Your A-Z Of Dental Terminology

An alphabetical guide to the world of oral health for our Canterbury patients

Bradley & Partners Dentist LogoAs experienced dentists, as with many other professions, it can become all too easy to slip into using terminology that we understand but which may sound strange and possibly even concerning to the patient sitting in the chair. Some of the dental terms that we commonly use are at least vaguely familiar to most people, but this isn’t the case for all of them.

At Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, we want you to feel relaxed about your care and treatment, and to help with this we have compiled an alphabetical list of terms that you may hear when you come for your check up or for treatment with us. Naturally, not all terms will be listed here and if you do hear us mention a word that concerns you, please do ask your dentist; they will be happy to explain it to you as best as they can.

So .. here goes

A – Amalgam – For many years, this has been the most commonly used dental filling. It is made from a combination of metals including tin, silver and mercury. It is a very strong filling material that lasts a long time although it can shrink slightly over time, potentially leaving gaps where bacteria can enter. Many of you are now moving away from amalgam fillings due to their high visibility and opting instead for natural looking tooth coloured fillings.

B – Bonding – Bonding can be used in cosmetic or restorative dentistry. It requires no invasive treatment and involves moulding a resin to the tooth. It can be used to reshape a tooth or even to fill one in some situations. It is not the strongest option available though and can discolour.

C – Calculus – Although this term is still used by dentists, you are perhaps more likely to hear it referred to as ‘tartar’. This is a combination of hardened bacteria and minerals which can build up on the teeth and around the gum line. It creates a rough surface which not only attracts staining but can also attract more bacteria too. If it is not removed, it may increase the risk of decay and gum disease. It can be removed by a dental hygienist using a scale and polish procedure.

D – Dry socket – This can occur following a tooth extraction. When you have this procedure, we make sure that a blood clot has formed where the tooth was removed before you leave our Canterbury clinic. This is to protect and heal the area. Sometimes though, this can fall out, especially if you ‘poke’ at it with your finger or other object. This then exposes the extraction site and can be quite uncomfortable and may increase the risk of infection. It can be treated by a dentist who will pack it with a medicated dressing to resolve the problem.

E – Endodontics – This is a field of dentistry that focuses on the inner part of the tooth, and specifically the root canals. When the pulp material in the root canals becomes infected there are two solutions; extraction or the more likely first option; root canal treatment. This is carried out by an endodontist who is qualified in this type of specialist dental surgery.

F – Fixed Prosthesis – This is simply a term that covers a group of treatments that focus on permanent replacement of missing teeth. The treatments usually included in this are dental implants, dentures or a dental bridge.

G – Gingivitis – Some of you may be familiar with this term as it is used to indicate early stage gum disease. Symptoms may include sore or inflamed gums, bleeding from gums when brushing and even bad breath. It is usually managed through improved home oral care and/or with a professional dental cleans known as a ‘scale and polish’. It should not be ignored though as it may otherwise advance to the periodontitis stage where tooth loss is a real possibility.

H – Halitosis – This refers to bad breath, but an especially powerful type that is persistent and not caused by eating certain types of food. The most likely cause of it is gingivitis (see above) and periodontitis. If your friends and others start to take a step back when you speak to them, you should have your mouth checked by a dentist.

I – Implant (dental) – This is an increasingly popular method of replacing a missing tooth, or multiple teeth and is one that we carry out at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic. Although the initial treatment is slightly invasive and a little inconvenient for some, it offers an excellent solution for missing teeth; providing strength and stability, often for 10 years (and usually many more) with the correct care.

We will leave this list here for today and will revisit it in our next few blogs. We hope that you find it useful and if you have heard us use a term that you didn’t understand and would like to know what it means, please do let us know.

Our Canterbury dental clinic can be contacted by using the form on our website or calling us on 01227 463529.