Let’s Talk Teeth- A Vocabulary Lesson Part 1.

You can read everything under the sun about oral health, but you will never fully grasp what everything means until you understand the vocabulary behind all the facts. While this may not be a college lecture hall or dentistry school, we can give you the rundown on the keywords you need to know in order to understand what the dentist is telling you, or so that you can ask more informed questions. There are many, many terms to be discussed, so let’s talk about a few in part one, going from terms beginning with A – I.

Adhesion: This is when two surfaces are held together by a chemical or physical force, with or without the use of an adhesive. An example of this is tooth bonding.



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Areas of the oral cavity: This refers to the parts of your mouth, represented by two-digit numbers. These would be the entire oral cavity (00), maxillary arch (01), mandibular arch (02), upper right quadrant (10), upper left quadrant (20), lower left quadrant (30) and lower right quadrant (40).


Artificial crown: This refers to the restoration covering or the replacement of a major part of a clinical crown of a tooth or an implant.


Bleaching: Is the process of whitening teeth, usually with a chemical oxidizing agent in the presence of heat. This process is a lesson all on its own.


Canal: This is a narrow tubular passage, often associated with a root canal, which is the space inside the root portion of a tooth that contains the pulp tissue.


Cavity: Is a missing tooth structure that has been formed to decay, erosion or abrasion.


Crown: This refers to an artificial replacement that restores the missing tooth structure. It can be made of metal, ceramic or polymer materials, sometimes a combination of all.


Cusp: Pointed or rounded distinction on or even near the grinding surface of a tooth.


Cyst: A pathological cavity that is filled with epithelium, fluid or soft matter.


Debridement: The removal of plaque and other calculus.


Decay: This means the decomposition of a tooth.


Dental Assessment: An inspection done by a dentist to look for any signs of oral disease and the need for any potential diagnosis and treatment.


Dentin: Is the hard tissue that forms on the bulk of the tooth and develops from the dental papilla and the dental pulp and thus becomes mineralized when it hits a mature state.


Enamel: The hard-calcified tissue covering the dentin of the crown, which is something we dearly protect with proper brushing.


Filling: Usually occurs when you have a cavity, it is a term for restoring lost tooth structure using metals, alloy, plastic or porcelain.


Fracture: The breaking off of part of a tooth.


Gingiva: This is when the soft tissues overly the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircling the necks of those that have erupted.


Gingivitis: The inflammation of the gingival tissue, but without the loss of connective tissue. Brushing your teeth properly and using mouth wash helps to prevent this.


Hemisection: This means the surgical separation of a multi-root tooth.


Impacted tooth: Usually occurs in wisdom teeth, but is not limited to that, an impacted tooth is one that unerupted or partially erupted that is positioned against another tooth, bone or soft tissue, so that it can never erupt fully.


Implant: In this case, a dental one, is designed to be placed surgically within/on the mandibular or maxillary bone to provide support for dental replacement.


Incisal: The biting edges of the incisor and cuspid teeth.


Incisor: Also known as your canine or vampire teeth, used for cutting or gnawing.


While there are hundreds of terms needed to fully understand the oral health world, these are some key ones that will help in your research before or after your next trip to the dentist. A dentist will always be more than happy to answer any questions you may have to help put your mind at ease. Stay tuned for part two of our oral vocabulary lesson!