Common Dentals Terms Explained

Have you found yourself at a loss for words and having not a clue about what your dentist is telling you? While it is encouraged that you ask your dentist for further explanation, it wouldn’t hurt if you have an inkling on some dental terms beforehand.

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We’ve all been there, the dentist outlining the type of treatment you need and you having no idea what it really means. You are probably quite aware of what a filling is and also what a cavity is, you may also have probably heard of tooth decay, but what about endodontic treatment? Any ideas?

Before undergoing procedures such as root canal or endodontic treatment in Sydney or in any other cities, the dentist handling your case will be explaining everything to you. As the vast majority of us have never attended dental school, it will be helpful on your part to have a bit of an idea what your dentist will be talking about, and this article will attempt to unlock some of the mystery from these dental terms and outline the procedures in plain English. There are of course many other dental terms that you might hear from time to time, but the most common ones are detailed below.

Please see below for a list of terms and what they actually mean.

Common Dental Terms And What They Actually Are

As previously stated, you may have already heard of some of the terms detailed below but perhaps not know what they actually mean.

  • Filling – to fill a hole (cavity) in a tooth
  • Abscess– an infection in the tooth, soft tissue or bone
  • Bite– relationship between upper and lower jaw when closed
  • Bleaching– chemical process used to lighten or whiten existing teeth
  • Braces– devices designed and fitted by orthodontist to align teeth correctly
  • Bridge– a fixed partial denture to replace one or more missing teeth
  • Cosmetic Dentistry– a field of dentistry used to lighten or reshape teeth (bleaching is one of the procedures available)
  • Crown– dental restoration that covers all or part of the damaged natural tooth; made of metal, porcelain or composite
  • Decay– destruction of teeth caused by bacteria
  • Denture– removable or permanent artificial teeth
  • Enamel– the hard material that covers the outside bit of the tooth that lies above the gumline
  • Endodontics– an area of dentistry that concentrates on the biology and pathology of dental pulp and root tissues
  • Root Canal Treatment– an endodontic dental procedure (see above)
  • Extraction– tooth removal
  • Fluoride– a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent decay; present in most toothpastes and can also be applied by a dentist
  • Implant– a metal rod that is placed in the upper or lower jawbone which serves as a tooth root or crown anchor
  • Paediatric Dentist– a dentist that specialises in treating young children
  • Plaque –a sticky film of undigested food mixed with saliva and bacteria that can cause gum disease and other oral health problems if left untreated
  • Veneer – a custom made shell that is applied to the tooth to improve appearance
  • X-Ray– allows the dentist a detailed look at elements that are not visible with a regular inspection


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All of the above dentistry terms are in common usage in Australia and across the world. If you require further information regarding any other dental term or procedure, just ask your dentist.