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Understanding Basic Dental Terminology

September 4, 2014
Posted By: Dr. Cassidy Bray
General Dentistry High Point NC

So you’re sitting there in the dental chair, and you hear all sorts of unfamiliar words being used. You’re pretty sure they have something to do with your teeth, but what the heck do they all mean? And why should you care?

You should care because that’s your mouth, and those are your teeth. Remember, whatever you hear, it’s all about you and your oral health. At Deep River Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we believe that knowledge is power because it allows you to be an informed, active participant in your dental care.

So here’s a mini-glossary to provide a bit of information about some of the dental terms you’re most likely to hear in your dentist’s office.

Dental Terms To Know

Abscess:  Hopefully, you haven’t heard this one too often. It is an infection that affects your tooth, soft tissue, and bone.

Bonding:  A treatment that uses a tooth-colored composite material to correct certain cosmetic flaws and reshape teeth.

Bruxism:  Teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw, usually during sleep

Composite Filling:  Also referred to as tooth-colored fillings, dental composites, or just composites. It is a tooth-colored filling material that is made up of plastic with small ceramic or glass particles.

Crown:  A dental restoration that covers and protects most or all of a tooth. Crowns can be made of porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal, or composite.

Dental Implant:  A stand-alone artificial tooth that is supported by a surgically placed implant, creating a functional, natural-looking replacement tooth.

Dentures:  Of course you know what they are, but there are three types: immediate (placed right after teeth are extracted), conventional or complete (used to replace all teeth), and partial (used to replace only a few teeth).

Gingivitis:  The first stage of periodontal disease. When caught at this point, periodontal disease can usually be eliminated with a professional dental cleaning.

Gum Recession:  Also referred to as receding gums, this occurs when your gums shrink, usually as a result of periodontal disease.

Nitrous Oxide:  Best known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild form of sedation used to help you relax during dental treatment.

Occlusion: The relationship of your upper and lower jaw and how they come together when you bite down. Also most commonly referred to as dental bite.

Plaque:  A sticky film that constantly forms on your teeth and consists of food debris, saliva and bacteria. If not removed during a professional cleaning plaque can lead to decay and periodontal disease.

Pontic:  An artificial tooth that is affixed to a prosthetic like a dental bridge.

Prophylaxis:  Professional dental cleanings that prevent gum disease and tooth decay.

Restorations:  Any procedure or treatment that replaces or protects tooth structure. Examples are fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, and implants.

Veneer:  A super-thin shell of porcelain bonded to the front side of your tooth to improve appearance and correct certain problems like uneven spaces between teeth.

Hopefully this provides you with enough basic information to understand what your dental team is talking about. At Deep River Dentistry, we encourage you to ask any and all questions that help you get a clearer picture of your dental needs. Please give us a call to arrange your next appointment!




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