Glossary

A description of the various dental terms used in this guide.

A

Abscess

A pus filled swelling within the tooth which occurs as a result of advanced tooth decay or periodontitis. This infection causes swelling at the base of the tooth and various symptoms such as raised temperature, foul taste in the mouth and a swollen one side of the face.

Acrylic resin

One of several materials used in composite bonding. Composite bonding is used to repair a broken or chipped tooth or as a filling.

Amalgam

The traditional silver filling made from mercury and other metals.

B

Bleaching

Another name for teeth whitening: a cosmetic dentistry procedure which whitens the teeth. This is performed for aesthetic reasons.

Bonding

Also known as dental bonding: a technique in which a soft paste is applied to a broken or crooked tooth. This is done to repair the tooth.

Bruxism

The dental term for teeth grinding: this condition occurs during the night and causes symptoms such as headaches, pain in the jaw and sensitive teeth.

C

Cavity

The name given to the appearance of a hole in the enamel of a tooth which is caused by tooth decay.

Cement

Also known as dental cement: a soft, paste like substance which is used to secure a crown in place over a tooth. This is used as a form of restoration.

Composite filling

A white coloured filling which is comprised of a series of minerals and is used as a form of repair for a decayed or damaged tooth.

D

Dental resin

A substance applied to the teeth in severe cases of sensitive teeth.

Dentin

The hard, yellow, middle layer of a tooth which is comprised of a series of fluid filled channels. These channels connect the edge of the tooth to the nerve in the centre and are highly responsive to changes in temperature.

E

Enamel

The name given to the hard outer layer of a tooth: this is the white top layer of a tooth.

F

Floss

A thin, string-like material which is used to remove food debris from between the teeth. Often used as part of a dental cleaning routine.

Fluoride

A substance which helps to prevent tooth decay: this is added to toothpaste, mouthwashes and water.

G

Gingivitis

A milder form of gum disease: this is characterised by red, swollen and inflamed gums which bleed when brushed. This condition is caused by a build up of plaque on the teeth.

H

Halitosis

The technical name for bad breath: often caused by tooth decay and/or gum disease.

I

Inlay

The name given to a type of filling which fits inside a tooth: this is made from composite materials, gold or porcelain.

J

None at present.

K

None at present.

L

Laminate veneer

A thin shell which is used to hide a crooked or discoloured tooth. This is usually performed for cosmetic purposes.

M

Mercury

The prime component of amalgam fillings.

Mouth guard

A soft plastic device worn over the teeth to prevent teeth grinding.

N

Nerves

These are located within the pulp of a tooth and help to transmit pain signals to the brain.

O

Onlay

Another type of filling which is similar to an inlay except this is inserted over the top of a tooth.

Oral care

Another term for mouth care: oral refers to the teeth, gums and mouth.

P

Periodontitis

A severe form of gum disease which causes the gums to recede, resulting in teeth becoming loose and eventually falling out. The alveolar bone which holds teeth in place is destroyed which contributes to tooth loss.

Plaque

A sticky film which builds up on the surface of the teeth. This film occurs as from a combination of sugars from broken down food and bacteria present in the mouth.

Pulp

The soft inner centre of a tooth which contains the nerves and blood vessels.

Q

None at present.

R

Restoration is a dental term which is used to refer to a replacement tooth. Examples of this include crowns and implants.

Root

The bottom section of a tooth: the two anchor points of a tooth which secure it within the jaw.

Root canal

The channel which runs from the top to the bottom of the tooth. It contains the pulp, nerves and blood vessels.

Root planing

A dental treatment which involves the removal of hard substances such as tartar and plaque from beneath the gum line. It is considered a form of deep scaling.

S

Scaling

A dental procedure in which tartar and plaque is removed from the surface of a tooth. This often forms part of a scale and polish.

Socket

The recess for a tooth within the jaw.

T

Tartar

A hard, yellow coloured substance which forms on the teeth. This is caused by a build up of plaque which if left untreated develops into this substance.

Toothbrush

A device used to clean the teeth which consist of a long slim handle attached to a collection of bristles. There are two types of toothbrush manual and electric.

Tooth decay

A common dental condition in which the enamel of a tooth is broken down due to a build up of plaque. This plaque causes a hole or cavity to develop which spread down into the tooth causing pain and discomfort. This is usually caused by a poor dental hygiene routine and a diet high is sugars and acidic foods.

Tubule

The name given to one of many channels within the dentin of a tooth. These channels contain fluid and run from the outer edge of the tooth to the nerve in the centre. These tubules are sensitive to changes in temperature.

U

None at present.

V

Virgin teeth

Teeth which are pure and free from decay or any form of dental treatment.

W

None at present.

X

None at present.

Y

None at present.

Z

None at present.

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