Glossary for Dental Patients During Your Check-Up

If you are seeing terms in your dental records that you need to Google or hearing terminology in your dentist's office that you do not understand, then this glossary for dental patients is for you. Dentists use a lot of terms to describe parts of your mouth, dental procedures, and oral health issues.

The following dental glossary will help you make sense of the most common terms:

Abrasion:

This is the loss of your tooth's structure due to brushing too hard or grinding your teeth.

Abscess:

This is a localized inflammation that contains pus and that is usually swollen and tender.

Abutment:

This is a natural tooth that supports a dental implant.

ADA:

This stands for the American Dental Association.

Anterior teeth:

These are your six lower and six upper front teeth.

Analgesia:

This is a numbing agent that lessens pain without loss of consciousness, ensuring your visit to the dentist is stress and pain-free. A common example is novocaine.

Amalgam:

This is a material that's used in fillings to repair cavities. It usually consists of mercury, silver, and other materials.

Bite:

This is the way your upper and lower teeth meet when you close your mouth.

Bitewing:

An X-ray of a patient's mouth that helps detect cavities and tooth decay.

Bleaching:

This is a technique that removes stains from teeth through laser or chemical treatment.

Bonding:

This is a technique that uses tooth-colored composite resin to repair misshapen, cracked, or discolored teeth.

Braces:

These are orthodontic devices that help to reposition teeth.

Bruxism:

Bruxism is the involuntary grinding of teeth.

Calculus:

Also known as tartar, calculus is a hard residue that forms on the surface of teeth due to the buildup of plaque.

Caries:

This is tooth decay, and is a common cause for cavities.

Cavities:

This is a hole in your tooth due to tooth decay.

Cleaning:

This is a procedure that involves removing plaque and tartar from your teeth.

Cosmetic dentistry:

These are treatment procedures that are performed to enhance your smile. They include teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.

Deciduous teeth:

Also known as baby teeth.

Dentures:

Removable teeth that rest on the gums.

Extraction:

Removal of teeth.

Filling:

Material that goes into a drilled and cleaned tooth to restore its structure. The two types of dental filling include amalgam, which is made from silver and mercury, and composite, which is white and metal-free.

Gingivitis:

Inflammation of the gums. It is the early stage of gum disease and is often caused by plaque buildup.

Halitosis:

The condition of bad breath

Impacted tooth:

A tooth beneath the gum tissue that is unlikely to grow out on its own

Laminate veneer:

A plastic or porcelain shell that's placed at the front of the tooth to strengthen it and improve its appearance

Overbite:

This is a vertical overlap of your front teeth

Partial dentures:

These are removable appliances that replace sections of missing teeth

Periodontal disease:

A general term for gum disease and inflammation

Restoration:

Replacement of missing or damaged teeth

Root canal:

A procedure to save an abscessed tooth that involves cleaning out, disinfecting, and filling the pulp chamber. This procedure can bring relief from pain if your tooth is severely infected.

Unerupted tooth:

A tooth that has not pushed through the gums

Wisdom teeth:

The third set of molars. These teeth are usually the last to come in. In some patients, they can damage surrounding teeth and have to be extracted.

Contact Portola Dental Group at (760) 201-4085 to find out more about the many glossaries for dental patients terms explained above.

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