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Dental Glossary

When it comes to dentistry and orthodontics, there are numerous terms for describing the procedures, appliances, and related anatomy. However, not all of these terms are well-known. That’s why we compiled this dental glossary to define many of the common terms you may encounter on this site, or in the dentist office. For further information about any of these topics, you can ask your dentist in person, or call Bright Side Dental at 1-800-PAINLESS.


Abrasion

Abrasion is the wearing away of the surface of the tooth through the process of continued rubbing, grinding, or other types of friction.

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All-on-4 Implants

All-on-4 implants restore your teeth by securing all the replacement teeth for your top or bottom jaw on just four dental implants. This eliminates the need for dentures and gives you a new set of permanent teeth.

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All-On-6 Implants

All-on-6 implants are six dental implants that are put in place to secure a new set of replacement teeth on your top or bottom jaw. This procedure is simple and will give you a full set of teeth in one sitting. Within hours you could be chewing again with a full set of teeth.

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Bicuspid

A bicuspid is a tooth, also known as a pre-molar, that has two points or “cusps”.

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Biolase

Biolase is a medical device company that makes the EPIC laser, which is used to treat TMJ disorder at Bright Side Dental.

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Braces

In orthodontics, braces are metal wires that are affixed to the teeth to straighten their position and bring your bite into alignment. Braces are a common orthodontic treatment that most people receive when they are young and their adult teeth have fully grown in. However, there is no age cut off for braces. 

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Bruxism

Bruxism is the term used to describe the grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw that can lead to symptoms such as sensitive teeth, aching jaws, and headaches. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of bruxism, call or visit Bright Side Dental and we can help treat this condition.

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Canine

Also known as “cuspids”, canine teeth are the longer pointed teeth on either side of the incisors in your top and bottom jaws. They are used for cutting and slicing through food as you chew.

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Cavity

Cavities, also known as caries, are small holes formed in teeth due to dental decay. Dental decay can be caused by acids from foods that remain on your teeth if you do not brush often enough. A cavity can be treated by receiving a filling to seal the hole in the tooth.

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Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is the practice of replacing, repairing, and otherwise improving the overall appearance of a patient’s smile. This is done through several techniques, including teeth whitening, the appliance of dental crowns, porcelain veneers, dental bridges, and more.

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Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is the process of applying a tooth-colored resin in order to repair chipped or discolored teeth. Dental bonding can be done in one short visit to the dentist office. It is pain free and requires no anesthesia unless it is for a decayed tooth.

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Dental Bridges

When there is a gap in a patient’s mouth between two teeth, a dental bridge is used to cover it. This is done by affixing a crown to each tooth on either side of the gap to hold a replacement tooth in place.

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Dental Crown

A dental crown is a kind of cap that is placed over the top of a damaged tooth to restore the tooth to its original shape and protect it from further harm.

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Dental Filling

When a tooth has a space that can be infected by bacteria, as in the case of cavities, the space is filled in with restorative materials which are referred to as a dental filling.

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Dental Implants

Dental implants are how dentists attach new replacement teeth in one’s mouth. The implant itself is a small metal post that is surgically placed in the jaw.

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Dentin

Beneath the tooth’s top layer of enamel lies the dentin. Dentin is the second hardest part of the tooth behind the enamel and makes up most of the tooth’s mass.

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Dentures

Dentures are a removable set of replacement teeth. They can be either a full or partial set of teeth, for the top or bottom jaw. Many people both old and young use dentures to improve their eating ability, speech, and the look of their smile.

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DMD

DMD stands for Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry. A DMD has the same qualifications and training as a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). Whether a dentist is a DMD or a DDS is only dependent on where they received their training from, as the preferred term varies from school to school.

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Enamel

Enamel is what makes up the outer layer of your teeth. It is mineralized and semi-translucent. It is also the hardest part of your tooth, and your entire body.

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Endodontist

An endodontist is any dentist who specializes in taking care of the inner part of the tooth. They perform procedures dealing with the pulp inside a tooth. These procedures are referred to as endodontic therapy, usually meaning a root canal.

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Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that has been shown to aid in the growing of bones as well as the strengthening of tooth enamel in both children and adults. Fluoride is a natural mineral found in the earth and foods in nature. It is often added to water to help strengthen teeth and it used in most toothpastes.

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Fluoride Treatment

Dentists can give fluoride treatments, which have more concentrated amounts of fluoride than over-the-counter fluoride products. It’s usually applied as a gel or a foam that will stay on the teeth for a certain amount of time.

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Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a form of periodontitis. It causes inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can be prevented by regular brushing and check ups with your dentist.

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Incisor

Incisors are the four thinner teeth located at the front of the top and bottom jaws. They are important for both aesthetic and functional purposes. The functional purpose of Incisors is to help with cutting and slicing into food as you chew.

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Invisalign

Invisalign is an alternative to braces that comes in the form of clear, thin aligners that fit over the teeth. They are just as effective at straightening teeth as traditional braces without the noticeable wires.

