When you come in to see the dentist, do you ever feel confused? Do you hear the dentist and hygienist talking, but don’t understand what exactly they’re saying? Dental terminology is almost its own language, with lots of unique terms and numbers used by professionals. It would be great if you had a better understanding of this foreign language. Here’s a guide from A to Z of some of the many common dental phrases that may help you at your next visit!
Abrasion: Loss of tooth structure caused by a hard toothbrush, poor brushing technique or bruxism.
Bruxism: Grinding or gnashing of the teeth, most commonly while the patient is asleep.
Calculus: Hard residue, commonly known as tartar, that forms on teeth due to inadequate plaque control. Calculus teeth are often stained yellow or brown.
Diastema: A space between teeth.
Enamel: Hard tissue covering the portion of tooth above the gum line.
Filling: Restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain or resin materials.
Gingivitis: The inflammation of gum tissue.
Halitosis: Bad breath of oral or gastrointestinal origin.
Inter-proximal: Surface in between adjoining teeth.
Jacket: The crown for a front tooth, usually made of porcelain.
K-file: A file used during a root canal.
Laughing Gas: Nitrous oxide, an odorless inhalation agent that produces relative analgesic (sedation), and reduces anxiety and creates a state of relaxation.
Mandible: The lower jaw.
Nerve: The tissue that conveys sensation, temperature and position information to the brain.
Occlusion: The relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure.
Periapical (PA): The region at the end of the roots of teeth.
Quadrant: One of the four equal sections into which the dental arches can be divided; begins at the midline of the arch and extends distally to the last tooth.
Restoration: The replacement of a portion of a damaged tooth.
Supernumerary Tooth: An extra tooth.
TMJ: The temporomandibular joint where the lower jaw attaches to the skull.
Unerupted Tooth: A tooth that has not pushed through the gum and assumed its correct position in the dental arch.
Vertical Dimension: The arbitrary space between the upper and lower jaws upon closure that may decrease over time due to wear, shifting or damage to the teeth.
Wisdom Teeth: The third (last) molars that usually erupt between the age of 18-25.
Xerostomia: Dry mouth or decrease in the production of saliva.
Yeast: Also called candida, which is a fungus that can occur in various parts of the body including the mouth.
Zygomatic bone: Quadrangular bone on either side of the face that forms the cheek prominence.