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.



pertaining to the root.

Reasonable and Customary (R&C) Plan

a dental benefit plan that determines benefits based only on “Reasonable and Customary” fee criteria. (see Usual Fee, Customary Fee, and Reasonable Fee.)

Reasonable Fee

the fee charged by a dentist for a specific dental procedure that has been modified by the nature and severity of the condition being treated and by any medical or dental complications or unusual circumstances, and therefore may differ from the dentist’s “usual” fee or the benefit administrator’s “customary” fee.


process of refitting a denture by replacing the base material.

Reduced Fee For Services (RFFS)

a dental plan where all services are provided by professional dentists who agree to provide specific treatments and services to patients ar reduced costs. There are no assigned dentists like a DHMO, so patients are free to see any dentist that contracts with that plan. With this freedom of choice patients are however responsible for a larger share of treatment costs.

Regional Block Anesthesia

see Anesthesia.


payment made by a third party to a beneficiary or to a dentist on behalf of the beneficiary, toward repayment of expenses incurred for a service covered by the contractual arrangement.

Reimplantation, Tooth

the return of a tooth to its alveolus.


insurance for third-party payers to spread their risk for losses (claims paid) over a specified dollar amount.

Relative Value System

coded listing of professional services with unit values to indicate relative complexity as measured by time, skill, and overhead costs. Third-party payers typically assign a dollar value per unit to calculate provider reimbursement.


process of resurfacing the tissue side of a denture with new base material.

Removable Partial Denture

a removable partial denture (removable bridge) is a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth that can be removed by the patient.

Resin-based Composite

see Composite.

Retail Store Dentistry

refers to dental services offered within a retail, department or drug store operation. Typically, space is leased from the store by a separate administrative group that, in turn, subleases to a dentist or dental group providing the actual dental services. The dental operation generally maintains the same hours of operation as the store and appointments often are not necessary. Considered to be a type of practice, not a dental benefit plan model.


orthodontic retainer - appliance to stabilize teeth following orthodontic treatment; prosthodontic retainer - a part of a fixed partial denture that attaches a pontic to the abutment tooth, implant abutment, or implant.

Retrograde Filling

a method of sealing the root canal by preparing and filling it from the root apex.

Retrospective Review

a post-treatment assessment of services on a case-by-case or aggregate basis after the services have been performed.

Risk Pool

a portion of provider fees or capitation payments withheld as financial reserves to cover unanticipated utilization of services in an alternative benefit plan.


the anatomic portion of the tooth that is covered by cementum and is located in the alveolus (socket) where it is attached by the periodontal apparatus; radicular portion of tooth; residual root remaining root structure following the loss of the major portion (over 75%) of the crown.

Root Canal

the portion of the pulp cavity inside the root of a tooth; the chamber within the root of the tooth that contains the pulp.

Root Canal Therapy

the treatment of disease and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

Root Planing

a procedure designed to remove microbial flora, bacterial toxins, calculus, and diseased cementum or dentin on the root surfaces and in the pocket.