Dental Terminology

Click on a letter for the list of terms beginning with that letter. This glossary contains a list of words or terms that may help you get a handle on the world of dental care.


Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

a legal entity that accepts responsibility and financial risk for providing specified services to a defined population during a defined period of time at a fixed price. An organized system of health care delivery that provides comprehensive care to enrollees through designated providers. Enrollees are generally assessed a monthly payment for heath care services and may be required to remain in the program for a specified amount of time.


surgical separation of a multi-rooted tooth.


made up of tissue not normal to the part.


the study of disease processes at the cellular level.

Hold Harmless Clause

a contract provision in which one party to the contract promises to be responsible for liability incurred by the other party. Hold harmless clauses frequently appear in the following contexts: 1) Contracts between dental benefit organizations and an individual dentist often contain a promise by the dentist to reimburse the dental benefit organization for any liability the organization incurs because of dental treatment provided to beneficiaries of the organization’s dental benefit plan. This may include a promise to pay the dental benefit organization’s attorney fees and related costs; and 2) Contracts between dental benefit organizations and a group plan sponsor may include a promise by the dental benefit organization to assume responsibility for disputes between a beneficiary of the group plan and an individual dentist when the dentist’s charge exceeds the amount the organization pays for the service on behalf of the beneficiary. If the dentist takes action against the patient to recover the difference between the amount billed by the dentist and the amount paid by the organization, the dental benefit organization will take over the defense of the claim and will pay any judgments and court costs.


see Graft.