Dental Terminology

DENTAL TERMINOLOGY

During the course of your dental care, you may hear or read terms which aren’t familiar. No worries-- your Southern Charm Dental team is here to guide you. We will explain your care plan in detail, describing all that is involved, including any procedures or terms that are new to you.

Remember, we are here to answer any questions or address any concerns that you may have, every step of the way. For your added convenience and general knowledge, we’ve provided this handy glossary of some commonly used dental terms and what they mean.

Amalgam – A durable blend of special materials used in making dental fillings.

Caries – The scientific term for bacterial decay causing cavities.

Composite – A type of filling that uses a durable material and matches the look and color of your natural teeth.

Crown – A prosthetic device that is cemented to an existing tooth, providing a natural-looking and fully functional replacement for a damaged tooth.

DDS – A degree in dentistry, it stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery.

DMD – Doctor of Dental Medicine. Another degree in dentistry, used by some accredited dental schools instead of a DDS.

Dental Implant – To replace a missing or damaged tooth, this device replicates your natural tooth and is attached to a special post anchored into the jaw.

Dentin – One of the major components of your teeth. It supports the enamel and gives your teeth their natural color.

Dry Mouth – A condition, formally known as xerostomia, where the mouth does not produce sufficient saliva to provide moisture. This can have several causes including stress, medications, and smoking. It can cause difficulty chewing or swallowing, promote tooth decay and irritate the gums.

Enamel – The hard outer surface of your teeth. Protecting your teeth is its primary function, so your dental care will stress cleaning, flossing and brushing that preserves this mineral surface from decay.

Endodontist – Specialist who cares for the interior of your teeth, beneath the enamel. Endodontics concerns the care of the pulp, other tissue and nerves of your teeth.

Gingivitis – A scientific term for a form of gum disease. It appears as an inflammation of the gums and is caused by plaque, which is a bacterium that builds on the surface of teeth if not brushed and cleaned regularly.

Impacted Tooth – A scientific term for a form of gum disease. It appears as an inflammation of the gums and is caused by plaque, which is a bacterium that builds on the surface of teeth if not brushed and cleaned regularly.

Malocclusion – A scientific term for an abnormal bite. When the teeth of the upper and lower jaws do not align properly, this is called a malocclusion.

Orthodontist – A dentist who works specifically to correct abnormalities in your teeth, such as malocclusions, crowded or crooked teeth.

Oral & Maxifillacial Surgeon – A doctor who works as an orthopedic surgeon of the facial area and performs surgery on the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth and jaws.

Overdenture – A type of denture, or replacement teeth, that is held in place by dental implants.

Periodontal Disease – Another term for gum disease. Depending on the type of gum disease, and at what stage it is detected, symptoms can range from simple inflammation to hard or soft tissue damage.

Planing – A cleaning procedure usually accompanied by scaling. This is when your dentist cleans out the roots of your teeth (scaling) to remove plaque and other bacteria, then smooths the root surfaces (planing) to prevent further buildup of bacteria.

Plaque – A film that forms on the surface of your teeth. Composed of bacteria, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease when left untreated.

Pulp – Connective tissue at the center of the tooth which provides nutrients to the tooth.

Root Canal – A durable blend of special materials used in making dental fillings. A cleaning procedure where the pulp in the roots of an infected or decayed tooth is cleaned out, then sealed to prevent further infection or decay.

Scaling – This is when your dentist cleans out the roots of your teeth to remove plaque and other bacteria.

Sealants – Dental sealants act as protective barriers against decay or cavities. Think of sealants as a “clear coat” on your teeth.

TMJ/TMD - Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. The joint (TMJ) between your jaw and the temporal bones of the skull (TMD) can be affected by a variety of issues.