Windsor Family Dentistry Dental Glossary

The glossary contains many of the commonly used dental terms. Perhaps youʼve heard
us mention something that you donʼt quite understand or want to know more about.
Scroll down the page to check the listings or choose a letter in the list above.

Abscess
An infection caused by sever decay, trauma, or gum disease. You may have pain and
swelling.

Amalgam
Typical silver colored fillings made of a mix of silver, tin, mercury, and other trace
elements like copper. Advantages–placement easier than other materials, cost.
Disadvantages–color, breaks down in 10-20 years

Bleaching (Teeth Whitening)
Process of brightening or whitening stained, discolored, or dull teeth with an in-office
power bleaching method, or dentist supervised, at-home whitening systems.

Bonding
Adhering tooth-colored resin materials to tooth surface to create a bond. Also, it is the
process of covering a tooth surface by enamel-like resin to correct stained or damaged
teeth by adhering a layer of plastic on the tooth.

Bridge
One or more artificial teeth attached, usually on both sides, by crowns to adjacent teeth.
It is used to maintain space and function for missing teeth. Bridges may be made of
gold, porcelain on gold, or all-ceramic materials.

Bruxism
Teeth grinding often caused by stress. Most often done unconsciously at night.
Nightguards can correct this.

Cerec
This is a system that enables us to fabricate ceramic restorations in a single
appointment, thus eliminating the wait time traditionally associated with a conventional
porcelain restoration. A computer is used along with an optical scanner to take images
of your tooth and design an ideal restoration using architecture CAD/CAM technology
so there is no need to wear a temporary restoration or wait for an off-site lab to creat a
restoration. This exciting technology can be used in many applications and we will
gladly make recommendations to you whether a Cerec restoration would be appropriate
for you.

Composite
Tooth colored filling materials made of resin reinforced with silica or porcelain particles.
Main advantages–tooth colored, are bonded to strengthen rather than weaken tooth.
Disadvantages–They are very technique sensitive and should not be placed by those
unfamiliar with their use.

Cosmetic Dentistry
The field of dentistry dedicated to the art and science of enhancing a personʼs smile,
overall appearance, and health.

Cosmetic Recontouring
Reshaping the natural teeth to make them straighter and/or more youthful in
appearance.

Crown
A crown, also known as a cap, is a cover for a decayed or damaged tooth made of
porcelain and/or metal.

Diastema
A space between two teeth.

Extraction
The removal of teeth–may be simple or surgical. Oral surgery is the field of dentistry
relating to extractions, among other things.

Fistula
A bump or boil on the gum tissue, which is a tract from which an abscessed tooth can
drain.

Fluoride
Fluoride is the ion form of the element fluorine and exists abundantly in tissue like tooth
enamel. Once teeth are developed, fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more
resistant to decay.

Gingiva
Gum tissue.

Gingivitis
Inflammation of the gum tissue caused by plaque and/or tartar build-up. Precursor to
periodontitis if not treated.

Impacted Tooth
This is a tooth that is submerged under the gum tissue, usually associated with a
wisdom tooth. It may be malpositioned and may never erupt, but may still require
removal.

Implant
A titanium, screw-like appliance positioned in the bone to replace a lost tooth or teeth.
A crown, bridge, or bar and denture can be fixed to the implant(s).

Inlay
A gold, porcelain, or composite custom-made tooth restoration cemented or bonded into
the tooth. Inlays restore the area of the tooth between cusps and are fabricated outside
the mouth.

Night Guard
A plastic mouthpiece worn to prevent damage from grinding teeth at night.

Onlay
A gold, porcelain, or composite custom-made tooth restoration cemented or bonded to
the tooth. Onlays are like inlays, but include one, two, three, or more cusps. Like inlays
and crowns, onlays are fabricated outside the mouth.

Periodontitis (Gum Disease)
Advanced gum disease; inflammation of gum tissue which causes bone loss resulting in
tooth loss if left untreated.

Porcelain laminate veneer
A thin porcelain shell bonded to the tooth to correct imperfections in shape and/or color.

Prophy
A simple cleaning of teeth above the gum line with rubber wheel and dental toothpaste.

Root Canal Therapy
Cleaning out the inside nerve of the tooth to preserve the tooth.

Root Planing
The removal of hard deposits (called tartar or calculus) with metal scalers, on the root
surface and smoothing the root surface to allow for reattachment of the gums to the
tooth and ultimately pocket reduction.

Rubber Dam
A thin rubber sheet applied to teeth for safety and to control moisture during dental
procedures.

Sealants
A plastic coating applied to grooves of teeth to prevent decay.