Understanding dental terms can help both you and your child feel more comfortable in your Li’l Sunshine Smiles dental home! Consider reviewing the following before your appointment so that you can be more involved in the treatment process. Also, never hesitate to ask a member of our team a question about a term that we use during your appointment. Above all, we want to educate and empower our patients as a part of our service to you!
Commonly Used Dental Terms (and Services)
The following dental terms are commonly used during your appointment. Brushing up on them before your appointment can help you and your child feel at ease during your appointment.
- Dental Cleaning – The most basic dental service and is recommended every 6 months. We meticulously clean, floss, buff, and polish your teeth to remove any stuck-on substances. We also provide a fluoride treatment, an element that helps coat the teeth in a protective layer. As a result, your teeth are more resistant to plaque and acids.
- Comprehensive Exam – After your child’s teeth cleaning, we will take x-rays of their teeth. After that, we will examine the films to find internal areas of tooth decay. The dentist will look at everything in your mouth, as well as the individual teeth. If she finds any signs of decay or disease she will offer treatment. That examination is also an oral cancer screening, which checks for lumps and abnormalities.
- Cavity Filling – First, your dentist drills out decayed areas of your teeth. Secondly, she cleans out any infection. Then, she fills the area with composite resin and other materials. That material is shaped to look like your tooth and keeps your teeth functioning like normal. Tooth-colored fillings are ones made from white material.
- Crown (NuSmile Crowns) – These are ceramic caps that fit over teeth during restorative treatment. Your dentist uses these for primary teeth that have been affected by early childhood caries. NuSmile Crowns give children a healthy, natural smile.
- Dental Sealant – Dental sealants are used to seal out decay. To place a dental sealant, your dentist paints a plastic dental coating on your tooth to seal it from food and other substances. As a result, your risk for tooth decay is greatly reduced.
- Tooth Extraction – When decay is severe, or a dental injury is too large, we may take out a tooth, which is an “extraction” of the tooth. We then prep the area for a dental implant by placing a screw in the jaw area immediately, or by letting the area heal a bit, then placing the screw.
- Dental Implant – When a screw sets in place after a tooth extraction, we implant a new tooth on top of that screw. This is a custom-made tooth that screws in on top of the implant in your jawbone.
- Gum Disease/Periodontal Treatment – This is a disease of the gums that is fairly painless, but can lead to serious issues. For example: tooth loss, toothlessness, or mushy gums that can’t hold implants. Periodontal maintenance is where we treat your gum area to lessen your gum disease. We use tools for “root planing and scaling.” Consequently, we remove pockets of infection and substances out of your gum line. As a result, we are able to calm down inflammation and gum recession. Some patients will get gum grafts to fix gum recession.
- Porcelain Veneers – Custom-made teeth shells are made in a lab. Then, they are bonded to the front of your teeth for a perfect, straight and white smile.
Tools, Teeth and Positions
Here are dental terms that refer to the tools and teeth positions that you will hear in our office:
- Molar – The big teeth in the back of your mouth meant to crush up food.
- Cuspid/Bicuspid – Your cuspids are the sharper, pointy teeth in front that help you cut up food. The teeth right behind them that are mid-sized are your bicuspids, or “premolars”.
- Bilateral – Both the right and left sides of the mouth.
- Calculus – Hard mineralized coating on your teeth. This is generally tartar, or plaque that has hardened. But, it can be calcium or other minerals as well.
- Dentin – The second, or middle, layer of your teeth under the enamel.
- Enamel – Your enamel is the hard, outer layer of your teeth that is incredibly strong.
- Erosion – When the tooth enamel has worn away from foods, plaque and oral problems.
- Amalgam/Composite – Amalgam is a silver filling, while composite is white or tooth-colored material for a filling.
- Gingivitis – This refers to your gum tissue that is starting to be irritated and inflamed. It’s the first stage of gum disease. However, it can be reversed.
- Malocclusion – Improper bite or alignment of the teeth and jaws. In time, it can cause dental and speech problems.
- Palate – The roof of your mouth.
- Plaque – Sticky bacteria that adheres to teeth from food particles/acids left over from eating/drinking.
- Abscess – Inflammation, usually with pus as well.
- Scaler – This is a simple metal tool used to remove plaque and food particles. We use it to test for sensitive areas on the teeth to detect tooth decay as well.
- Suture – A stitch to repair an incision.
- Posterior – Teeth towards the back of the mouth.
- Anterior – Teeth towards the front.
Let us know if you would like to learn more dental terms that aren’t on this list. Furthermore, if you have any questions about some that are on the list, call Li’l Sunshine Smiles today at 813-576-0200!