Terminology and Explanations

Terminology and Explanations

Dental Terms Everyone Should Know

Have you ever been on the phone, and the potential customer uses a term that you just don’t understand?

Having a handle on these words and phrases will allow you to confidently speak with dentists, technicians and your team !

Here are dental phrases and terminology that you should know.


  • STL File: STL (an abbreviation of "stereolithography") is a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems. It has become a reference file format in 3D Printig and CAM. Readable by all systems - similar to jpeg in digital photography.

  • PLY File: PLY is a computer file format known as the Polygon File Format or the Stanford Triangle Format. It was principally designed to store three-dimensional data from 3D scanners. 
    PLY are well-known and widely used for their ability to store colour and texture along with other details.

Scan Body or Scan Marker: A device that attaches to the implant body before scanning, providing for the exact position of the implant in the scanned model.

DICOM: (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is the standard for the communication and management of medical imaging information and related data. DICOM enables the integration of scanners, servers, workstations, printers, and network hardware from multiple manufacturers into a picture archiving and communication system (PACS).

CAD: (computer-aided design) is the process of designing dental restorations on a computer.

CAM: (Computer Aided Manufacturing) is the process of manufacturing dental restorations that have been designed on a computer.

Dongle: Hardware, often the size of a thumb drive, required to
run a specific software package.

Mesh: A general term used to describe the surface referencing
of a scanned point cloud resulting in a 3D object typically
composed of triangular faces. For example, lower jaw scan is a mesh.

Milling: The process of machining dental restorations from solid block using rotary cutters (burs) to remove material.

Pre-Op: (pre-operative scan) 

Tooth Library: A collection of scanned teeth used as the starting point for a CAD design.