Dentists tend to use words unfamiliar to the rest of us who didn’t attend dental school along with them, and it can be overwhelming when you have no idea what they are talking about. Here are ten dental terms you should know if you don’t want to feel like a tiny fish in a big pond when you go to the dentist office.
Floss: A piece of string infused with cleansing material that fits in between crevices in the teeth to give the entire mouth a deep-clean. Flossing prevents cavities and plaque from forming, as well.
Implants: An artificial tooth root that dentists put in the jaw bone. The dentist can put an artificial tooth (or crown) on the implant, or you can use implants to hold bridges or dentures in place.
Periodontitis: A severe form of gum disease which can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss.
Enamel: The hard calcified tissue covering the dentin of the crown of the tooth.
Oral Hygiene: Activities you do to keep your mouth clean. These include brushing your teeth, cheeks, tongue, and dentures. They can also include using mouthwash or dental floss, or having a dentist or hygienist clean your teeth.
Tooth Decay: A hole in the tooth caused by acid in plaque. The more common name is cavity.
Xerostomia: Decreased salivary secretion that produces a dry and sometimes burning sensation. Also called dry mouth.
Plaque: A film that forms on the outside of the teeth, sometimes from eating certain foods, drinking certain drinks, or not taking good enough care of the teeth.
Veneers: Thin, custom-made shells crafted of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth.
Wisdom Teeth: The last teeth to come in during young adulthood. Also referred to as third molars.
All definitions courtesy the American Dental Association.