Dental Terminology Cheat Sheet

**Please note: this is not a full list of dental terminology. Students will be tested on a wider variety of terms.

Dental science, like any other field of medicine, has a vast amount of its own unique terms. Like other medical terminology, dental terms are best learned by breaking them down into their component parts. Dental terminology has three basic parts (not all of which are used in every word): the prefix, root, and suffix.

Common Dental Terms Defined

  1. Apicoectomy – Root: Apical (root). Suffix: -ectomy  (surgery).
  •  Meaning: Root end surgery.
  1. Bicuspid – Prefix: Bi – (two). Root: Cuspid (having a cusp).
  • Meaning: Tooth that has two cusps; a premolar tooth.
  1. Bleaching – Root: Bleach (whiten, clean). Suffix: -ing.
  • Meaning: Procedure that whitens teeth using a bleach solution.
  1. Bonding – Root: Bond (place, join). Suffix: -ing.
  • Meaning: Procedure that Places dental resin to fill, fix, or change tooth shape and/or color.
  1. Calculus – Root: Calc (calcium). Suffix: -ulus (small; little)
  • Meaning: Small calcium deposits or tartar adhering to crowns and/or roots of teeth.
  1. Caries – Root: Cari (rottenness). Suffix: -es.
  • Meaning: Tooth decay or rotting. A dental cavity; having a hole in a tooth or teeth.
  1. Cementum – Root: Cement. Suffix: -um (structure, tissue).
  • Meaning: The surface layer or structure of the tooth root covering the dentine.
  1. Decay – Prefix: De- (lack of, removal of). Root: cay.
  • Meaning: The breaking down or lack of teeth.
  1. Dentin – Root: Dent (Tooth). Suffix: -in (a substance, chemical, chemical compound).
  • Meaning: Calcified inner layer of the teeth covered by the enamel.
  1. Denture – Root: Dent (Tooth). Suffix: -ure (act, process: function).
  • Meaning: An artificial substitute for natural teeth. False teeth.
  1. Enamel – Root: En (in; within). Suffix: -amel.
  • Meaning: Hard outer covering of the crown of the tooth.
  1. Gingivitis – Root: Gingiv (gum). Suffix: -itis (inflammation).
  • Meaning: Inflammation of the gums.
  1. Gingivoplasty – Root: Gingivo (gum). Suffix: -plasty (repair, form, grow).
  • Meaning: Reshaping or reforming of the gum to correct deformities.
  1. Intraoral – Prefix: Intra – (within). Root: oral (pertaining to the mouth).
  • Meaning: Within the mouth.
  1. Periodontitis – Prefix: Peri – (around).  Root: odont (tooth). Suffix: -itis (inflammation).
  • Meaning: Inflammation of supporting structures around the teeth.
  1. Prophylaxis – Prefix; Pro – (before; forward).  Root: phylaxis (protection).
  • Meaning: To prevent disease of the teeth with a series of procedures. Preventive measure.
  1. Radiograph – Root: Radio (x-rays). Suffix: -graph (instrument for recording).
  • Meaning: An image produced with the usage of x-ray radiation.
  1. Remineralization – Prefix: Re- (back; again; backwards). Root: mineralization (to supply with mineral substances).
  • Meaning: Development or redevelopment of minerals that restore the teeth to its original state.
  1. Supragingival – Prefix: Supra- (above). Root: gingiv (gum). Suffix: -al (pertaining to)
  • Meaning: Pertaining to above the margin of the gums.
  1. Xerostomia – Prefix: Xero- (dry). Root: stomia (condition of the mouth)
  • Meaning: Dry mouth.

The task of trying to memorize every single term may seem daunting at first. Breaking down the term by the prefix, root, and suffix will help make things a lot easier. We hope these simple grammar rules have helped you master dental vocabulary. Good luck and study hard!

Are you interested in joining the dental field but aren’t sure where to begin? Milwaukee Career College has the training you need to succeed in the dental field. MCC offers training to help you get started as a Dental Assistant! Contact us to learn more.

Dental Cheet Sheet with Terms



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