Continuing our series of dental terminology explanations.
Last time, we took a look at some of the dental terminology that you may have heard at our Canterbury practice up to and including the letter ‘I’.
Today, patients of Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic can continue to learn more about some of these terms, starting with the letter ……..
J – Jawbone – Not a huge choice here and most of you will know what the jawbone is.There are separate terms for the upper and lower jaw which you may occasionally hear though. The upper part of the jaw is called the ‘maxilla’ and the lower part the ‘mandible’. Bone loss in the jaw following extraction or tooth loss can cause other teeth to move and may result in crooked teeth. Some patients may also suffer from jaw problems, often caused by teeth grinding. These are known as ‘occlusal’ problems.
K – Keratinised gingiva – Not one, perhaps, that you will hear too often but this refers to the thicker gum tissue around the neck of a tooth. Keratin itself is a protein that makes up the external layer of our skin as well as our hair and nails.
L – Local anaesthetic – Most of you will be familiar with this term and it is necessary to apply this before many dental treatments. To do so without would cause the treatment to be too painful to perform. It is applied via a fine needle into the gum around the tooth to be treated. Many people say that they dislike this as it hurts when it is given. In reality though, you are unlikely to feel much sensation as it enters the gum and any discomfort comes from the anaesthetic entering the bloodstream, a necessity to make the area numb so that the procedure can be carried out with minimum discomfort.
M – Molars – These are the teeth at the very rear of your mouth. They have a predominantly flat surface which allows you to chew your food. They are very strong but, being at the back of the mouth, are more difficult to keep clean. You should always try to clean at the back of these, including the use of floss.
N – Nightguard – These can be provided to prevent the patient from grinding their teeth when they sleep. This affects a significant number of people and is probably related to stress. As we can’t control habits such as this whilst we sleep, a night guard can help to protect the teeth whilst we address any underlying issues that could be leading to stress.
O – Orthodontics – Perhaps more commonly known to most patients as dental braces, the use of orthodontics helps patients to have straighter teeth. This not only provides a nicer appearance but also makes it easier to keep teeth clean and therefore reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. There are different types of orthodontics available at our Canterbury dental clinic including Invisalign and C-fast braces. The type used will be determined by the nature of the problem. Invisalign, for example, is used where the teeth in general need straightening, whereas C-fast can be used more for cosmetic correction of the visible front teeth.
P – Periodontitis – As regular readers of our blog will probably know by now, periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease. It is much more serious and difficult to treat than gingivitis, an earlier stage. In some cases this may require surgical intervention once the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone structure have become infected. Gum disease is highly preventable though and good home care plus a regular appointment with our hygienist will ensure that any potential risks are kept to a minimum.
Q – Quadrant – As you might perhaps guess, this is a description of the areas of the mouth which are broken down into four parts. The top and bottom jaw have two parts each and start with the front tooth to the side of the centre and reach back to the very rear tooth. For example, you may hear the term ‘upper left quadrant’, meaning the teeth on the top jaw to the left hand side of the mouth.
R – Root canal – The root canals of a tooth are contained, as you would expect, in the roots of the tooth. These contain a soft pulp material that includes the nerves and tiny blood vessels. These can become infected with bacteria when the enamel is damaged, and especially if it is not treated soon enough. When this happens, a root canal procedure will be needed to restore the tooth.
Well, that is it for this blog and we will continue from ‘S’ onwards next time. We hope that you find these useful and please do remember that you can ask your dentist to explain anything that you are unsure of.
If you need to see one of our team or need advice on a dental problem that you are having, please call Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic on 01227 463529.