Glossary | Renovo Endodontic Studio

Glossary of Terms

Here’s a helpful guide for our more technical terms and definitions.



If a bacterial infection in the mouth is not treated, it can evolve into a pocket of pus called an abscess. Abscesses can occur in the gums, called a periodontal abscess, or directly in the root of a tooth. Bacteria can enter the tooth through cavities, chips or cracks in the tooth. The infection will cause inflammation in the root of the tooth, which can turn into an abscess. If you consume a lot of sugar, have dry mouth, or do not practice good dental hygiene, then you are at a higher risk of developing a dental abscess.

Abscess symptoms may include:

    1. A throbbing toothache
    2. Tooth sensitivity to temperature or pressure
    3. Pain or swelling in your face or cheek
    4. General signs of an infection, such as a fever or swollen lymph nodes

If you are experiencing pain that suddenly subsides accompanied with a foul-tasting fluid in your mouth, you may have had an abscess that just ruptured. It is still important to see a dental professional, as your tooth and/or gums are still infected.

To minimize the risk of developing a tooth abscess, take great care of your oral health to avoid tooth decay. In addition to visiting your dentist regularly, you should:

    1. Drink water with fluoride and use fluoride toothpaste
    2. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once daily
    3. Replace your toothbrush when the bristles become frayed
    4. Limit sugary snacks


A substance that produces insensitivity to pain.


An apicoectomy is an endodontic microsurgical procedure used to save an infected tooth that has already received a traditional root canal. Although a root canal is a more common procedure for saving teeth, sometimes the tooth is too infected for a root canal alone to be effective. Your endodontist may be able to determine this right away through an evaluation, but sometimes it only becomes clear that an apicoectomy is needed after you have a root canal treatment and the infection does not go away.


In other cases, a tooth that received a root canal previously may present with a recurring infection. While your endodontist can often redo the root canal (a procedure called endodontic retreatment) with a high success rate, an apicoectomy procedure may be recommended instead if the infection is too large for retreatment to be effective, or if the tooth has extensive restorations on it that should not be disturbed.


In this minor surgery, the tip of your tooth’s root is removed and sealed. The procedure gets its name from “apico-,” referring to the apex, or tip, of the root, and “-ectomy,” meaning removal. This is usually a last resort before completely removing a tooth.


During an apicoectomy, your endodontist will:

  1. Use local anesthesia to numb the area
  2. Make an incision in your gum near the problem tooth to expose the bone
  3. Remove any tissue that is inflamed or infected
  4. Remove the tip of the root
  5. Seal the end of the root canal with a small filling
  6. Close the gum tissue with a few resorbable stitches to help it heal properly


You may experience some initial discomfort and swelling, but you should be able to return to your normal activities the day after the procedure. In the months following the procedure, the bone will heal around the end of the root. Follow your endodontist’s post-operative instructions to ensure your recovery goes as quickly and effectively as possible.


Bite test

Diagnostic procedure in which a tooth suspected of being cracked is subjected to differential occlusal forces on individual cusps in an attempt to replicate the reported discomfort; usually accomplished by having the patient bite on various plastic, wood or rubber objects.

Board-certified endodontist

As defined by the American Board of Endodontics, an endodontist who has satisfied all requirements of the certification process of the ABE, has been declared Board-certified by the directors of the ABE and maintains Board certifications. This individual is a Diplomate of the ABE.


Canal, pulp (root canal)

A passage or channel in the root of the tooth extending from the pulp chamber to the apical foramen; may be narrow, have lateral branches and/or exhibit irregular morphology.

Cone beam-computed tomography (CBCT)

Three-dimensional diagnostic computer image from a cone-shaped beam for evaluating teeth and supporting structures.

Core buildup

A restoration used to replace missing coronal tooth structure in a root-filled tooth.

Cracked tooth

A thin surface disruption of enamel and dentin, and possibly cementum, of unknown depth or extension.


Dental bone graft

What is a dental bone graft, and why would you need one?

