17 Dental Terms Every Parent Needs to Know
For some people, going to the dentist is a scary experience, but it shouldn't be! Dentists are knowledgeable and friendly professionals whose goal is to help you have a healthy set of teeth for your entire lifetime. Your teeth are so important to your overall well-being, and seeing a dentist regularly ensures that you keep them clean and healthy.
Unfortunately, some people are scared of the dentist in part because they are intimidated by the dental terminology that is often used there. To be sure, these might not be terms that are a normal part of your vocabulary! But they are hardly ever as complicated as they may seem.
Seeing any doctor for improvements in your health is a step in the right direction, and it is encouraged for patients to take an active part in understanding what their doctors tell them. To help you out the next time you or your child visits the dentist, we have compiled a list of 17 dental terms that every parent should know.
Plaque is the stuff we don’t want, and we brush and floss our teeth to get rid of it. Plaque is an area of bacteria and food debris. This is like a buffet restaurant for bacteria, and the aftermath is a cavity and pain. Usually whitish, but sometimes yellowish or orangeish. Grossish.
All of us have enamel on our teeth, and it’s a good thing we do! Enamel is hard and makes up the outer layer of each tooth that protects it from decay. Unfortunately, enamel can break down if you don’t brush or eat the right foods.
Interproximal is just the fancy word for the area that is between two teeth that are right next to each other. This is the area you clean when you floss.
Dentin is another important part of each tooth we have. Dentin sits directly below the enamel layer and makes up most of every tooth. Our tooth enamel acts as a barrier between foods and saliva and dentin.
Pulp is in the middle of each of your teeth. This is where all of the blood vessels and nerves for your teeth are.
Some individuals suffer from malocclusion. This is the medical way of saying that when those people bite down and close their jaws, the way their teeth are positioned is not ideal. Crooked teeth or bite.
In medical speak, caries is the term that doctors and specialists use for cavities. Caries is also another simple term for basic tooth decay.
Teeth are actually quite long, but we can only see part of each tooth in our mouths. The part that we see, which sits above the gum line, is called the crown. When people have to have an artificial replacement for a tooth, this is also called a crown.
Do you know someone who grinds their teeth when they sleep? This is known as bruxism by dental and oral specialists.
Amalgam is an alloy that is made up of different metals and is silver in appearance.
Composites are a plastic/resin material and are used more often today to fix cavities. Composites are not silver like amalgam. Instead, they match the color of your teeth.
Gingivitis is inflammation or swelling of the gum tissue, but it does not affect the bone and is reversible. It is usually caused by not brushing and flossing enough.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This can refer to anything from a clicking jaw to headaches from jaw joints that are not working correctly together.
No, this isn’t your high school math class! Calculus refers to dental plaque that has hardened on the teeth. Can't remove this stuff with your toothbrush, folks. Only metal instruments can remove calculus.
This is the medical term for bad breath. Some people just have bad breath after eating onions, but halitosis generally refers to something more permanent.
16. Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease happens in the gum and bone around your teeth. It is usually caused by not removing plaque or calculus in a timely manner. Not reversible.
Not leprosy. This is just a technical term for a sore or wound in your mouth. A lesion is something that is out of the norm and worth the dentist taking a close look at or doing something about.