Glossary of Dental Health Terms

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Dental Glossary 2017-06-11T18:17:45+00:00
Glossary of Dental Health Terms

Here is our Glossary of Dental Terms for your ease of Reference.

At Dr. Richard Romay’s dental office – Design a Smile, we want you to be comfortable with your decision of having a dental procedure done. We understand that some of the verbiage and terminology used throughout a dental website may be confusing or unknown. For you education we have incorporated this glossary of some of the most commonly asked definition of the dental industry.

A mouth guard (also known as a mouth protector, mouth piece, gumshield, gumguard or nightguard) is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips and gums. Mouth guards are most often used to prevent injury in contact sports, as a treatment for bruxism or TMD, or as part of certain dental procedures, such as tooth bleaching.
A crown is a type of dental restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. Crowns are often needed when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of a tooth.[1] They are typically bonded to the tooth using a dental cement. Crowns can be made from many materials, which are usually fabricated using indirect methods. Crowns are often used to improve the strength or appearance of teeth. While unarguably beneficial to dental health, the procedure and materials can be relatively expensive.[2]
An inlay or onlay is usually recommended as a conservative alternative to a full crown. Oftentimes when decay is removed, these procedures are recommended. In cosmetic dentistry, the evolution of materials and techniques allow for tooth-colored materials. In as much as there is a controversy over the use of amalgam in fillings (direct procedure), the use of tooth-colored materials is best used as a cosmetic procedure that also produces long-term success.
There are various materials that can be used to make an indirect inlay or onlay . . . .

  • Composite
  • Porcelain
  • Reinforced Porcelain
  • Lucite Porcelain
Dental bleaching, also known as tooth whitening, is a common procedure in general dentistry but most especially in the field of cosmetic dentistry. As a person ages the adult teeth often become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth, as the enamel becomes less porous.[citation needed] Teeth can also become stained by bacterial pigments, foodstuffs and tobacco. Certain antibiotic medications (like tetracycline) can also cause teeth stains or a reduction in the brilliance of the enamel.
Most in-office bleaching procedures use a light-cured protective layer that is carefully painted on the gums and papilla (the tips of the gums between the teeth) to reduce the risk of chemical burns to the soft tissues. The bleaching agent is either carbamide peroxide, which breaks down in the mouth to form hydrogen peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide itself. The bleaching gel typically contains between 10% and 44% carbamide peroxide, which is roughly equivalent to a 3% to 16% hydrogen peroxide concentration.
Endodontic therapy is a sequence of treatment for the pulp of a tooth which results in the elimination of infection and protection of the decontaminated tooth from future microbial invasion. This set of procedures is commonly referred to as a “root canal.” Root canals and their associated pulp chamber are the physical hollows within a tooth that are naturally inhabited by nerve tissue, blood vessels and other cellular entities. Endodontic therapy involves the removal of these structures, the subsequent cleaning, shaping, and decontamination of the hollows with tiny files and irrigating solutions, and the obturation (filling) of the decontaminated canals with an inert filling such as gutta percha and typically a eugenol-based cement.
A dental extraction (also referred to as exodontia) is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. Extractions are performed for a wide variety of reasons, including tooth decay that has destroyed enough tooth structure to render the tooth non-restorable.
Gingivitis (“inflammation of the gum tissue”) is a term used to describe non-destructive periodontal disease.[1] The most common form of gingivitis is in response to bacterial biofilms (also called plaque) adherent to tooth surfaces, termed plaque-induced gingivitis, and is the most common form of periodontal disease. In the absence of treatment, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, which is a destructive form of periodontal disease.

Periodontitis is a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the periodontium, i.e., the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontitis involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is caused by microorganisms that adhere to and grow on the tooth’s surfaces, along with an overly aggressive immune response against these microorganisms. A diagnosis of periodontitis is established by inspecting the soft gum tissues around the teeth with a probe (i.e. a clinical exam) and by evaluating the patient’s x-ray films (i.e. a radiographic exam), to determine the amount of bone loss around the teeth.

