Root Canal and Endodontic Glossary of Terms


Abrasion - Tooth wear caused by holding objects between the teeth or improper brushing.

Alveolectomy - Operation removing portions of the alveolar bone.

Alveolar Bone - Bone surrounding the root of the tooth.

Alveolar Crest - Highest part of the alveolar bone.

Alveolar Eminence - Root outline of the facet portion of the bone.

Alveolar Process - Part of the mandible or maxilla surrounding a tooth root.

Alveolus - Bony socket where a tooth root sits.

Anatomical crown - Part of the tooth covered with enamel.

Apicoectomy - Procedure of removing the tip of a tooth root, which may also involve removing inflamed or infected tissue.

Articulating paper - Carbon paper placed between the upper and lower teeth to mark contact


Bicuspid - A premolar tooth; Back teeth used for chewing.

Bitewing Radiographs - X-rays used to reveal the crowns of several upper and lower teeth.

Bonding - Covering a tooth surface to correct stained or damaged teeth.

Bruxism - Constant grinding or clenching of teeth.


Calculus - Hard deposits of mineralized material that stick to crowns and roots of teeth.

Canal - Narrow tubular passage or channel

Caries – Refers to tooth decay.

Cavity – Area of decay in the tooth.

Cementum – Dull yellow, hard connective tissue covering the tooth root.

Contact area – Tooth surface that touches the adjacent tooth

Crown – Fully covering a tooth when it cannot be restored by a filling

Cusp - Pointed portion of the tooth.

Custom tray – Custom-made tray to fit a patient's mouth.


Debridement - Treating a bacterial infection by removing irritants from the periodontal pocket

Decay - Lesions in a tooth or decomposition of tooth structure.

Dental Prophylaxis - Scaling and polishing procedure to remove plaque, calculus, and stains.

Dental Prosthesis - An artificial device that replaces one or more missing teeth.

Dental Specialist - Dentist who has received postgraduate training in one of the recognized dental specialties, DDS or DMD

Dentin Part of the tooth beneath the enamel and cementum.

Dilaceration - Abnormal tooth that has a twisted crown and root.

Dry Socket - Inflammation of the tooth socket after extraction due to infection or loss of blood clot.


Edentulous - Toothless.

Enamel - Hard calcified tissue covering the dentin of the tooth crown.

Endodontist - Dental specialist who specifically treats disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

Erosion - Wearing down of the tooth by acids.

Eruption - When a tooth emerges through the gums.

Extraction - Removing a tooth or tooth part.

Endodontics - A sub-specialty of dentistry that deals with tooth pulp or dentine complex. The most common procedure done in endodontics is root-canal therapy.


Facial - Outer tooth surface that rests against the cheeks or lips

Filling – Refers to restoring lost tooth structure by using materials like metal, alloy, plastic or porcelain.

Full mouth x-rays - x-rays showing all the teeth

Furcation - Area where the root divides


General anesthesia - Relieves sensation of pain

Gingiva - Soft tissue covering the crowns of un-erupted teeth and circling the necks of those that have erupted.

Gingivitis - Inflammation of gingival tissue.

Goldon proportion - Guidelines used by dentists to determine the most esthetic appearance of a particular tooth.

Gutta-percha - A natural inelastic latex produced from tropical trees native to Southeast Asia and northern Australasia that is used for padding inside fillings or root canals because it does not react within the human body.


Hypersensitivity – Sharp or sudden painful reaction in teeth when exposed to hot, cold, chemical, mechanical or sweet or salty stimuli


Impacted Tooth - An un-erupted or partially erupted tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue making complete eruption unlikely.

Implantation - Placement of an artificial or natural tooth into an alveolus.

Interproximal – Refers to between the teeth.


Jaw – Refers to the maxilla or the mandible.


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Latera - To the side

Lesion - Injury or wound or area of diseased tissue.

Lingual - Surface of a tooth closest to the tongue


Malocclusion - Improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.

Maxilla - Upper jaw.

Molar Teeth – Teeth on either side of the back of the jaw that have large crowns and broad chewing surfaces; Also known as the grinding teeth.


Neuron - Nerve cell


Ocolusa – Refers to the to the biting surfaces of the premolar and molar teeth.

Occlusion - Contact between biting and chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.


Plaque - Soft sticky substance composed of bacteria, which accumulates on teeth.

Prophylaxis - Scaling and polishing procedure that removes coronal plaque, calculus and stains.

Pulp - Connective tissue that contains blood vessels and nerve tissue that occupies the inner part of the tooth.

Pulp Canal - Portion of pulp in the root

Pulp Cavity - Space inside a tooth that contains the pulp.

Pulp Chamber – Part of the pulp in the tooth crown

Pulp Horn – Part of the pulp chamber that extends towards the cusp

Pulp Tissue - Soft tissue in the pulp chamber composed of blood vessels and nerves

Pulpectomy - Complete removal of pulp tissue from the root canal space.

Pulpotomy - Surgical removal of a portion of the pulp intending to maintain the vitality of remaining pulp.


Quadrant – One of four equal sections in the mouth; upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left


Radiograph - Also known as an X-ray.

Restorations - Replacement for lost tooth structure or teeth

Root - Portion of the tooth that is underneath the crown and gums.

Root Canal - Part of the pulp cavity inside the tooth root; the chamber in the tooth root that contains the pulp

Root Canal Therapy - Treatment of disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

Root Caries - Tooth decay on the roots.

Root Planing - A procedure that removes bacterial toxins, calculus, and diseased cementum or dentin on the root surfaces and in the pocket.


Scaling - Scraping teeth above the gums to remove plaque, calculus and stains from teeth.

Sealants - Plastic resin put on molar biting surfaces to prevent bacteria from attacking the enamel and causing caries.

Socket - A cavity in the bone; Also known as Alveolus


Tartar - Hard calcium formed on teeth and dentures; Also known as calculus

Temporomandibular joint – Connecting hinge between the lower jaw and base of the skull; Also known as TMJ.

Temporomandibular joint disorder - Acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint which results in significant pain and impairment

Tooth Abcess - Collection of infected material caused by a bacterial infection in the pulp of a tooth.


Un-erupted - Teeth that have not penetrated the oral cavity.

Universal Precautions - Universal safety measures take to prevent infectious diseases when caring for a patient including; use of protective wear, such as gloves, masks and eyewear; discarding of gloves and hands washed after a patient leaves, using new gloves donned for the next patient.


Veneer – A layer of tooth-colored material composed of composite, porcelain, ceramic or acrylic resin that is attached to the tooth usually during the construction of crowns.


Wisdom Tooth - Third molar; the eighth tooth from the center of mouth


Xerostomia – A decrease in saliva that can produce a dry and sometimes burning sensation in the mouth.

X-Ray – Also known as a Radiograph.

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No Terms