared cavity, followed by fabrication and fitting of the definitive restoration.

The area/space between two adjacent teeth.

Interproximal Stripping
A procedure that requires removal of enamel tissue from either side of a tooth or adjacent teeth to create space.

The internal portion within the crown of a tooth.

The inside of the mouth.


Tooth surface adjacent the lips.

(see facing)

Lateral Incisors
Two teeth that lie adjacent to the central incisors.

Laughing Gas (inhalation sedation)
Nitrous oxide gas inhaled to relax patients and decrease sensitivity to pain.

The tooth surface adjacent the tongue.

Local anesthetic
A medication with the ability to eliminate the sensation of pain in a localized area. It can be administered topically or via an injection.


Relates to any condition that does not conform to the normal bite relationship of the upper and lower teeth.

The lower jaw.

Pertaining to the lower jaw.

Pertaining to the area at which a prepared tooth structure ends and the restoration of choice begins.

Maryland Bridge
A bridge prosthesis that is bonded or cemented to the minimally prepared surfaces of the adjacent teeth.

The chewing and mixing of food with saliva.

The processing of chewing.

The upper jaw.

Pertaining to the upper jaw.

Pertaining to the position of a tooth surface nearest the midline (junction between the central incisors) of the mouth.

Mixed Dentition
The state when both permanent and deciduous teeth (baby teeth) are simultaneously present in the mouth.

Multi-cusped back teeth used to grind and masticate food.

A removable prosthetic device worn in the mouth. Can be fabricated in a soft or hard acrylic material. Hard and soft acrylic mouthguards can be worn to prevent clenching and grinding of the teeth. Protective sport guards are usually soft and pliable.


Pertaining to the tooth pulp, which consist of the nerve tissue and blood vessels.

Night Guard
A removable acrylic (soft/hard) prosthesis. Worn whilst asleep to prevent the grinding of teeth to relieve joint pain. Aslo known as a occlusal guard.

Nitrous Oxide (inhalation sedation)
(see laughing gas).


The uppermost chewing or grinding surface of a molar and/or premolar tooth.

Occlusal Guard
(see night guard).

Occlusal Plane
The plane created by the occlusal surfaces of the upper and lower teeth when they meet.

The alignment of the upper and lower teeth when they bite together.

A restoration that extends to cover or replace one or more of the cusps of a tooth. It can be fabricated in a precious metal alloy (gold) , porcelain or composite resin.

Open Bite
A malocclusion where the front teeth do not meet on closing.

Oral Hygiene
The maintenance of cleanliness of the mouth via tooth brushing, flossing and rinsing.

Oral Sedation
A medication taken orally to relax the patient.

Oral Surgery
Dental procedures that involve surgery (extraction/cyst removal/apicectomy/biopsy).

A specialised field of dentistry that aims to correct irregularities in the position of teeth and the bite (usually involves the use of braces).

A dental surgeon specialising in the practice of orthodontics.

The vertical degree of overlap between the upper and lower teeth when they meet on closing.

A denture that fits over and completely covers the retained tooth roots or dental implants to enhance retention.

The portion of a restoration that hangs beyond the border of the tooth.

Pertaining to the greatest horizontal distance in the sagittal plane between the upper and lower front teeth when the teeth are in centric occlusion.


A specialised field of dentistry pertaining to the treatment of dental disease in children. Also referred to as paediatric dentistry.

Soft and hard tissues that form the roof or uppermost part of the mouth.

Panoral radiograph
An X-ray that shows all of the teeth and the supporting bony structures on one film.

Partial Denture
A removable prosthesis that replaces one or more missing teeth. It can be fabricated from acrylic only or acrylic supported on a metallic substructure.

Periapical radiograph
An X-ray film that is small enough to show the whole tooth from the crown to the root apex.

An inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the crown of an erupting tooth.

Relating to the tissues that support the teeth (associated gum and bone).

Periodontal Disease
The inflammation and/or infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. Gingivitis and periodontitis are two forms of periodontal disease.

Periodontal Pocket
A pocket that forms when disease and infection destroy the ligament that attaches the gum to the tooth and bone.

Periodontal Surgery
A minor oral surgical procedure involving the gums.

The field of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases affecting the gums, supporting bone, ligaments and surrounding tissues.

A specialist dental surgeon who treats the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.

Inflammation of the supporting structures of the tooth, including the gum, the periodontal ligament and the jaw bone. This advanced form of gum disease can lead to bone loss that will result in tooth mobility or loss if untreated.

Permanent Dentition
The teeth that replace the primary (baby) teeth, also known as secondary teeth. They usually number thirty-two in total.

Permanent Teeth
(see permanent dentition).

Pertaining to a metal/ceramic peg usually threaded, used to aid the retention of a restoration.

Pit (fissures)
(see fissures).

Pertaining to a mixture of bacteria and saliva that attaches to the tooth surface. If not removed it will accumilate causing gum disease and lead to tooth decay.

Pertaining to a process to clean and make smoother both teeth and their restorations.

Pertaining to the false teeth on a bridge prosthesis that replaces a missing tooth.

Porcelain Crown
A full coverage indirect restoration fabricated in porcelain. Can be used to cover a crown of a tooth in order to repair or alter its contour and shade.

