Final Part Of Our A To Z Of Dental Terminology

Concluding our explanation of dental terms that you might hear during your visit to our Canterbury clinic

Bradley & Partners CanterburyToday’s blog wraps up our A-Z series of things that you might have heard a dentist say but were not sure what it meant. We hope that you have found this useful and, as they say, normal service will be resumed with our next blog.

In the meantime, we hope that you have enjoyed reading these and please remember that the dentists at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic are always happy to explain anything to do with your treatment that you don’t understand.

S – Scaling (periodontal) – Also sometimes called ‘root scaling’, this is a treatment for advanced gum disease (periodontitis), when the bacteria has not only affected the gums but the roots of the teeth and potentially the surrounding bone as well. It is an invasive treatment that has to be carried out by a suitable qualified dentist and shouldn’t be confused with the regular ‘scale and polish’ which the dental hygienist carries out. Another ‘S’ worth briefly mentioning too is ‘suture’; this is simply another name for a stitch.

T – TMJ or Temporomandibular – This refers to the ‘hinge’ of your jaw that allows the mouth to open and close smoothly. It can be affected by dental problems such as an incorrect and uneven bite as well as teeth grinding. In some cases where these habits occur, problems in this part of the jaw may lead to clicking of the jaw and even headaches. These can sometimes be prevented with a mouthguard which helps to prevent teeth grinding whilst you are asleep.

U – Unerupted tooth – This is a tooth which has not erupted as it should and may be causing discomfort or may have become infected. This most commonly occurs with the very rear teeth that are often referred to as wisdom teeth. These impacted teeth can sometimes be difficult to extract and a surgical procedure may be necessary in a small number of cases.

V – Veneer – Teeth veneers are a popular cosmetic dental treatment that can also be used to protect enamel damaged teeth from sensitivity to both hot and cold. Whilst a teeth whitening procedure is the first choice for those seeking a whiter smile, veneers may be more appropriate where heavy staining has occurred or where teeth are chipped and cracked. Most long term dental veneers are made from porcelain.

W – Wisdom teeth – Most people’s wisdom teeth erupt in a normal manner but, as mentioned earlier, they can also cause problems for some people. They are usually the last teeth to erupt and it  is believed that the name originated from the fact that by the time these teeth come through, you are supposedly old enough to have gained wisdom! Because of their location in the mouth, they can be slightly more difficult to keep clean, especially at the back. Special care should be taken when cleaning your teeth to brush them as well as you can and to use dental floss to clean behind them.

X – X-Ray – As we don’t use xylophones in our dental practice, there really wasn’t much choice for this particular letter! Most of our Canterbury patients will be familiar with x-rays as these are used to monitor the health of your teeth and gums from time to time. A visual inspection of your teeth enables us to see what is going on on the surface of your teeth, but only x-rays and scans can let us know of any problems withing the tooth and below the gum line. X-rays are safe but we have had some people ask why, if that is the case, dentists protect themselves during the taking of an x-ray. The simple reason is that whilst the patient may have one x-ray, we may use these several times a day, every day, which could accumulate any risk.

Y – Your Choice – OK, we admit that this was a difficult one so we thought that we would use it to emphasise that we are here to help you have healthy and attractive teeth. Especially when it comes to cosmetic dentistry, we appreciate that everyone has different requirements. A good example of this is the teeth whitening procedure. Some younger patients, perhaps inspired by reality TV programmes, sometimes want to have their teeth as white as possible. Others though don’t like the idea of going straight from dull looking teeth to bright white ones that stand out too much. These patients may instead opt for a more subtle improvement. The point is that we are here to help you and whilst we are always happy to offer our professional advice, the final decision is yours.

Z – Zygomatic bone – Just when you were wondering how we were going to include ‘zebras’ in dental terminology 🙂 .. The Zygomatic bone is the bone which causes prominence of the cheeks and the side of the eye socket. Most of you will know it as the ‘cheek bone’. This can sometimes be used to secure dental implants when a patient has insufficient bone for a regular implant placement.

And there we have it; a few slightly more obscure ones towards the end but we hope that you found these useful anyway. Working in a professional dental environment means that we do sometimes talk in ‘technical’ language, usually between ourselves. This may occasionally spill out into our conversations with the patient. Please don’t be put off by this and make sure to ask us anything that you are unsure about; we are always happy to help.

If you would like to make an appointment to see a dentist at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, please do so by calling us on 01227 463529.