Get your "Brush-up" on Dental Terms Here!
By on August 21, 2014
Below are some commonly used terms in dentistry:
abscess: an infection of a tooth, soft tissue, or bone.
adjustment: a modification made upon a dental prosthesis after it has been completed and inserted into the mouth
anesthesia: a type of medication that results in partial or complete elimination of pain sensation; numbing a tooth is an example of local anesthesia; general anesthesia produces partial or complete unconsciousness.
bite-wing: a single X-ray that shows upper and lower teeth teeth (from crown to about the level of the supporting bone) in a select area on the same film. These are taken to view cavities between the teeth.
bonding: the covering of a tooth surface with a tooth-colored composite to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth, for instance, due to stain or damage.
bruxism: grinding or gnashing of the teeth, most commonly during sleep.
calculus: hard, calcium-like deposits that form on teeth due to inadequate plaque control, often stained yellow or brown. Also called "tartar."
caries: tooth decay or "cavities." A dental infection caused by toxins produced by bacteria.
composite resin filling: tooth-colored restorative material composed of plastic with small glass or ceramic particles; usually "cured" or hardened with filtered light or chemical catalyst. An alternative to silver amalgam fillings.
crown: (1) the portion of a tooth above the gum line that is covered by enamel; (2) dental restoration covering all or most of the natural tooth; the artificial cap can be made of porcelain, composite, or metal and is cemented on top of the damaged tooth.
dry socket: a common complication that occurs when either a blood clot has failed to form in an extracted tooth socket or else the blood clot that did form has been dislodged.
fluoride: a mineral that helps strengthen teeth enamel making teeth less susceptible to decay. Fluoride is ingested through food or water, is available in most toothpastes, or can be applied as a gel or liquid to the surface of teeth by a dentist.
gum recession: exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums as a result of abrasion, periodontal disease, or surgery.
implant: a metal rod (usually made of titanium) that is surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone where a tooth is missing; it serves as the tooth root and anchor for the crown, bridge, or denture that is placed over it.
malocclusion: "bad bite" or misalignment of the teeth or jaws.
panoramic X-ray: a type of X-ray that shows a complete two dimensional representation of all the teeth in the mouth. This X-ray also shows the relationship of the teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head.
prophylaxis: the cleaning of the teeth for the prevention of periodontal disease and tooth decay.
root canal therapy: procedure used to save an abscessed tooth in which the pulp chamber is cleaned out, disinfected, and filled with a permanent filling.
scaling and root planing: a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure whereby plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing).
tartar: common term for dental calculus, a hard deposit that adheres to teeth; produces rough surface that attracts plaque.
veneer: a thin, custom-made shell of tooth-colored plastic or porcelain that is bonded directly to the front side of natural teeth to improve their appearance -- for example, to replace lost tooth structure, close spaces, straighten teeth, or change color and/or shape.
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