Glossary

Abscess
An abcess is a complication of tooth decay. It may also result from trauma to the tooth, such as when a tooth is broken or chipped. Openings in the tooth enamel allow bacteria to infect the center of the tooth (the pulp). Infection may spread out from the root of the tooth and to the bones supporting the tooth. An abcess results in a collection of pus (dead tissue, live and dead bacteria, white blood cells) and swelling of the tissues within the tooth. This causes a painful toothache. If the root of the tooth dies, the toothache may stop, unless an abcess develops. This is especially true if the infection remains active and continues to spread and destroy tissue. If there is swelling and fever, an antibiotic is prescribed before root canal therapy.
Anxiety Free dentistry
For those who have feared going to the dentist because they have had a bad experience with another dentist, or have left their teeth go and fear that dental procedures will be very expensive, anxiety free dentistry will make going back to the dentist a much more pleasant experience. An anxiety free dentist will first visit with you and answer all your questions and review your concerns about the sedation dental procedure. On the day of your next visit, you will take a sedative and arrive at your appointed time. You will not be aware of any of the dental work that is being done nor will you feel any pain. You will just enjoy a nice rest and feel a little drowsey when the work has been completed. Sedation dentistry is now very common and readily accepted by patients who have always avoided the dentist out of fear.
Aphthous Ulcer
An aphthous ulcer, also referred to as a canker sore, is a type of oral ulcer which is a very painful open sore found inside the mouth or upper throat, and which is caused by a break in the mucous membrane. The condition is also known as aphthous stomatitis, and alternatively as “Sutton’s Disease,” in the case of multiple or recurring ulcers. Aphthous ulcers more commonly affect young adults, and a tendency towards developing them may exist if other family members have experienced this same type ulcer. Stress, physical or chemical trauma, food sensitivity and infection also have been proposed as possible causes.
Arch Expander
A dental arch expander is one best examples of early pediatric orthodontic treatment still used today. A dental arch expander can often be used to create a proper alignment of the arches so that permanent teeth have room to erupt in a natural position. The timely use of a dental arch expander will effectively minimize or eliminate at all the need for braces when the patient gets older.
Bridges
Bridges, also known as a fixed partial denture, are dental restorations used to replace a missing tooth by joining permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants.
Cavities
Dental cavities are breakdowns in the tooth structure caused by the common occurrence of tooth decay. They can be prevented. Most dental cavities are discovered in the early stages during routine checkups. The surface of the tooth may be soft when probed with a sharp instrument. Pain may not be present until the advanced stages of tooth decay. Digital x-rays may show some cavities before they are visible to the eye. Destroyed tooth structures do not regenerate. However, the progression of dental cavities can be stopped by treatment. The goal is to preserve the tooth and prevent complications.
Composite Fillings
Composite fillings are types of synthetic resins which are used in dentistry as restorative material or adhesives. Unlike amalgam, which essentially just fills a hole and requires retention features to hold the filling, composite fillings restorations, when used with dentin and enamel bonding techniques, restore the tooth back to near its original physical integrity.
Cosmetic Bonding
Cosmetic bonding is a process in which an enamel-like dental composite material is applied to a tooth’s surface, sculpted into shape, hardened and then polished.
Dental Bonding
Dental bonding is a dental procedure in which a dentist applies a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) and hardens it with a special light. This ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth and improves the overall appearance of teeth.
Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are used if decay is extensive and there is limited tooth structure, which may cause weakened teeth. Large fillings and weak teeth increase the risk of the tooth breaking. The decayed or weakened area is removed and repaired. A covering jacket or “cap” (dental crown) is fitted over the remainder of the tooth.
Dental Implants
Dental implants are “root” devices, usually made of titanium, and used in dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth to replace missing teeth.
Dental Lab
A Dental Lab (Dental laboratories) manufactures and/or customizes a variety of products to assist in the provision of oral health care by a licensed dentist. These products include crowns, bridges, dentures and other dental products. Dental lab technicians follow a prescription from a licensed dentist when manufacturing these items, which include prosthetic devices (such as dentures, cast, partial dentures and implants) and therapeutic devices (such as orthodontic devices).
