There are many terms that are used by dentists while they are providing care to their patients. Some of these will be familiar to you, and others, not so much. These terms are also used daily by dentists’ staff in the course of maintaining patient records and preparing claims.

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However, new patients and employees may not be as familiar – and over time new terms come into use and old terms are revised. That’s why we are sharing this helpful list from the American Dental Association with 35 dental terms and definitions – enjoy!

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  1. Amalgam: silver/mercury alloy used to fill cavities.
  2. Bleaching: cosmetic whitening of teeth using peroxide.
  3. Caries: cavities, tooth decay.
  4. Carcinogenic: cancer-causing.
  5. Cariogenic: decay-causing.
  6. Composites: tooth-colored restorative materials.
  7. Cosmetic Dentistry: aesthetic improvement of the color and shape of teeth performed by a general dentist.
  8. Edentulous: having lost most or all of the natural teeth.
  9. Endodontist: treats oral conditions that arise as a result of disease or injury of the dental pulp of the tooth, such as a root canal.
  10. General Dentist: primary care provider for patients in all age groups who take responsibility for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services to meet patients’ oral health needs.
  11. Geriatric dentist: general dentist who primarily treats senior citizens.
  12. Gingivitis: reversible inflammation of gum tissue not including the bone.
  13. Malocclusion: misalignment of teeth and or jaws.
  14. Microair abrasion: a drill-free technique using an instrument resembling a tiny sand blaster that delivers tiny aluminum oxide particles to the surface, where they cut away the decayed area.
  15. Mouthguards: an appliance used to protect teeth from injury.
  16. Occlusal Surface: the chewing surface of the tooth.
  17. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: treats and surgically corrects diseases, injuries, and defects of the mouth and jaws.
  18. Oral Pathologist: examines oral tissues for evidence of suspected abnormalities such as cancer
  19. Orthodontics a branch of dentistry dealing with irregularities of the teeth and their correction, as by means of braces and retainer.
  20. Orthodontist: designs and applies corrective and supportive appliances, braces, to realign crooked teeth.
  21. Pediatric Dentist: provides treatment and care for children from birth through adolescence.
  22. Periodontal Disease: inflammation and irritation of the gums which, if left untreated, can cause the jawbone and teeth to deteriorate and fall out.
  23. Periodontist: diagnoses and treats diseases of the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth, especially periodontal disease.
  24. Plaque: bacterial colonies which have mineralized and attack teeth, causing dental decay.
  25. Porcelain Veneers: ultra-thin shells of ceramic material bonded to the front of the tooth.
  26. Prophylaxis: professional cleaning of the teeth by a dentist or hygienist.
  27. Prosthodontist: constructs artificial appliances designed to restore and maintain oral function by replacing missing teeth and other oral structures such as dentures.
  28. Radiosurgery: surgery technique that uses radio waves to produce a pressureless, bloodless incision; can also be used to heat bleaching agents.
  29. Resin: plastic material used in bonding, restorative, and replacement procedures.
  30. Restorative Dentistry: process of restoring missing, damaged or diseased teeth to normal form and function, performed by general dentists.
  31. Sealant: plastic coating used to protect teeth from decay.
  32. Special Patient: person with a disability who requires particular dental care needs.
  33. Third Molars: wisdom teeth.
  34. TMD: temporomandibular disorder; problems relating to your temporomandibular joint which include locking of the jaw, frequent headaches, sore jaw muscles, and painful clicking of the jaw.
  35. TMJ: temporomandibular joint.



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