The following are terms commonly used in dentistry. If you have any questions, please call BeneCare Customer Service at (800) 843-4727.

ABUTMENT The teeth on either side of a missing tooth. Abutments are the part of the bridge used to support the replacement of the missing teeth (pontics).

AMALGAM Silver filling. Amalgams are usually placed on the back teeth (posterior teeth).

ANTERIOR TEETH The front teeth (incisors and cuspids).

ARCH The upper or lower jaw.

BITEWING X-ray that shows the upper and lower teeth's biting surfaces on the same film. This x-ray shows the portion of the teeth above the gumline.

BRIDGE A fixed appliance (prosthesis) that replaces missing teeth. A bridge is a series of crowns (abutments and pontics).

CALCULUS The sticky film on your teeth (plaque) that has hardened. Also known as tartar.

CANAL The narrow chamber inside the root of the tooth that contains the nerve and blood vessels.

COMPOSITE FILLING Tooth colored filling. Insurance companies usually only allow them on the front teeth (anterior teeth). When composites are done on the back teeth (posterior teeth) the insurance company usually pays them as an amalgam. Composites are also known as resin fillings.

CROWN Full coverage for a tooth. Set when the tooth cannot be restored by a filling.

CUSPIDS The third tooth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the front teeth that have one rounded or pointed edge used for biting. Also known as canines.

DENTURE A removable appliance (prosthesis) that replaces all of the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

DEPENDENT Usually the spouse and children of the subscriber.

ENDODONTICS (ENDO) The treatment of diseases or injuries that affect the root tip or nerve of the tooth. The most common procedure that you will deal with is a root canal.

EXCLUSION Services not covered by a dental policy.

FLUORIDE Topical application of a gel or liquid that prevents decay.

FULL MOUTH X-RAYS (F.M.X.) X-rays showing all the teeth. Includes 14 periapicals and 2 or 4 bitewings. Also known as a complete series.

GENERAL ANESTHESIA Relieves the sensation of pain on the whole body. General anesthesia renders you unconscious.

GINGIVA The gums.

IMPACTION An unerupted or partially erupted tooth that will not fully erupt because it is obstructed by another tooth, bone, or soft tissue.

IMPLANT A post that is implanted in the bone. A crown, bridge or denture is then placed over the implant

INCISORS The central and lateral incisor, those are the first and second teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the front teeth with the flat edges for biting.

INLAY A laboratory processed restoration made of metal, acrylic or porcelain. This filling does not involve the high points of the tooth (cusps).

LOCAL ANESTHESIA Relieves the sensation of pain in a localized area.

MANDIBLE The lower jaw.

MAXILLA The upper jaw.

MOLARS The first, second and third molars, those are the sixth, seventh and eighth teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. The back teeth with the large chewing surface on top. They have 4 points (cusps).

NIGHTGUARD A removable acrylic appliance to minimize the effects of grinding the teeth (bruxism) or joint problems (T.M.J.). Usually worn at night to prevent the grinding of teeth or relieve joint pain. Also known as an occlusal guard.

OCCLUSAL The chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

ONLAY A laboratory processed restoration made of metal, porcelain or acrylic that replaces one or more of the highest points of the tooth (cusps).

ORAL SURGERY (O.S.) Surgery of the mouth.

ORTHODONTICS (ORTHO) Straightening of the teeth.

PALATE Roof of the mouth.

PEDODONTICS (PEDO) The treatment of children's teeth.

PERIAPICAL An x-ray that shows the whole tooth (above and below the gumline). Also known as a single film or P.A.

PERIODONTAL MAINTENANCE Cleaning of the teeth following periodontal treatment, includes perio charting. Also known as a perio prophy or perio recall.

PERIODONTICS (PERIO) The treatment of diseases of the gum or bone (supporting structure).

PERMANENT FIRST AND SECOND MOLARS The adult first and second molars, they are the sixth and seventh teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. Does not include the third molar (wisdom tooth).

PLAQUE A sticky film on the teeth. If it is not removed by brushing it can harden into calculus.

PONTIC The part of a bridge that replaces the missing teeth.

POSTERIOR TEETH The back teeth (Bicuspids and molars).

PRIMARY TEETH The baby teeth. Also known as the primary dentition. The baby teeth are replaced by the adult teeth (permanent teeth).

PROPHYLAXIS Cleaning the teeth. Also known as a prophy.

PROSTHETICS A fixed or removable appliance to replace missing teeth. Example: bridges, dentures and partials. Sometimes single crowns are considered prosthetics.

PROSTHODONTICS Dealing with the replacement of missing teeth.

PROVIDER The dentist who renders treatment to the patient.

QUADRANT One of the four equal sections of the mouth. The upper right, upper left, lower right or the lower left.

RESTORATIVE Procedures performed to restore the missing part of the teeth. Some insurance companies only consider the fillings to be restorative, others consider the fillings, crowns, bridges and dentures to be restorative.

ROOT CANAL THERAPY (R.C.T.) The nerve of the tooth is removed from the canal inside the root and replaced with a filling material

ROOT PLANING Deep cleaning of the teeth to remove calculus below the gumline. This is not a prophylaxis. This is a periodontal procedure and is usually performed one quadrant at a time.

SEALANT Clear application of acrylic placed over the biting surface of the tooth to prevent decay. Most insurance companies only allow these on permanent teeth.

SUBSCRIBER The person who carries the dental plan.

TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (T.M.J.) Temporo (temporal bone), mandibular (lower jaw). This is the connecting hinge between the lower jaw and base of the skull. Also known as T.M.J.. T.M.J. treatment is sometimes paid under medical.

WISDOM TOOTH The third molar, this is the eighth tooth from the center of mouth to the back of the mouth. Wisdom teeth are often impacted (obstructed from erupting) and have to be extracted.


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