At Smith Dental, we try very hard to meet our patients where they’re at and discuss their dental needs in terms that are clear and easy to understand. Sometimes, though, we know that it might sound like we are speaking a different language.
We thought it might be helpful to our patients to provide a list of some dental terms you might hear used around the office. We believe that information and education both go a long way toward improving dental health outcomes, and we always want to make sure you understand your diagnosis and any treatments that we may recommend.
This list is by no means comprehensive, and of course, if you have a question, we are always happy to provide an answer!
Amalgam – A material used to fill cavities. It is composed of several metals and may also be referred to as “metal” or “silver” fillings.
Bonding – Bonding using dental resin is a procedure that allows us to repair or conceal cosmetic or structural issues with your teeth. Your teeth are etched and then the resin is applied in layers so that it bonds with your teeth. Once the resin is cured and polished, it will look natural, like your own enamel.
Composite resin – This tooth-colored alternative to amalgam (metal) fillings is used to fill cavities or perform cosmetic bonding.
Dental caries – You might know this common condition better by its other name: cavities.
Occlusion – This is the technical term for your bite, or the way your teeth fit together. A malocclusion is when your teeth don’t fit together properly.
Orthodontics – Treatments and appliances used to correct teeth and bite misalignments. Orthodontic treatments include traditional braces and alternatives like Invisalign and Six Month Smiles.
Osseointegration – This is the process of the post of your dental implant fusing with your jaw bone.
Pediatric dentistry – Dental care for children.
Periodontal disease – Also known as gum disease, this chronic infection affects about half of U.S. adults, according to the CDC. Gingivitis is the mildest form of the disease, and when it becomes advanced, it is known as periodontitis.
Plaque – A sticky substance that coats your teeth made up of saliva, food particles, and bacteria. Your toothbrush and dental floss are effective at removing plaque from the surface of your teeth, between your teeth, and just below your gumline. When plaque is not removed promptly, it hardens into tartar, or calculus, which can only be removed by a trained hygienist.
Root canal – This may refer to a part of your tooth’s anatomy, specifically the small canal that allows the nerve to run from the interior of your tooth into your jaw. It may also refer to the procedure that is used to treat an infection that occurs in this part of your tooth.
Scaling and root planing – A deep cleaning procedure used to treat periodontal disease.
Sleep apnea – A health condition in which the patient stops breathing multiple times while sleeping. Dentists can treat sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy.
Temporomandibular joint disorder – This is a painful condition in which the joint where your lower jaw meets your skull becomes inflamed and no longer functions properly. People often refer to the condition as either TMJ or TMD. We can treat this condition with medication, mouth guards, and other techniques.
We hope you found this “glossary” of dental terms helpful! If you have any questions, please call our Hillsboro dental office or send us an email using the online form on our contact us page!