It’s time for a check up of your dental knowledge!
So here is bite size A-Z of dental terms to help you stay in tune with the rapidly changing dental world.
Abrasion – this is the wear of teeth caused by rubbing and scraping and is often a by-product of incorrect brushing, tooth grinding or the use of hard-bristled tooth brushes. Once the cause has been identified treatments can be recommended ranging from changes in oral hygiene or toothpaste through to the placement of a restoration to aid in reducing the progression of further tooth loss.
Bruxism – excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching usually during sleep not related to normal functions such as eating or talking. Symptoms commonly associated with bruxism, include hypersensitive teeth, aching jaw muscles, headaches, tooth wear, and damage to dental restorations (e.g. crowns and fillings) to teeth.
A night guard often minimizes the impact of bruxism.
Crowns – artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth.
Crowns are an ideal way to repair teeth that have been broken or weakened by decay or large fillings. Crown can also be used in scenarios where you have discoloured fillings and would like to improve the appearance of the tooth or to protect the remainder of the tooth following a root filling.
Diastema – mind the gap…this is the space that is seen between your teeth, most commonplace between your front incisors and molars.
These gaps are caused by an imbalance in the relationship between the jaw and the size of teeth and may be readily corrected through a programme of orthodontics or cosmetic dentistry.
Endodontics – this is the specialization concerned with the treatment of dental pulp most commonly known as root canal treatment. This is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (the ‘pulp’) is infected through decay or injury.
You may not feel any pain in the early stages of the infection and in some cases your tooth could darken in colour, which may mean that the nerve of the tooth is dying. This procedure is often provided by an Endodontist such as Dr. Stefan Ciapryna.
Fluoride – a natural mineral found in many foods and in all drinking water. Fluoride can greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce. Always make sure you buy a Fluoride based tooth paste this can repair early decay and prevent cavities.
Gingivitis – means ‘inflammation of the gums’. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when they are brushed during cleaning. This is often combatted by putting in place a regime of effective tooth brushing and interdental cleaning. More complex treatments may require a specialist Periodontist such as Dr. Evdokia Chasioti.
Halitosis – simply a posh way of describing “bad breath!”. This common problem has a diversity of causes. Persistent bad breath is usually caused by the smelly gases released by the bacteria that coat your teeth, gums and tongue.
Also, bits of food that get caught between the teeth and on the tongue will rot and can sometimes cause an unpleasant smell. It is crucial that you brush your teeth correctly and regularly and visit our hygienist Natasha Joshi a couple of times a year.
Implants – a dental implant is used to support one or more false teeth. It is a titanium screw that can replace the root of a tooth when it fails. Just like a tooth root, it is placed into the jawbone.
Implants are a safe, well-established treatment. It’s probably true to say that implants, much like natural teeth, will last for as long as you care for them. The world of implant surgery is constantly evolving, and we can even offer treatments such as teeth in a day.
Dr. Zaki Kanaan is a specialist provider of this service at Gardens Dental Centre.
Jawbone – This is the hard bone that supports the face and acts as an anchor for the teeth. The upper jaw is known as the “maxilla>” and the lower jaw is the mandible. The term for when the jaws bite together is called dental occlusion. If your teeth don’t fit together properly, you may have problems not only in your teeth themselves, but also in the gums via the “temporo-mandibular joint” or the muscles that move your jaw. These problems are called ‘occlusal’ problems.
Keratin – is one of a family of fibrous structural proteins. It is the key structural material making up hair, horns, claws, hooves, and the outer layer of human skin. Keratin is one of the things that separates teeth from bones. Keratin is also present in epithelial cells of tooth germ and a thin film of keratin is present on a recently erupted tooth.
Lichen Planus – is a long-lasting disease, often observed as white patches on the lining of the mouth, cheeks or gums. It is more frequent in women than men and symptoms usually develop from middle age onwards. The origin of this ailment is unknown but is suspected to be caused by slight weakness’ in the body’s immune (defence) system. ally oral lichen planus only needs to be treated when there are painful symptoms. Treatment is affected by putting a corticosteroid cream on the area. Some areas may need other treatments, such as immunosuppressants applied to the area.
Follow any advice your dental team may give you. This may include avoiding things that make the condition worse, such as spicy foods and things you may be allergic to. Your dentist may also refer you to your doctor or a specialist for further investigations.
Malocclusion – this is a misalignment of the teeth and jaws and results in a wobbly bite. Overcrowding of teeth is a common cause for this condition and can be treated with orthodontics, often with tooth extraction, clear aligners, or dental braces, followed by growth modification in children or jaw surgery in adults.
Jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery is sometimes required to reshape, lengthen or shorten the jaw.
Night Guard – a removable appliance that fits over the teeth and it is used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding, clenching or gnashing of teeth during sleep.
A nightguard can be the answer to a good night’s sleep, decreased frequency of headaches and protecting your teeth from the damage done by grinding or clenching. see also Bruxism.
Orthodontics – A special field in dentistry which involves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of bite abnormalities or facial irregularities. Many people have crowded or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position.
This can improve their appearance and the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean. When the teeth don’t meet correctly, this can put strain on the muscles of the jaw, causing jaw and joint problems and sometimes headaches. Orthodontic treatment can help you to bite more evenly and reduce the strain. Our website highlights numerous treatments on offer to help straighten teeth.
