Did your dentist say you needed endodontic therapy, and you have no idea what it is? Did you receive a postcard saying it’s time to come in for your prophylaxis…

Guide to Some Common Dental Terms

Did your dentist say you needed endodontic therapy, and you have no idea what it is?

Did you receive a postcard saying it’s time to come in for your prophylaxis treatment, but you’re not sure if that’s something you need?

Sure, you know what a denture or a filling is, but some terms are just a little less familiar. This handy guide has some of the most common dental terms and what they mean – in plain language.

Abscess

A pocket of pus on an infected tooth often due to infection in the tooth pulp

Bitewing X-Ray

A dental x-ray of upper or lower teeth to examine for any decay under the gums and between the teeth

Bridge

A set of pontics (prosthetic teeth) and crowns that replaces missing teeth and is non-removable

Crown

An artificial replacement for the covering on a tooth; a cap placed over a weak, decayed tooth

Endodontics

The treatment of infected root canals and diseases of the tooth pulp (also called endodontic therapy or simply “root canal”)

Gingivectomy

Surgery to remove parts of the gum that are diseased or inflamed

Osseous Surgery

Repair of teeth-supporting bone structure affected by severe gum disease

Periapical

Dental x-ray of individual teeth or groups of teeth

Pontic

A prosthetic tooth in a bridge

Prophylaxis

A normal cleaning that treats stains, plaque and tartar

Pulpotomy

Partial to complete removal of damaged tooth pulp due to pain, often necessitating a root canal to save the tooth

Scaling and Root Planing

A deep, thorough cleaning to halt disease and stop inflammation of tooth surfaces below the gum line. This process often spans several visits and requires local anesthetic.

Did we miss anything? Is there another treatment you are wondering about?

17 Comments
  1. Question ? my son jonathan needs to be sedated for an upcoming dentist visit. The anastecialogist charges $1,130 to sedated him, is their any options through Aetna Dental??

    Johnny D.

    • Thank you for messaging us! You would need to talk with your dentist to see what their specific office has contracted with us. Some anesthesias are discounted, but it usually will depend on the specific dental office.

    • Yes, our discount dental plans do cover surgery. If you go to our fee schedule on our plans page and look under “Oral Surgery/Tooth Extractions,” you’ll see what tooth extractions typically cost without dental insurance or a discount dental plan and what they would cost with our discount dental plan. You’ll need to go to a dentist in our network to get the discounts, but we have a lot of providers, so you’ll be able to search for one in your area. If you have further question, feel free to give us a call at 800-372-7615.

  2. My Careington dentist charges one fee for the crown replacement work then he adds another fee for the crown buildup. Does it sound right or is there only one fee for the crown work?

    • The crown replacement and the crown buildup removal are two separate procedures, so they are two separate fees. As long as your dentist is charging the correct fees from the fee schedule, then it should be right!

    • Hi Karen,

      Root planing is merely a deep cleaning of the roots of the teeth while osseous surgery is a procedure performed to repair the bone of the tooth. Hope that helps!

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