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.


Table of Allowances

a list of covered services with an assigned dollar amount that represents the total obligation of the plan with respect to payment for such service, but does not necessarily represent the dentist’s full fee for that service. Also known as schedule of allowances, indemnity schedule.

Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA):

legislation (Public Law 97-248) affecting health maintenance organizations and the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Provides regulations for the development of HMO risk contracting with the Medicare program and, through amendment, established new provisions for the foundation and operation of peer review organizations.

Temporary Removable Denture

an interim prosthesis designed for use over limited period of time.

Temporomandibular (TMJ)

the connecting hinge mechanism between the base of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jaw (mandible).

Temporomandibular Joint Disfunction

abnormal functioning of temporomandibular joint; also refers to symptoms arising in other areas secondary to the disfunction.

Termination Date

see Expiration Date.

Third Party

the party to a dental benefit contract that may collect premiums, assume financial risk, pay claims, and/or provide other administrative services. Also known as administrative agent, carrier, insurer, underwriter.

Third-Party Administrator (TPA)

claims payer who assumes responsibility for administering health benefit plans without assuming any financial risk. Some commercial insurance carriers and Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans also have TPA operations to accommodate self-funded employers seeking administrative services only (ASO) contracts.

Third-Party Payer

an organization other than the patient (first party) or health care provider (second party) involved in the financing of personal health services.

Tissue Conditioning

material intended to be placed in contact with tissues, for a limited period, with the aim of assisting the return to a healthy condition.


a bony elevation or protuberance of bone; see Exostosis.


relating to a passage or change from one position, state, phase or concept to another.

Transplantation of Tooth

transfer of a tooth from one socket to another, either in the same or a different person.


through or across a septum.


restricted ability to open the mouth, usually due to inflammation or fibrosis of the muscles of mastication.