Porcelain fused to precious metal (bonded crown)
Pertaining to a crown restoration where the outer covering of porcelain is fused to a precious metal substructure. This makes it stronger than a purely porcelain crown.

Porcelain Inlay
An indirect tooth coloured porcelain restoration used to restore a decayed or malformed tooth surface.

Porcelain Jacket
(see procelain crown)

Porcelain Veneer Restoration
A facing fabricated from porcelain that is bonded to the surface of a tooth to repair it and/or alter its contour and shade.

Pertaining to a preformed or cast metal pin which is inserted into the root-filled, root canal of a tooth to provide a retentive substructure for a definitive restoration.

(see post).

A combination of two structures or a single structure (integral post-crown) consisting of a post-core and crown.

Pertaining to a position in the back of the mouth.

Posterior Teeth
The teeth at the back of the mouth (premolars and molars).

Premolar (bicuspid)
The teeth which lie between the canines and molars having two cusps, they usually number eight in total, two in each quadrant.

Pertaining to a written statement to a pharmacist relating the type, amount and direction of the use of a medication. It can also be a statement indicating the require appliance from a dental technician or the treatment requested by a dentist from dental auxillaries (hygienists/therapists).

Primary Teeth
(see baby teeth).

Pertaining to a pointed instrument used to explore and examine the teeth and restorations.

Pertaining to the cleaning and polishing of teeth.

Relating to a dental appliance/restoration replacing missing teeth and/or their associated structures.

A specialist field of dentistry relating to the design, fabrication and fitting of dental prostheses.

A dental surgeon who specialises in the restoration of teeth and the replacement of missing teeth.

Pertaining to the surface of a tooth adjacent to a dental structure. Hence, the space between adjacent teeth is refered to as the interproximal space.

(see nerve).

Pulp Chamber
The innermost part of a tooth crown, containing the nerve tissue and blood vessels. The root canals are extensions of the pulp chamber.

The removal of the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals.

Inflammation of the pulp.

The removal of the pulp from the pulp chamber.

(see periodontitis).


Pertaining to the division of the mouth into four parts. The quadrants extend from the central incisor to the last molar tooth. There are two in the upper jaw (left side and right side) and two in the lower jaw (left side and right side).


An x-ray film.

Pertaining to the material and/or components used to restore the normal function of a tooth or structure in the mouth (filling bridge/inlay/crown/veneer).

Pertaining to a prothesis/appliance used to maintain the position of teeth in the jaw.

Root Canal Therapy (R.C.T.)
A dental treatment involving the removal of the nerve tissue from within the tooth and tooth roots. The void remaining is then filled with an inert material.

Root Planing
A dental procedure which involves the scraping clean of the teeth and their root surfaces. It aims to aid the re-attachment of the gums to the roots and stabilise the teeth.

Root Resection
A procedure involving the removal of one or more roots (leaving at least one patent root) of a multi-rooted tooth while retaining the crown.


Sagittal plane
Pertaining to a longitudinal vertical plane that divides the mouth along the midline into two halves.

The secretions from the salivary glands that lubricate the oral environment.

Salivary Glands
Glands that are responsible for producing saliva prior to secretion into the mouth.

Pertaining to a tooth-cleaning procedure used to remove plaque, calculus and stains from the teeth.

(see fissure sealant).

Secondary Dentine
The dentine produced as a reaction to pathological irritation. It acts as a protective mechanism to insulate the pulp.

Secondary Teeth
(see permanent dentition).

The use of medication (tablets/intravenous/inhalation) to relax a patient.

Sleep Apnoea
A potentially fatal disorder where a patient may stop breathing repeatedly for more than 10 seconds, whilst asleep.

Space Maintainer
Pertaining to a dental prosthesis/appliance that prevents teeth from moving into the space created through the premature loss of baby teeth.

Pertaining to a dental prosthesis/appliance used to connect two or more teeth together . It is also used as a synonym for an occlusal appliance.

Pertaining to the process of eliminating bacteria and viruses from surfaces and dental equipment.

Subgingival Scaling
The removal of calculus and plaque from the surfaces of teeth below the gum line.

The normal space between the gum tissue and the tooth or the space between the tongue and the tissue forming the floor of the mouth.

Supernumerary Tooth
An extra tooth.

Supra Gingival Scaling
The removal of calculus and plaque from teeth above the gum line.


(see calculus).

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)
A term to used to describe a condition of the temporomandibular joint. It can be characterised by facial pain and restricted ability to open or move the jaw. Symptoms can also manifest themselves as clicking noises or pain in the joint.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
The joint that connects the the base of the skull and lower jaw.

Third Molar (wisdom tooth)
There are usually four third molars, one in each quadrant. These teeth can be absent or impacted.

Tooth Whitening
A treatment to lighten the colour of the teeth.

A common bony growth that is a protuberance of normal bone. It is usually seen on the upper palate behind the front teeth or under the tongue inside the lower jaw.

Trench Mouth
(see ANUG)


Ultrasonic Scaler
Pertaining to devices that utilise high-frequency sound waves to clean teeth.

Unerupted Tooth
A tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct occlusal position.


(see facing).

Vincent’s Disease
(see ANUG)

Virgin Teeth
Unrestored tooth.


(see tooth whitening).

Wisdom Teeth
(see third molars).


A condition of dryness in the mouth caused by a decrease in production of saliva.