Palate – the bone structure covered with tissue on the roof of the mouth.  The palate is fixed to the skull.

Palatal Surface – the surface of the maxillary (upper jaw) teeth nearest to the palate.

Palmer’s Notation – an identification system for teeth, widely used by orthodontists to designate individual teeth.

Panoramic X-Ray (Panorex) – a single, large X-ray taken outside the mouth that shows all the teeth (or no teeth, if the patient is edentulous) on one film.

Partial Denture – For those who have lost some teeth but do not want to get dental implants or bridges, partial dentures are an affordable option. Removable dentures are held in place by the natural teeth, gums, and the connective structure made of plastic and or metal. Learn More

Passive Eruption – the process by which teeth continue to erupt into the mouth as tooth structure is lost to attrition and wear.

Pathogens – disease-producing organisms.

Pathology – the study of abnormal (diseased) tissue conditions.

Pedodontics (PEDO) – the treatment of children’s teeth, also known as pediatric dentistry.

Pellicle – the first step in the formation of plaque; a clear, thin film covering the teeth which contains proteins and lipids (fats) found in the saliva.  This film is formed within seconds after a tooth surface is cleaned.

Periapical – an X-ray that shows the whole tooth, also known as a single film or P.A. image.

Periodontal Abscess – infections of the tooth pulp and tissues surrounding the base of the tooth.

Periodontal Charting – measuring the pocket depth of areas where the gums have detached from the teeth.

Periodontal Disease – a degenerative condition affecting the gums.

Periodontal Ligament – the fibers that suspend the tooth in the bone socket.  Periodontal ligaments are attached at one end to the cementum, and at the other end to the alveolar bone of the socket.

Periodontal Maintenance – the cleaning of the teeth following periodontal treatment.  This includes periodontal charting.

Periodontal Pocket – the space that forms between the gums and teeth when the gums begin to detach due to the effects of periodontal disease.

Periodontal Probe – a dental instrument used to measure pocket depth.

Periocoronitis – an infection of the tissue overlying a partially erupted tooth.  Treatment for this condition involves keeping the area clean and free of bacteria.

Periodontics – the dental specialty that involve the treatment and management of periodontal (gum) disease.

Periodontist – a dentist who specializes in treating gum disease and gum degeneration.  Periodontists are specialists, and have received 2-3 additional years of training following dental school.

Periodontitis – a severe form of periodontal (gum) disease, often resulting in bone deterioration and tooth loss.

Periodontium – the structures that surround and support the teeth.

Permanent Teeth – The teeth that replace the deciduous or primary teeth. Permanent teeth are the replacement of the primary teeth (baby teeth). Permanent teeth are the 2nd and last set of teeth that humans can have during their lifetime. These teeth are more calcified and stronger than the deciduous teeth (baby teeth) because they are designed to function for a lifetime. Learn More

Pit – a pinpoint depression in the occlusal surface of a tooth.

Plaque – a sticky film that accumulates on the teeth.

Pontic – the component of a bridge that replaces the missing teeth or tooth.

Polishing – a dental procedure to remove stains, plaque, and acquired pellicle.  This process uses an abrasive polishing paste in a rubber cup attacked to a slow-speed handpiece.

Polyphyodont – possessing several sets of teeth during a lifespan.

Porcelain – a tooth-colored material, similar to enamel in appearance.  Porcelain is often used in building the visible portions of dental crowns and other restorations.

Porcelain Veneer – an ultra-thin shell of ceramic material, which is bonded to the surface of the teeth or tooth to correct flaws in the smile.

Posterior Teeth – are the back teeth (Bicuspids – Molars). Learn More

Postpalatal Seal – an elevation of material on the back (tissue side) of a denture.

Pregnancy Gingivitis – a type of periodontal (gum) disease characterized by red, swollen gums that occur throughout pregnancy.

Premolars – the two-cusped teeth immediately in front of the molars.

Preventive Dentistry/Preventive Care – procedures performed to aid in preventing the development or worsening of tooth decay and gum disease.

Primary Teeth – also known as baby teeth, deciduous teeth, or primary dentition.  Primary teeth are the first teeth to come in, and aid children in chewing and speaking properly, as well as acting as holding places for the eruption of permanent teeth.

Prophylaxis – a dental cleaning, also known as prophy.

Prosthetics – fixed or removable appliances used to replace missing teeth (bridges, partial dentures, dentures, etc.).

Prosthodontist – a dental specialist who has received three additional years of training in providing dental prosthesis to replace teeth and improve oral health (bridges, dentures, etc.).  Prosthodontic training is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA), and is one of nine recognized areas of dental specialty.

Proximal – nearest to the point of contact; the mesial or distal surfaces of the tooth.

Proximal Surface – the surface of the tooth adjacent to the next tooth; referring to the mesial and distal surfaces.

Pulp Canal – the portion of the pulp within the root.

Pulp Chamber – the portion of the pulp within the tooth.

Pulp Horn – the portion of the pulp chamber that extends towards the cusps of the teeth.

Pulp Tissue – the soft (non-calcified) tissue in the pulp chamber composed of blood vessels and nerves.

Pulpitis – inflammation of the soft tissues within the tooth.