Dental Terminology: A Glossary of Terms for Your Next Visit

Dental Terminology

Arm yourself with the knowledge to improve your oral health. Dentistry involves a lot more than just a brush, floss, teeth, and gums. Unfortunately, a dentist’s chair is not the most conducive environment for asking questions when you hear a term you’re unfamiliar with.

To clear up any confusion, browse the glossary of dental terminology below. The list is far from complete, but it does touch on many of the most commonly misunderstood terms.

Important Dental Terminology You Should Know

Amalgam: An alloy of silver and mercury used to fill teeth.

Bleaching: Whitening the teeth using peroxide.

Caries: Another term for cavities or tooth decay.

Composites: Restorative materials that match the color of the teeth.

Cosmetic Dentistry: Procedures performed by a general dentist to improve the color and shape of the teeth.

Edentulous: The loss of most or all of one’s natural teeth.

Endodontist: A specialist who treats damage to the pulp of the tooth, usually by performing root canals.

General Dentist: A primary care provider who treats all age groups and takes responsibility for the diagnosis, management, and treatment of oral conditions as well as the coordination of oral health needs.

Geriatric Dentist: A dentist who works primarily with elderly patients.

Gingivitis: An inflammation of the gums that is reversible.

Malocclusion: A misalignment of the teeth or jaw.

Mouthguards: A protective appliance for the teeth.

Occlusal Surface: The part of the teeth used for chewing.

Oral or Maxillofacial Surgeon: A surgeon who treats injuries, diseases, and defects involving the teeth or jaw.

Oral Pathologist: A doctor who examines oral tissue for abnormalities, particularly cancer.

Orthodontist: A doctor who specializes in correcting alignment issues using appliances like braces.

Pediatric Dentist: A dentist who works primarily with children.

Periodontal Disease: An inflammation and irritation of the jaw that can cause lasting damage if left untreated.

Periodontist: A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases affecting the tissue around the teeth.

Plaque: Bacteria that has mineralized and hardened on the surface of the teeth leading directly to dental decay.

Porcelain Veneers: A thin layer of porcelain applied to the front of the teeth for either cosmetic or corrective purposes.

Prophylaxis: A professional teeth cleaning performed by either a dentist or hygienist.

Radiosurgery: A form of surgery that uses radio waves to produce a bloodless, pressure-less incision.

Resin: A plastic material used for bonding in restorative and replacement procedures.

Restorative Dentistry: The process of restoring the normal form and function to teeth.

Sealant: A plastic coating used to safeguard teeth from decay.

Schedule Your Next Visit at The Happy Tooth

You could memorize a whole dictionary of dental terminology, but instead of trying to make yourself into an expert, why not work with a team that is eager to answer your questions, resolve any confusion, and do everything possible to help you feel comfortable and confident?

If you are overdue for a cleaning or checkup, make an appointment at The Happy Tooth.

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