Composite resin fillings (also called white fillings) are a mixture of powdered glass and plastic resin, and can be made to resemble the appearance of the natural tooth. They are cosmetically superior to amalgam fillings.
This procedure enables patients the ability to preview their new smile and actually approve of all the parameters before the final smile makeover is made with porcelain veneers and/or porcelain crowns.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root replacement made of titanium and shaped like a screw.
Dental implants are surgically fixed substitutes for roots of missing teeth. Embedded in the jawbone, they act as anchors for a replacement tooth, also known as a crown, or a full set of replacement teeth.
A compound containing high-concentrations of fluoride that dental care providers apply to teeth and leave for hours, releasing fluoride into the smooth surface areas of the teeth until it is brushed off after a few hours. Found to be very protective against cavities.
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay.  Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay or dental caries (cavities) by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.
Dentures (also known as false teeth) are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth, and which are supported by surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Conventional dentures are removable, however there are many different denture designs, some which rely on bonding or clasping onto teeth or dental implants.

Partial Removable partial dentures are for patients who are missing some of their teeth on a particular arch. Fixed partial dentures, also known as “crown and bridge”, are made from crowns that are fitted on the remaining teeth to act as abutments and pontics made from materials to resemble the missing teeth. Fixed bridges are more expensive than removable appliances but are more stable.

Full Conversely, complete dentures or full dentures are worn by patients who are missing all of the teeth in a single arch (i.e. the maxillary (upper) or mandibular (lower) arch).

In dentistry, a veneer is a thin layer of restorative material placed over a tooth surface, either to improve the aesthetics of a tooth, or to protect a damaged tooth surface. There are two main types of material used to fabricate a veneer, composite and dental porcelain. A composite veneer may be directly placed (built-up in the mouth), or indirectly fabricated by a dental technician in a dental laboratory, and later bonded to the tooth, typically using a resin cement such as Panavia. In contrast, a porcelain veneer may only be indirectly fabricated.

Veneers are an important tool for the cosmetic dentist. A dentist may use one veneer to restore a single tooth that may have been fractured or discolored, or multiple teeth to create a “Hollywood” type of makeover. Many people have small teeth resulting in spaces that may not be easily closed by orthodontics. Some people have worn away the edges of their teeth resulting in a prematurely aged appearance, while others may have malpositioned teeth that appear crooked. Multiple veneers can close these spaces, lengthen teeth that have been shortened by wear, provide a uniform color, shape, and symmetry, and make the teeth appear straight[15].

A teeth cleaning to remove tartar, plaque and stains.
Temporomandibular joint disorder  (TMJD or TMD), or TMJ syndrome) is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the skull. The disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment. Because the disorder transcends the boundaries between several health-care disciplines in particular, dentistry and neurology there are a variety of treatment approaches.
A bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, is a dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants.

Types of bridges may vary, depending upon how they are fabricated and the way they anchor to the adjacent teeth. Conventionally, bridges are made using the indirect method of restoration. However, bridges can be fabricated directly in the mouth using such materials as composite resin.

Oral sedation dentistry is a medical procedure involving the administration of oral sedative drugs, generally to facilitate a dental procedure and reduce patients fear and anxiety related to the experience.
Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage.

Screening for oral cancer may be done during a routine check-up by a dentist or doctor. The exam will include looking for lesions, including areas of leukoplakia (an abnormal white patch of cells) and erythroplakia (an abnormal red patch of cells). Leukoplakia and erythroplakia lesions on the mucous membranes may become cancerous.

Invisalign is a series of clear, removable teeth aligners that both orthodontists and dentists use as an alternative to traditional metal dental braces.

The most obvious advantage of the treatment is cosmetic: the aligners are completely transparent, therefore far more difficult to detect than traditional wire and bracket braces. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces, which are commonly worn by children and adolescents. In addition, the aligners are marketed as being more comfortable than braces.[4] Due to the removable nature of the device, food can be consumed without the encumbrance of metallic braces.

Digital radiography is a form of x-ray imaging, where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. Advantages include time efficiency through bypassing chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer and enhance images. Also less radiation can be used to produce an image of similar contrast to conventional radiography.

Digital Radiography (DR) or (DX) is essentially filmless X-ray image capture. In place of X-ray film, a digital image capture device is used to record the X-ray image and make it available as a digital file that can be presented for interpretation and saved as part of the patient’s medical record. The advantages of DR over film include immediate image preview and availability, a wider dynamic range which makes it more forgiving for over- and under-exposure as well as the ability to apply special image processing techniques that enhance overall display of the image.

Intraoral cameras deliver high-quality images that can help patients learn about problem areas and better understand their treatment, which increases their comfort before and during a procedure. Intraoral cameras are quickly becoming the gold standard in cosmetic dentistry.

Mounted on the end of a pen-shaped instrument, the tiny intraoral camera can be used to provide detailed imaging of the teeth and gums. Digital images are captured instantly and sent to a TV screen mounted above each treatment chair, where patient and dentist can view them together.