Dental Sealants
Dental sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Dental Sealants are very affordable, especially in view of the valuable decay protection it offers.
Dental Spacers
Dental spacers or Space Maintainers are removable or fixed passive appliances designed to prevent tooth movement and generally are placed following tooth extraction(s) or in cases of congenitally missing teeth. Spacers allow the free movement of new teeth coming into place and keeps the bite even, preventing a more serious malocclusion.
Dentures
Dentures (also known as false teeth) are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth, and which are supported by surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Conventional dentures are removable, however there are many different denture designs, some which rely on bonding or clasping onto teeth or dental implants.
Discoloration
Tooth discoloration or abnormal tooth color is anything other than the white to yellowish-white of normal teeth. Tooth discoloration can be caused by many different factors. Some can actually influence the formation of the enamel, while others simply cause the staining of enamel. Tooth discoloration may be uniform or may appear as spots or lines in the enamel. Discolored areas may also have a different density and porosity than normal enamel.
Endodontics – Glossary Term
Endodontics is one of the dental specialities recognized by the American Dental Association, and deals with the tooth pulp and the tissues surrounding the root of a tooth. Endodontists perform a variety of procedures including root canal therapy, endodontic retreatment, surgery, treating cracked teeth, and treating dental trauma. Root canal therapy is one of the most common procedures. If the pulp (containing nerves, arterioles, venules, lymphatic tissue, and fibrous tissue) becomes diseased or injured, endodontic treatment is required to save the tooth.
Fluoride
Fluoride is one of the best defenses against tooth decay! Using fluoride toothpaste and water is usually the best source for your child receiving its benefits. Children, between the ages of six months and 16 years, may require these supplements. Our pediatric dentists at Reardon Dental, will consider many different factors before recommending any supplement. Your child’s age, risk of developing dental decay, and the different liquids your child drinks are important considerations. Bottled, filtered and well waters vary in their fluoride amount, so a water analysis may sometimes be necessary to ensure your child is receiving the proper amount.
Impacted Teeth
Impacted teeth fail to fully pass through the gums. Teeth emerge through the gums during infancy, and when the primary (baby) teeth are replaced by the permanent teeth. If a tooth fails to emerge, or emerges only partially, it is impacted. Because they are the last teeth to emerge, the most common teeth to become impacted are the wisdom teeth (the third set of molars), which normally emerge between the ages of 17 and 21. Impacted wisdom teeth are very common. They are often painless and cause no apparent trouble. However, sometimes impacted teeth will push on the next tooth, which pushes the next tooth, eventually causing a misalignment of the bite.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are somewhat the same. In dentistry, an inlay is an indirect restoration (filling) consisting of a solid substance (as gold or porcelain) fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place. An onlay is the same as an inlay, except that it extends to replace a cusp. Crowns are onlays which completely cover all surfaces of a tooth.
Invisalign Orthodontics
Invisalign Orthodontics is a series of clear, removable teeth aligners that both orthodontists and dentists use as an alternative to traditional metal dental braces. Invisalign orthodontics is completely transparent, therefore far more difficult to detect than traditional wire and bracket braces. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces, which are commonly worn by children and adolescents. In addition, Invisalign orthodontics is marketed as being more comfortable than braces. Due to the removable nature of the device, food can be consumed without the encumbrance of metallic braces.
Malocclusion
Malocclusion refers to the alignment of teeth and the way that the upper and lower teeth fit together (bite). Ideally, all upper teeth fit slightly over the lower teeth. The points of the molars fit the grooves of the opposing molar. All teeth are aligned, straight, and spaced proportionally. The upper teeth keep the cheeks and lips from being bitten and the lower teeth protect the tongue. Malocclusion is the most common reason for referral to an orthodontist. Very few people have perfect occlusion. However, most occlusion problems are so minor that they do not require treatment.
