Most people don’t know a lot about dentistry lingo (excluding, of course, us dental nerds). Sometimes, that can leave you at a loss for what’s really going on with your oral health — you’re reclined in the examination chair trying to figure out what “occlusal surface” is right as your dentist has moved onto the next three words you don’t understand.
But that’s not how dentistry should work. That’s why your dentist in Orange Park makes an effort to communicate in clear, easy-to-understand language. It’s highly important to us that you always have a clear grasp of what’s going on with your oral health, and that you feel comfortable asking questions when you don’t completely understand something.
To help you discern between caries and crowns, gingivitis and gingival tissue, we have put together a small glossary of common words you may hear during your next dental appointment.
Abscess (dental): An infection that exists inside the tooth, in the gums, or in the bone that holds the tooth in place.
Amalgam: The silver material that is used to fill the hole, or cavity, left by tooth decay.
Bleaching: A cosmetic treatment that removes stains from the surface of and just beneath the tooth enamel.
Bonding: A cosmetic treatment that adds to missing or imperfect tooth structure to improve its form and function.
Caries: Holes in the tooth left by tooth decay. Also known as cavities.
Composite resin: A biocompatible material used to fill cavities and sculpt a new appearance for a damaged tooth.
Cosmetic dentistry: A field of dentistry that mainly focuses on improving the aesthetic of the smile rather than fixing functional issues.
Crown: A restorative procedure that strengthens a weak, worn, decayed, or otherwise damaged tooth.
Dental implants: A comprehensive tooth replacement option that replaces a missing tooth’s root as well as its crown.
Edentulous: Missing all teeth.
Endodontist: A specialist who focuses on issues affecting the interior of the tooth and performing root canals.
Fluoride: A mineral that is well-known for its ability to remineralize and strengthen the tooth enamel to protect it from decay.
General dentist: A dentist who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of common dental problems for patients of all ages.
Gingivitis: The earliest form of gum disease.
Gingival tissue: The gums.
Halitosis: Chronic bad breath. Often a symptom of gum disease.
Malocclusion: Misaligned teeth or jaws that may exist as an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or open bite.
Occlusal surface: The tooth’s chewing surface.
Periodontitis: The most advanced stage of gum disease.
Periodontist: A dentist who specializes in the tissues that support the teeth, especially in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gum disease.
Plaque: Clear, sticky substance that builds up on the teeth throughout the day and can be removed through brushing and flossing.
Prosthodontist: A dentist who specializes in replacing missing teeth.
Restorative dentistry: A field of dentistry that focuses on repairing damaged teeth to regain optimal function after injury, decay, or loss.
Sleep apnea: A condition that blocks the proper flow of air through the throat and to the brain during the night, resulting in chronic snoring, interrupted sleep, chronic exhaustion, and other issues.
Tartar: The hard, yellow substance that covers the teeth. Can only be removed with special tools at the dentist.
TMD: Temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
TMJ: The temporomandibular joint. Allows you to open and close your jaw.
Veneers: Porcelain or composite coverings that remake the size, shape, color, and overall appearance of the teeth that show when you smile.
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Nawrocki is a trusted provider of general dentistry and prosthodontics in Orange Park. To learn more about his comprehensive services or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to contact the office at 904-272-1588.