Periodontics – A specialty of dentistry which focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the tissues supporting teeth. Looking after your gums is just as important as looking after your teeth. They act like cushions, surrounding the teeth in the jaw and helping to support them.
Gums that bleed when you brush could be a sign of the gum disease gingivitis which, if left untreated, can develop into periodontitis. This affects the entire surrounding area and could result in your losing a tooth.
If you have concerns, or your regular dental check-up reveals loose teeth, inflammation in your mouth or bleeding gums, our dentists will advise on and offer whatever periodontal treatment you might need. Once again a range of specialist periodontal treatment is offered through Dr. Evdokia Chasioti.
Quadrant – Anyone who has purchased an electric tooth brush in the past few years, should be familiar with the breakdown of the mouth into the 4 quadrants, as the electric tooth brush challenges you to brush each quadrant (front and back) for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Split over both jaws, each quadrant begins in the middle of the arch and extends all the way to the last tooth, which is usually a wisdom tooth.
Restoration – A generic term for a replacement for a lost tooth structure or teeth. This could be dentures, bridges, fillings, crowns or implants of any kind. A dental restoration or dental filling is a treatment that restores the function, integrity, and morphology of a missing tooth structure resulting from caries or external trauma as well as to the replacement of such structure supported by dental implants.
There are two broad types— direct and indirect and are often further classified by location and size. A root canal filling, for example, is a restorative technique used to fill the space where the dental pulp normally resides. A full range of restorative techniques are shown on our website.
Stomatitis – An inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture due to poor dental hygiene or a build-up of certain fungus.
It refers to any inflammatory process affecting the mucous membranes of the mouth and lips, with or without oral ulceration. In its widest meaning, stomatitis can have a multitude of different causes and appearances. Common causes include infections, nutritional deficiencies, allergic reactions, radiotherapy, and many others.
Tartar – this is also sometimes called calculus and is a form of hardened dental plaque. It is caused by precipitation of minerals from saliva onto the teeth. This process of precipitation kills the bacterial cells within dental plaque, but the rough and hardened surface that is formed provides an ideal surface for further plaque formation. This leads to calculus buildup, which compromises the health of the gums.
Regular scaling and teeth cleaning by a hygienist removes the buildup of plaque through a scale and polish. Our hygienists also offer you advice on brushing techniques, flossing and using interdental brushes.
Unerupted Tooth – An unerupted or impacted tooth is one that fails to erupt into the dental arch within the expected developmental window. … Teeth may become impacted because of adjacent teeth, dense overlying bone, excessive soft tissue or a genetic abnormality.
Most often, the cause of impaction is inadequate arch length and space in which to erupt. Teeth that fail to erupt can damage surrounding teeth gums and supporting bone and lead to the formation of tumours and cysts that can severely disrupt the jaw. Because of this risk unerupted teeth are often extracted, especially impacted wisdom teeth.
Veneers – A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural-colour ‘composite’ material is used instead of porcelain.
These thin custom-made porcelain shells are cemented to the front of the tooth to treat crooked, discoloured or chipped teeth. Veneers make teeth look natural and healthy. Because they are very thin and are held in place by a special, strong adhesive, very little preparation of the tooth is needed. Some types of veneers don’t need any preparation at all. See our website for more details relating to this treatment.
Wisdom Teeth – Adults can have up to 32 teeth and the wisdom teeth are the last to appear, right at the back of the mouth. They usually appear when you are between 17 and 25, although they may also appear many years later.
People often have jaws that are too small for all 32 teeth to fit – 28 is often the most we have room for, so if all the other teeth are present and healthy there may not be enough space for the wisdom teeth to come through properly, hence the possible need for removal. In Fairness far fewer wisdom teeth are now removed compared to 15 years ago. Wisdom Teeth are only removed when they are impacted, decayed or are causing pain and discomfort.
Xerostomia – grandiose word for a very basic problem…Dry Mouth! This is often associated with a change in the composition of saliva or reduced salivary flow.
The symptom is very common and is often seen as a side effect of many types of medication, such as drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, colds (antihistamines and decongestants), obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), urinary incontinence and asthma.
The successful treatment of xerostomia is difficult to achieve but requires pinpointing the cause and removing it if possible. The management of salivary gland dysfunction may involve the use of saliva substitutes and/or saliva stimulants such as Mucin sprays.
Yawning – Difficult to find a term starting with this letter, but as we all yawn, we thought we’d find a link, however, tenuous to a dental term! Excessive yawning can be a sign of disturbed sleep and there is often a link to snoring.
Dentists can help you with treatments for snoring using Mandibular advancement splints (MAS). These are the most common forms of intra-oral appliance used in the management of sleep breathing disorders. Though there are considerable design variations, all MAS posture the mandible forwards with a degree of vertical opening. when lying on your back, compared to lying on your side. This is a likely result of gravity on the tongue and enlarged soft palate.
Zygomatic Bone – in the human skull, the zygomatic bone (cheekbone or malar bone) is a paired bone which articulates with the maxilla, the temporal bone, the sphenoid bone and the frontal bone. It is situated at the upper and lateral part of the face and forms the prominence of the cheek, part of the lateral wall and floor of the orbit, and parts of the temporal and infratemporal fossa.