June 2013 articles

Say What? Common Dental Terms, Explained

Does your dentist sound like s/he’s speaking a foreign language when explaining procedures or issues? This cheat sheet1 can help you decipher some dental jargon.

Abrasion – Wear and tear on the tooth caused by forces other than chewing. Improper or aggressive brushing causes abrasions.

Amalgam – A cavity-filling material made of a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Also known as a “silver filling.”

Bruxism – Clenching or grinding teeth.

Caries – Tooth decay or cavities.

Gingivitis – Inflammation of the soft tissues around the base of each tooth.

Impacted tooth – A tooth kept from pushing through the gums by another tooth, soft tissue, or bone.

Implant – A device surgically placed in the bone as a support for a denture or replacement tooth.

Malocclusion – Improper alignment of biting and chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth (overbite or underbite).

Palate – The roof of your mouth, including hard tissues and soft tissues.

Plaque – A soft, sticky, naturally-occurring substance that accumulates on teeth. The main target of your toothpaste and floss.

Scaling – A dental procedure that uses a sharp instrument or sonic cleaning device to remove deposits and stains from teeth that can’t be brushed off.

1 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Glossary/


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