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ABC’s of Dentistry

Find your reason to smile!

Let us help clear up some of the mystery and confusion behind some common dentistry terms so you can enjoy a stress free, informed visit.

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Amalgam

Filling Material made from mixing mercury, silver and other alloy mixtures used to restore a drilled portion of a tooth.

Anesthesia

Drugs administered by using a needle used to relieve pain and “freeze” a tooth

Anterior Teeth

Front teeth.

Arch

The upper or lower jaw.

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Bicuspids

A premolar tooth; tooth with two cusps.

Bitewings

X-rays that help a dentist diagnose cavities between teeth.

Bonding

Application of tooth-colored resin materials to the surface of the teeth.

Bridge

A fixed prosthetic device used to replace one or more missing teeth.

Bruxism

Habit of grinding or gnashing teeth especially while asleep.

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Calculus

Calculus or tartar is a form of hardened dental plaque that deposits and adheres to crowns and/or roots of teeth or prosthetic devices.

Canal

The narrow chamber inside the tooth’s root.

Canines

Also called cuspids.

Caries

A commonly used term for tooth decay, or cavities.

Cold sore

Cold sores are tiny blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth. The herpes simplex virus strain HSV-1 normally causes them. They usually clear within 7 to 10 days without treatment.

Composite resin filling

Tooth coloured resin fillings that bond to teeth and are used in place of Silver Amalgam restorations.

Contouring

The process of shaving or reshaping teeth.

Crown or Cap

An artificial tooth replacement in ceramic or metal that restores missing tooth structure by surrounding the remaining coronal tooth structure.

Cusps

The pointed parts on a tooth’s chewing surface.

Cuspids

Front teeth that typically have a protruding edge. Generally 3rd from the midline.

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Dentin

The tooth layer underneath the enamel.

Denture

A removable set of teeth.

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Endodontics

A field of dentistry that addresses problems affecting the tooth’s root or nerve.

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Fluoride

A mineral usually present in trace amounts in water and food. The Canadian Dental Association supports the appropriate use of fluorides in dentistry as one of the most successful preventive health measures in the history of health care.

Fluorosis

A harmless over-exposure to fluoride resulting sometimes in tooth discoloration.

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Gingiva

Gum tissue.

Gingivitis

Swelling of the gums caused by plaque.

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Impacted teeth

A condition in which a tooth fails to erupt or only partially erupts. Most commonly related to wisdom teeth or Canines.

Implant

A permanent replacement (that looks like a screw in the bone) for a missing tooth. It is commonly made of titanium

Incisor

Front teeth with cutting edges.

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Laminate veneer

A shell made of glass like structure that is bonded to the enamel of a front tooth to improve the shape or colour of teeth. The shell is usually thin and made from porcelain resin.

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Malocclusion

A malocclusion is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches. It is most commonly seen as crowding or spacing between teeth due to discrepancy between the size of teeth and jaws.

Mandible

The lower jaw.

Maxilla

The upper jaw.

Molar

Back teeth that are used for chewing and grinding the teeth.

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Onlay

A filling designed to protect the chewing surface of a tooth.

Orthodontics

A field of dentistry that deals with tooth and jaw alignment.

Overdenture

A non-fixed dental appliance applied to a small number of natural teeth or implants.

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Palate

Roof of the mouth.

Partial denture

A removable appliance that replaces missing teeth.

Pediatric Dentistry

A field of dentistry that deals with children’s oral health.

Periodontal disease

Infection of the gum tissues and the underlying bone.

Perio pocket

When you have periodontal disease, the supporting tissue and bone around teeth is destroyed, forming "pockets" around the teeth.

Periodontist

A dentist who treats diseases of the gums.

Permanent teeth

The teeth that erupt after primary teeth fall off. Also called adult teeth.

Plaque

A sticky deposit on teeth in which bacteria proliferate.

Posterior teeth

The bicuspids and molars. Also called the back teeth.

Primary teeth

A person’s first set of teeth. Also called baby teeth or temporary teeth.

Prophylaxis

The act of cleaning the teeth to prevent teeth and gum disease.

Prosthodontics

The field of dentistry that deals with artificial dental appliances.

Pulp

The inner tissues of the tooth containing blood, nerves and connective tissue.

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Receding gum

A condition in which the gums separate from the tooth, allowing bacteria and other substances to attack the tooth’s enamel and surrounding bone.

Resin filling

An artificial filling used to restore teeth. Also called a composite filling.

Root canal treatment

A procedure in which a tooth’s nerve is removed and the inner canal cleansed and filled.

Root planing

Scraping or cleansing of teeth to remove heavy buildup of tartar below the gum line.

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Sealant

Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are usually placed on the chewing (occlusal) surface of the permanent back teeth — the molars and premolars — to help protect them from decay. Toothbrushes can't reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract all food and plaque. While fluoride helps prevent decay and helps protect all the surfaces of the teeth, dental sealants add extra protection for the grooved and pitted areas.

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TMJ

Temporomandibular joint disorder. Health problems related to the jaw joint just in front of the ear.

Tartar

A hardened substance (also called calculus) that sticks to the tooth’s surface.

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Veneer

A laminate applied or bonded to the tooth.

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Whitening

A process that employs special bleaching agents for restoring or brightening the color of teeth.

Wisdom tooth

Third set of molars that are the last to erupt. Generally erupt in adolescence and are also called the 18year molars.

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