Sometimes going to a dental check up can be intimidating. As you sit in the chair, you hear the dentist and staff talking about dental-this and dental-that but you aren’t quite sure what they are saying. Dental terminology is a complex language and can be very confusing. The more you understand, the more comfortable you’ll feel during your visits. At Bozart Family Dentistry, we strive to make sure you understand what is happening each step of the way and answer every question you have but here’s a guide to some common dental terms heard in the office.
You hear this and think “are are they talking about math?”. No formulas or equations involved when this term has to do with dentistry. Its an expression about the parts of your mouth. Your teeth are split up into 4 sections called quadrants. The top part of your mouth is call the first and second quadrants while the bottom row of teeth are referred to as the third and fourth.
Numbering Your Teeth
You’ve probably heard the dentist say “tooth number 16 needs…”. Each tooth in your mouth is assigned a number based on the universal numbering system. By using a number to address a tooth, dentist can easily and quickly notate which teeth have issues and need correction. The numbers range from 1-48 but you might not have all of these teeth. For example, number 48 is a wisdom tooth and you may have had it removed.
A cavity develops when a tooth decays or breaks down. They can also be called dental “caries”. It is a hole in your tooth due to plaque that can create a toothache. If you have a cavity, it’s important to get it repaired because it can grow bigger over time.
A dental crown is a tooth shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth to cover it. It helps restore the shape, size, and strength of the tooth.
This is put in place when you have a gap left from a missing tooth. It is cemented to remaining teeth and fills the remaining space where the gap was.
This is the lower two-thirds of a tooth. You can’t see it because it is below your gum. The roots of a tooth are normally buried in bone to serve as an anchor.
Plaque vs Calculus
Plaque is a a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth. It contains millions of bacteria that can cause tooth decay if not removed.
More math? Nope, calculus is simply hardened plaque. If plaque is not removed regularly, it hardens to create calculus which is also known as “tarter”. Calculus can be dangerous and lead to gum disease if not removed.
Now that you are an expert on dental terminology, you can surprise your dentist and practice your dental knowledge during your next visit!