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Here is a list of common terms you may come across when reading about dental health.


Abrasion

The wearing down of tooth enamel due to things other than chewing, such as improper brushing, holding/chewing things between your teeth, etc.


Abscessed Tooth

A pocket of pus found around the root of a tooth due to a bacterial infection.


Abutment

The adjacent teeth used to support a dental implant or bridge.


Anesthesia

When medication is administered to allow a dental (or other medical) procedure to be done without the patient feeling any pain. The two main types of anesthesia used in a dental procedure are local anesthesia  (numb specific area) and general anesthesia (puts you in a sleep-like state where you don’t feel pain).


Basic Cleaning

Preventative treatment for patients with healthy gums and teeth where you remove the plaque build-up on the teeth.


Bleaching

Cosmetic procedure using a bleaching solution to whiten the teeth.


Bonding

Application of a tooth-colored composite resin to a tooth to repair damage or improve the appearance of one’s teeth.


Bridge

Restorative dental procedure used to replace missing teeth. A prosthetic tooth is anchored to the surrounding teeth (abutment teeth), looking and functioning like a natural tooth.


Cavity

A decaying area of a tooth, caused by bacterial plaque, that often develops into an opening or hole.


Composite

A tooth-colored resin used to restore decayed teeth or used for cosmetic improvements.


Crown

A cover or “cap” put on a tooth to restore a tooth’s appearance, protect a weak tooth, etc.


Dental Filling

When the decayed portion of a tooth is removed and “filled” with composite resin. A filling can also be used to repair damaged or cracked teeth.


Dental Prosthesis

A fixed or removable dental appliance that replaces missing teeth or covers up tooth defects. This includes crowns, dental implants, veneers, and dentures.


Denture

A removable or fixed prosthetic replacing missing teeth and surrounding tissue. It can be complete or partial.


Enamel

The hard, mineralized material covering the outside portion of a tooth above the gum line.


Erosion

The wearing down of the enamel that protects teeth, usually caused by acidic food and drinks.


Extraction

To have a tooth permanently removed from its socket in the bone.


Gingivitis

Inflammation of the gums that often presents as bleeding gums. It can lead to periodontitis.


Gum Graft

Process of using self or donor tissue to correct the effects of gum recession.


Impacted Tooth

A tooth fully or partially blocked by tissue or bone that cannot fully erupt. A tooth can be partially impacted if it has slightly broken through the gums.


Malocclusion

When the teeth are not properly aligned.


Orthodontist

A dentist who diagnoses and corrects misalignment of the teeth and jaws.


Periodontal Disease

Infection of the gums and periodontal tissues around the teeth.


Periodontitis

Serious gum infection that damages the hard and soft tissue surrounding the teeth, causing the gums to recede and damaging the bones supporting the teeth. Also known as gum disease


Plaque

A soft, sticky bacterial film that builds up on teeth. If not removed regularly, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.


Root Canal

A procedure to treat a damaged or decayed tooth, in which the tooth’s infected pulp/nerve is removed and replaced by filling material in the root.


Scaling

A dental procedure where you remove plaque and calculus buildup below the gumline. It is common for patients with gum disease.


Unerupted Tooth

A tooth that has formed but hasn’t grown in yet.


Veneer

A thin layer of porcelain bonded to the front of teeth to improve their appearance.


Tooth Decay

Permanently damaged areas in the outer surface of a tooth. Usually a result of bacteria.

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