June 2013 articles

Say What? Common Dental Terms, Explained

Does it sometimes sound like your dentist is speaking a foreign language when trying to explain procedures or issues? This cheat sheet1 can help you decipher some of the dental jargon.

Abrasion – This is wear and tear on the tooth caused by forces other than chewing. Improper or aggressive brushing is one cause of abrasions.

Amalgam – A cavity-filling material made of a mixture of mercury, physician silver, tin and copper. It is also known as a “silver filling.”

Bruxism – Whether it’s while you sleep or during the day, bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth.

Caries – That’s tooth decay or cavities.

Gingivitis – Inflammation of the soft tissues around the base of each tooth.

Impacted tooth – If another tooth, thumb soft tissue or bone is stopping a tooth from pushing through the gums, that tooth is called “impacted.”

Implant – A device that’s surgically placed in the bone as a support for a denture or replacement tooth.

Malocclusion – If you have an overbite or an underbite, there you have malocclusion, or improper alignment of biting and chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.

Palate – The roof of your mouth, including hard tissues and soft tissues, is your palate.

Plaque – It’s a soft, sticky, naturally-occurring substance that accumulates on teeth. It is the main target of your toothpaste and floss.

Scaling – This is a dental procedure, usually done during a cleaning appointment, using a sharp instrument or sonic cleaning device to remove calculus and stains from teeth that can’t be brushed off.

1 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Glossary/

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