Metal Free Fillings
Metal free fillings are more attractive and these types of fillings also prevent the often experienced side effects of metal fillings like toothaches and broken teeth. Metal free fillings intercept the potential of fracture before a patient experiences the symptoms of hot/cold sensitivity and biting pain. This makes it more possible to preserve the remaining healthy tooth structure. By using this proactive rather than reactive approach to amalgam replacement, many of our patients are happy to report having had a superior experience in having metal free fillings done while eliminating unnecessary pain.
Mouth Guards
Mouth guards prevent teeth from clenching, pivots your jaw forward, and relieves pressure so your body can unleash its potential. Mouth guards, such as Armourbite™, increase strength, improve endurance, reduce athletic stress and reduce impact.
Nitrous Oxide
Many children are calm, comfortable, and confident in a pediatric dental office. Because pediatric dentists specialize in treating children, they make children feel special. Sometimes, however, a child feels anxious during treatment. Your child may need more support than a gentle, caring manner to feel comfortable. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a safe, effective technique to calm a child’s fear of the dental visit. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. When inhaled, it is absorbed by the body and has a calming effect. It is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is non-addictive. It is mild, easily taken, then quickly eliminated by the body. Your child remains fully conscious, keeps all natural reflexes.
Open Bite
If your upper and lower front teeth don’t meet when you bite down, this is called an open bite. Because the front teeth don’t share equally in the biting force, the back teeth may receive too much pressure. This makes chewing less efficient. It can lead to premature wear of the back teeth. Malocclusion or the misalignment of the upper and lower jaws is another more generic term for the condition called open bite.
Orthodontics
Orthodontics is the first specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.
Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. If left untreated, the teeth will loosen from the gum resulting in eventual loss of teeth. The main cause of this disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. You might think that this disease will only be found in adults but studies show that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is found in children and teens. Chronic gingivitis is found in children who exhibit swollen gum tissue, which is red and bleeds without difficulty. reinvent gingivitis with a regular routine of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. Gingivitis, if not treated, can lead to aggressive periodontitis which affects young teens’ first molars and incisors. Be aware that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, this may be an early sign of systemic disease such as diabetes. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children so that the appropriate treatment can begin.
Porcelain Veneers
Porcelain Veneers, also referred to as dental veneers or porcelain laminates, are wafer thin shells of porcelain that are bonded to the front of teeth to create a cosmetic improvement and sometimes a bite improvement. Porcelain veneers have successfully improved smiles by making dark teeth look lighter and healthier looking. They can make yellow teeth permanently whiter and gray tetracycline stained teeth look much more natural. Porcelain veneers can make crooked teeth look straight in just a few days. Patient’s can look and feel more confident, more professional and have a wonderfully natural looking smile.
Pulpectomy
A pulpectomy or root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the center of the tooth. The tooth’s nerve lies within root canals, which lie within the roots or “legs” of the tooth. The root canals travel from the tip of the tooth’s root into the pulp chamber, which also contains blood vessels and connective tissue that nourish the tooth.
Pulpotomy
Your child’s primary teeth are not only small but the enamel covering them is very thin. Tooth decay can therefore move into the central pulp or nerve area of their teeth much easier than with permanent teeth. When this happens, we use a procedure called “pulpotomy” which is the removal of some pulp or nerve tissue above the gum line where the decay has entered. After a thorough cleaning, a layer of sedative filling material is then placed in the cavity to protect the remaining nerve tissue. The remainder of the tooth is filled with either a composite material or a stainless steel dental crown, depending on the areas of the tooth that was affected.
Supermumerary Teeth
Supernumerary teeth, a condition also known as hyperdontia, are extra teeth that develop in addition to the normal 32. Supernumerary teeth most likely will cause crowding, leading to poor oral hygiene and a need for orthodontic treatment. Dentists will see the development of this condition using x-rays. Extra teeth are extracted as early as possible to prevent shifting and crowding. The most common sites, for supernumerary teeth, are just behind the upper teeth, behind the teeth directly in front of your molars, or can be found in the back teeth/wisdom teeth area.
Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking is a normal activity with its peak occurrence at about age two. Thumb sucking can be an important source of pleasure for an infant and is usually nothing to worry about since a child will usually grow out of the habit. If thumb sucking occurs past age four, dental problems may occur such as malocclusion. Malocclusion is the abnormal contact between the teeth of the upper and lower jaw.
Tooth Extractions
A dental extraction (also referred to as exodontia) is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. Extractions are performed for a wide variety of reasons, including tooth decay that has destroyed enough tooth structure to render the tooth non-restorable. Extractions of impacted or problematic wisdom teeth are routinely performed, as are extractions of some permanent teeth to make space for orthodontic treatment.
Tooth Whitening/Bleach
Tooth whitening bleach, also known as just tooth whitening, is a common procedure in general dentistry but most especially in the field of cosmetic dentistry. A child’s deciduous teeth are generally whiter than the adult teeth that follow. As a person ages the adult teeth often become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth, as the enamel becomes less porous. Teeth can also become stained by bacterial pigments, foodstuffs and tobacco. Certain antibiotic medications can also cause teeth stains or a reduction in the brilliance of the enamel.
Toothache
A toothache is generally the result of dental cavities or tooth decay or sometimes an infection (tooth abcess). Tooth decay is often caused by poor dental hygiene, although the tendency to get tooth decay is partly inherited. Sometimes, pain in other locations is perceived as occurring in the teeth (this is called referred pain or radiating pain). Over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen may be used while waiting to be seen. If your child is in serious pain, we will always arrange an emergency visit. For toothaches caused by a tooth abscess, the dentist may recommend antibiotic therapy and other treatments, such as a root canal. To prevent tooth decay, use good oral hygiene. A low sugar diet is recommended along with regular flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and regular visits to our office for cleaning and checkups. Sealants and fluoride applications by the dentist are important for preventing tooth decay.
Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is one of the most common of all disorders, second only to the common cold. It usually occurs in children and young adults but can affect any person. It is a common cause of tooth loss in younger people. Bacteria are normally present in the mouth. The bacteria convert all foods — especially sugar and starch — into acids. Bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine in the mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque that adheres to the teeth. It is most prominent on the back molars, just above the gum line on all teeth, and at the edges of fillings. Plaque that is not removed from the teeth mineralizes into tartar. Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating (the time when most bacterial activity occurs). If this plaque is not removed thoroughly and routinely, tooth decay will not only begin, but flourish. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the tooth and create holes in the tooth (cavities). Cavities are usually painless until they grow very large and affect nerves or cause a tooth fracture. If left untreated, a tooth abcess can develop. Untreated tooth decay also destroys the internal structures of the tooth (pulp) and ultimately causes the loss of the tooth. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) increase the risk of tooth decay.
Under Armour Mouthguard
Under Armour Mouthguard (Armourbite™) prevents teeth from clenching, pivots your jaw forward, and relieves pressure so your body can unleash its potential. Under Armour Mouthguard, such as Armourbite™, increases strength, improves endurance, reduces athletic stress and reduces impact
White Composite Fillings
White Composite Fillings or dental composite resins are types of synthetic resins which are used in dentistry as restorative material or adhesives. Synthetic resins evolved as restorative materials since they were insoluble, aesthetic, insensitive to dehydration, easy to manipulate and reasonably inexpensive. Unlike Amalgam which essentially just fills a hole and requires retention features to hold the filling, composite cavity restorations or white composite fillings, when used with dentin and enamel bonding techniques, restore the tooth back to near its original physical integrity.
X-Rays
Digital radiography are a form of x-rays , where digital x-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. Advantages include time efficiency through bypassing chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer and enhance images. Also less radiation can be used to produce an image of similar contrast to conventional radiography. Digital Radiography (DR) or (DX) is essentially filmless X-ray image capture. In place of X-ray film, a digital image capture device is used to record the X-ray image and make it available as a digital file that can be presented for interpretation and saved as part of the patient’s medical record.

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