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Bicuspid. Endodontics. Eye Tooth. Why are some of the most common terms in dentistry called by these names and what do they mean? Read more about the origins of these names below:

  • Dentist: This word comes from the French “dente” which means “teeth.”
  • Gums: Gums originates from the old English word, “goma” which means “palate.”
  • Floss: This comes from the French words “soie floche” meaning “floss silk,” which is what floss used to be made of.
  • Endodontics: The word “endo” derives from Greek and means “within.” This branch of dentistry focuses on tissues “within” the teeth.
  • Orthodontics: The word “ortho” derives from Greek and means “straight, correct.” This branch of dentistry uses braces to “correct” a bite by making teeth “straight.”
  • Periodontics: The word “peri” derives from Greek and means “around, surround.” This branch of dentistry deals with the gums which are “around” the teeth.
  • Incisor: This tooth cuts food into pieces, which is why its name derives from “incidere” which is Latin for “to cut.”
  • Eye Tooth: Also known as canine (because of its similar appearance to dog teeth) and cuspid (because it has one cusp, or point), an eye tooth gets its name because it is located below the eye.
  • Bicuspid: These teeth have two (and sometimes three) cusps, which is where they get their name from. They are also called premolars because of their location before the molars.
  • Molars: This tooth grinds food, which is why its name comes from the word “molaris” which is Latin for “grinding.”
  • Wisdom Teeth: Also known at third molars (being located after the first and second molars), wisdom teeth get their name because they come in during young adult years, or during the “age of wisdom.”