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Laser Dentistry

Rather than using a drill, laser dentistry can make performing dental procedures painless with the use of a laser. This intense beam of light doesn’t hurt and is faster than a drill, while also preventing any risk of cross contamination.

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Molar

The molars are the large teeth in the back of the mouth used for crushing and grinding food.

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Oral Cancer

Several different types of cancer fall under the category of oral cancer. Any cancer forming in the area of the throat or mouth, including the tongue, lips, cheek, or tonsils are considered oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings are a routine part of dental exams at Bright Side Dental.

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Orthodontics

Orthodontics is the practice of aligning and straightening teeth with the help of braces, retainers, and other dental appliances.

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Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a fairly common, yet preventable, disease that causes inflammation of the gums. Periodontal disease usually occurs when a condition like gingivitis is allowed to progress without being taken care of.

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Periodontics

The branch of dentistry known as periodontics cares for the surrounding structures of the teeth including the gums and jawbone.

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Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a serious infection of the gums in which inflammation around the teeth can cause them to loosen. It is treatable by medical professionals, however it is very preventable as well. Only in very severe cases is surgery required.

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Porcelain Veneers

In cosmetic dentistry, porcelain veneers are bonded to the front of one’s existing teeth to improve the shape, size, and color, providing a beautiful and uniform looking set of teeth. However, unlike Lumineers, they sometimes require enamel to be removed from the original teeth in order to achieve the proper fit.

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Premolar

A premolar is one of the two teeth on each side of the jaw that are located between the canine teeth and the molars. Most adults will have eight premolars.

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Premolar

A premolar is one of the two teeth on each side of the jaw that are located between the canine teeth and the molars. They are considered “transitional” teeth and usually have at least two cusps, similar to canines. Most adults will have eight premolars.

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Prosthodontist

A prosthodontist is a dentist who specializes in cosmetic dental procedures that improve the overall appearance of one’s smile. Procedures include replacing teeth with bridges and implants. A prosthodontist will have had three to four additional years of training following dental school.

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Pulp

Dental pulp is the one living part of the tooth, located at the center. It is made up of blood vessels and connective tissue and if it is infected, it must be removed with a root canal procedure.

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Retainer

A retainer is a device used in orthodontics that attaches to the teeth to help straighten them and keep them aligned. A retainer can be either fixed or removable depending on the specific needs of a patient.

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Root Canal

A root canal procedure is required when the pulp in the center of the tooth becomes infected. A root canal will remove the infected pulp, clean, and then reseal the space.

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Sedation Dentistry

Sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” sedation dentistry is used for patients that have anxiety when it comes to dental treatment, or who are otherwise very sensitive to pain. Dentists can give these patients medication to calm them during a dental procedure. Sleep dentistry is not an entirely accurate term for sedation, as patients usually stay awake but are more relaxed and won’t feel any pain.

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that can seriously affect one’s breathing at night. The main symptom is that breathing will repeatedly stop and start while one sleeps. It is actually quite common, but can also be dangerous if not treated. If you are concerned about sleep apnea, a Bright Side Dental dentist can examine you and recommend the correct treatment.

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Smile Gems

Smile gems are Swarovski crystals that can be applied to one’s tooth for a little extra flash in one’s smile. They cause no pain and require no changes to your regular eating and drinking habits.

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Special Care Dentistry

Special Care Dentistry is dental treatment that is offered for those with special needs. Patients with down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or autism often require extra attention and awareness from a dental staff. Bright Side Dental is proud to offer special care dentistry for adults and children over the age of 12.

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Teeth Cleaning

A professional teeth cleaning from a licensed dentist will clean teeth much deeper than regular brushing, and can help remove tartar and plaque buildup on all parts of a patient’s teeth. A teeth cleaning is one of many services offered by a general dentist at each regular checkup.

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Teeth Whitening

If you wish to whiten your teeth, it is safest to do so under the guidance of a dental specialist. There are many different over-the-counter treatment options that have been shown to have varying degrees of success, but having a dentist whiten your teeth is a guaranteed way to receive a whiter smile, with no risk involved. There are a few different procedures dentists can perform for teeth whitening.

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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a term used to describe a dysfunction with the temporomandibular joint in one’s jaw that can cause pain when chewing and talking. It is also known as TMJ disorder, for short.

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Tooth Extraction

Extraction is the term used to refer to the pulling of a tooth by a qualified dental specialist. Extractions can be done for a number of reasons depending on the needs of the patient. A few of these reasons include decayed teeth, baby teeth that haven’t fallen out, or wisdom teeth.

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Toothache

“Toothache” is the general term used to describe any pain in a tooth. A toothache can have varying degrees of pain and the causes can vary. For an accurate diagnosis and treatment, contact your dentist if you have a toothache.

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Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the molars that are furthest back in one’s mouth. Most people usually have four that grown in around the ages of 17-20 years old. Often, wisdom teeth are removed if there is not enough room in a patient’s mouth for them to grown in.

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