A dental bone graft is a minor surgical procedure to replace missing bone that has eroded, or “resorbed,” as a result of tooth loss or gum disease. They are usually performed to save teeth that are at risk of being lost or to ensure there is enough bone available to perform a successful dental implant.


What different kinds of dental bone grafts are there?

There are four different types of bone grafts, each made out of a different material:

  1. Autograft: the donor bone is your own bone, typically from your hip or jawbone
  2. Allograft: the donor bone is from a human donor
  3. Xenograft: the donor bone is from an animal, typically a cow
  4. Alloplast: the donor bone is a synthetic material containing calcium, phosphorous and hydroxylapatite


Most dental bone graft procedures range from $200 to $1,200 depending on the material used. Since autografts require an extra procedure to retrieve the donor bone material, hospitalization is usually required and the process can cost over $3,000.


What can you expect with a dental bone graft procedure?

A dental bone graft is a simple procedure that involves making an incision in your gum and injecting grafting material in the form of granules, powder, putty, or gel. To allow the bone to repair and rebuild, the incision site is usually covered with a collagen membrane. Usually local anesthetic to numb the area is all that is needed. Since bone grafts use a part of the bone that contains no living cells, the risk of your body rejecting the material is low.


For a few days after the procedure you may experience some soreness that can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. Within three to six months, a solid mass of your own bone will have formed around the grafted material. If an additional procedure is needed, such as a dental implant, it can occur after this time.

Dental emergency

What’s a dental emergency?

A dental emergency is an issue involving the teeth and supporting tissues that needs to be treated by specially trained professionals. In these situations, patients require immediate attention to prevent the risk of serious medical complications or long-term dental complications.

Some classic dental emergencies are the result of mouth injuries such as cracked, fractured, broken, or knocked-out teeth. However, other medical emergencies in dentistry are not as visible. Some people may be dealing with extreme tooth pain from an abscess or inflamed gums.

Where to go for a dental emergency

When dealing with dental emergencies, immediately contact your dentist or endodontic office. At Renovo, we have a 24-hour emergency office policy, wherein we make every possible effort to schedule you for the same day or within 24 hours should a dental emergency occur. Contact any of our eight locations to address your dental needs.

Dental extraction

Dental extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. There are several situations where tooth removal is a necessity. Sometimes tooth damage can be salvaged and fixed with a filling or crown. Other times, the damage is so severe that a tooth cannot be saved and needs to be removed. Some of the most common scenarios and reasons for dental extraction are:

  1. Decay: when advanced or repeated decay (dental caries, or “cavities”) is so severe that removal is the only option
  2. Infection: when pain, swelling, bleeding, pus, and bone loss are so advanced that a tooth cannot be saved
  3. Injury: when a sports injury or other trauma has damaged a tooth
  4. Risk of infection: when your immune system is compromised due to other health issues or procedures
  5. Gum disease: when periodontal disease affects a tooth or its roots
  6. Pain: when a tooth causes you severe pain, and other treatments have proven ineffective
  7. Crowded mouth: when misalignment of the teeth leads to overcrowding so that other, healthy teeth cannot perform their normal functions
  8. Other procedures: sometimes teeth need to be removed to perform other dental treatments such as orthodontic work or wisdom teeth removal

In these situations, a dentist can remove a tooth to relieve pain, prevent further dental infection, and help you achieve the smile you want. After you receive a tooth extraction, your dentist can discuss tooth replacement options, such as dental implants, if your case warrants them.

Dental implant

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are a long-term treatment modality for tooth replacement. Although our main focus at Renovo Endodontic Studio is to save your natural teeth, there are some situations which make it unfavorable to save a tooth. Frequently these teeth can be replaced with a dental implant. Dental implants are metal posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums. The implant then provides a sturdy foundation to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge or denture. Because implants fuse to the jawbone, they won’t slip or shift. Some of the improvements that dental implants can provide include:

  1. Appearance and oral health
  2. Better speech and function
  3. Durability and predictability
  4. Restored function and bite stability
  5. Overall self-confidence

How do dental implants work?

