Glossary of Terms


Analgesia – the diminution or elimination of pain.

Anxiolysis – the diminution or elimination of anxiety.

Anesthesia Period – that period of time beginning with the placement of a needle, mask, or solution into or onto the body until the patient has regained sufficient reflexes to be transferred to the recovery area.

Minimal Sedation (anxiolysis)/Local Anesthesia – A drug-induced state during which patients respond normally to verbal commands. The elimination of sensation, especially pain, in one part of the body by the topical application or regional injection of a drug.

Moderate Sedation(Analgesia)/Conscious Sedation – a minimally depressed level of consciousness that retains the patient’s ability to independently and continuously maintain an airway and appropriately respond to physical stimulation and verbal command and that is produced by a pharmacological or non-pharmacological method or a combination thereof.

Deep Sedation(Analgesia)/ General Anesthesia – A drug-induced state of depressed consciousness accompanied by partial loss of protective reflexes, including the inability to continually maintain an airway independently and/or to respond purposefully to physical stimulation or verbal command, and is produced by a pharmacological or non pharmacological method or a combination thereof.

Anesthesia Parenteral – a route of administration for an agent that bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. It includes injections, inhalation, and topical routes.

Enteral – a route of administration for an agent that is placed directly into the gastrointestinal tract from which absorption occurs across the entire membrane. It includes oral and rectal administration.


Algorithm – a step-by-step process for solving a specific health problem.

Clinical Indicator – an instrument that measures a quantifiable aspect of patient care and can be used as a guide to monitor and evaluate the quality and/or appropriateness of patient care. Not a direct measure of quality, a clinical indicator is merely a “flag” indicating areas for more detailed analysis. All variances in indicator data do not necessarily indicate a “problem.”

Clinical Pathway – a plan of treatment describing all scheduled interventions for a specific group of patients.

Continual – that which is repeated regularly and frequently in steady succession.

Continuous – that which is prolonged without any interruption at any time.

Critical Pathway – a plan that contains only the few vital clinical interventions proven to affect either the clinical or financial outcome of a specific group of patients.

Erupted Third Molar – a molar so positioned that the entire clinical crown is visible.

Exarticulated Tooth – a tooth that has been completely displaced out of its socket (complete avulsion).

Impacted Tooth – one that cannot erupt into normal position or function and is considered to be pathologic.

Impacted Third Molar – one that is so positioned that it will probably not erupt by the middle of the third decade and constitutes pathology with dental and medical consequences. To limit known risks and complications associated with surgery, it is medically appropriate and surgically prudent to remove impacted third molars before the middle of the third decade and prior to complete root development. An impacted tooth with completed root formation that is totally covered by bone in a patient beyond the third decade that does not meet the aforementioned indications for removal should be monitored for change in position and/or development of pathology, which may then indicate removal.

Luxated Tooth – a tooth that is dislocated or displaced from the alveolus.

Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction – a collective term embracing a number of clinical problems that involve the masticatory musculature.

Partially Erupted Third Molar Tooth – a molar that is so positioned that only a portion of the clinical crown is visible.

Qualified Personnel – individuals with training and credentials to perform specific tasks.

Quality of Care – the degree to which patient-care services increase the probability of desired patient outcomes and reduce the probability of undesired outcomes, given the current state of knowledge.

Risk Factor – a condition that may alter the manner in which a patient is managed and/or the outcome.

Standard of Care – that care provided to a patient that meets the therapeutic goals and maximizes the desirable and minimizes the undesirable outcomes, based on the current state of knowledge.

Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) – a collective term embracing a number of clinical problems that involve the masticatory musculature, the temporomandibular joint, or both. The term is synonymous with Craniomandibular Disorders (CMD).

Therapeutic Goal – that which a patient should reasonably expect following the management of his or her condition.

Unerupted Third Molar Tooth – an embedded tooth that will probably erupt by the middle of the third decade.


Initial Licensure – The first time a candidate applies for and receives a dental license. The candidate does not hold a dental license in another jurisdiction at the time of application.

Licensure by Credentials – In granting licensure by credentials, a state board of dentistry determines that the candidate is currently licensed in another jurisdiction, has practiced for a minimum specified amount of time prior to application (usually five years) and that the state has licensure standards equivalent to the one where licensure by credentials is being sought. If the candidate meets all required criteria, licensure examinations are not necessary and a license is granted.

Reciprocity – Licensure by reciprocity refers to a situation in which a jurisdiction has authority to grant licensure only to licensees of states that do likewise to their licensees. Such decisions are based on formal agreements between state boards. Today, the majority of states grant licensure by credentials versus having reciprocal agreements with other states.

Regulation – a rule or order issued by an executive authority or regulatory agency of a government (e.g. dental board) and having force of law.

Statute – a law enacted by the legislative branch of a government (i.e. state legislature). The dental practice act is an example of a statute.

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