After the base implant has been placed and healed into the jawbone, the surgeon will then fit a connector called an abutment into the top of the implant. Lastly, a custom-made crown is placed on top of the connector and firmly attached to match your natural teeth and sit comfortably in your mouth.

How much do dental implants cost?

The cost of dental implants varies from patient to patient because each procedure is customized to the individual. The total cost depends on many different factors such as the specifics of the procedure, the number and location of implants needed, insurance type, geographic location and more. According to The New York Times, the average cost to replace a single tooth with a dental implant is estimated to be in the range of $3,000 to $4,500. Other teeth replacement options may have lower upfront costs, but dental implants are often the most effective treatment and solution in the long run.

If you are a good candidate for a dental implant procedure, our team will be more than happy to discuss options with you.

Dental pulp test

A clinical and diagnostic aid used in dentistry to help establish the health of the dental pulp within the pulp chamber and root canals of a tooth.



What’s an endodontist?

Endodontics is the specialty of dentistry that addresses oral diseases and injuries that affect the soft tissue within the tooth and its surrounding structures. This tissue is commonly referred to as the dental pulp or the “nerve.”

What does an endodontist do?

To understand endodontic therapy, it helps to understand the general anatomy of the tooth. There are three layers:

  1. Enamel: outermost layer made up of a highly mineralized structure
  2. Dentin: layer underneath the enamel that is less mineralized
  3. Pulp: a combination of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that extends from the root tip to the crown and supports the overlying tooth structures

Endodontists are specialists who undergo two to three years of post-graduate training to evaluate, diagnose, and treat tooth pain associated with the pulp layer of the tooth. The treatments and procedures they perform, such as root canals, focus on the interior of the tooth. According to the American Association of Endodontists, “in many cases, a diseased tooth can be saved with endodontic treatment. For this reason, endodontists proudly refer to themselves as specialists in saving teeth.”

Endodontist vs. dentist

Endodontists don’t do regular dental cleanings or fillings; they focus solely on relieving tooth pain. According to the American Association of Endodontists, an endodontist completes an average of 25 root canal treatments a week. General dentists usually perform one or two. You go to a dentist for regular teeth cleanings and overall oral health, whereas endodontists are for more serious and specialized treatments of the mouth.


Guided tissue regeneration

A surgical procedure that uses barrier membranes to direct the growth of new bone and gingival tissue at sites with insufficient volumes or dimensions of bone or gingiva for proper function, esthetics or prosthetic restoration.


HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

A law, effective April 2003, that implemented standards intended to streamline the flow of information integral to the operation of the health



How does a tooth infection form?


  1. A tooth must first be chipped, broken or decaying. Decay happens when acid from sugar and acid made from plaque eat away at the tooth’s enamel
  2. Bacteria enters the tooth through the damaged section
  3. Bacteria reaches the center of the tooth and reproduces, causing the tooth to become infected
  4. Pus accumulates in tooth and swells. This is known as an abscess


Abscesses can form in different locations. When an abscess is located at the tip of the root, it is called a periapical abscess. A periodontal abscess occurs on the gum next to the root. This type can also spread to nearby bone and tissue.


How do you know if you have a dental infection?

A dental infection starts as a toothache and can be accompanied with swelling, fever, bad breath, and a bad taste in your mouth. If left untreated, a dental infection can spread to the rest of your body and even lead to sepsis. If you believe you may have an infected tooth, contact your dentist or endodontist right away. The most common treatment for an infected tooth is a root canal.


The cellular and vascular response of tissues to injury.

Informed consent

An agreement by the patient to have treatment rendered by the provider after the risks of the treatment, the results of no treatment, the alternatives to treatment and prognoses have been explained.



To fill the shaped and debrided canal space with a temporary or permanent filling material.


Traumatic dental fracture

A split or break in bone, cartilage or tooth structure from injury.