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Common terms that your dentist uses

How many times have you been confused by terms your dentist uses? These words could be some common terms referring to parts of your teeth or a common treatment you might have gone through many times. Rather than being puzzled, know these words and understand your dentist better on your next visit. Below is a list of words in alphabetical order.


Amalgam is a dental material used to fill dental cavities. Amalgam is commonly referred to as silver fillings.


Bleaching is a cosmetic treatment using a strong oxidizing or bleaching agent to lessen or eliminate stains. Bleaching makes the tooth shade lighter (whiter).


A bridge is a fixed artificial tooth that replaces a lost tooth. A bridge is made up of one or more false teeth supported by anchor teeth, the teeth adjacent to the lost tooth.


Calculus is the material formed on the surface of teeth by collection and hardening of dental plaque. Once formed it can only be removed by a dentist/hygienist.


Carries is the clinical term for cavities or tooth decay.

Composite Filling

Composite filling is a dental material used for filling cavities, fractures and aesthetic treatments. This differs with amalgam fillings in colour. These are normally found in different shades matching the tooth colour.


This can mean two things. If your dentist is referring to your tooth, the crown is the part of the tooth that we can see, the whole of the white covering. If your dentist is referring to a treatment, a crown is an artificial covering which covers a weak tooth. This is made up of metal or porcelain.


Curettage is the surgical scraping of soft tissue to remove bacteria from within the root surface of teeth. This is done by inserting an instrument called curetter between gums and teeth.


Denture are removable artificial teeth that replace lost teeth. It can be just a single tooth or the whole set. This is the common removable set of teeth.


Diastema is the spacing between the front two teeth in lower or upper jaws.


Extraction is the process or act of removing a tooth. A small surgical process is involved, and local anaesthesia is given while tooth is pulled out from the socket.


Filling is the lay term used for restoring the tooth structure by using materials such as metal, alloy or composite. It is commonly known as cement filling.


Fluoride is a chemical compound that strengthens teeth and reduces tooth decay and sensitivity. This is normally available in toothpastes. New rules in Nepal require fluoride in salt, but the rules have not yet been implemented.


Gingiva is the clinical term for the gums.


Gingivitis is a kind of gum disease with a clinical signs of redness, swelling and bleeding of gums.

Gingival recession

When the gingival margin begins to move towards the root surface and expose the root, the condition is known as gingival recession. Normally the tooth appears longer than usual in this case.


Hypersensitivity is sharp, sudden painful reaction when the tooth is exposed to hot, cold, chemical, mechanical or osmotic (sweet or salt) stimuli.

Impacted tooth

An impacted tooth is an erupted or partially erupted tooth whose eruption is stopped by adjacent tooth, bone, or soft tissue.


An implant is a permanent treatment to fix a missing tooth by screwing a metal rod directly into the jaw where the tooth is missing. An artificial tooth is fitted over the rod.


An impression is a negative imprint of the mouth. This is taken with a help of a soft shaping material that hardens after some time. This is later used as mould to make any kind of artificial tooth or appliance.

Local Anaesthesia

A local anaesthetic is an injection or gel that relieves the sensation of pain in a specific area. It is given during extraction and other painful treatments.


Malocclusion refers to abnormal position of the upper teeth relative to the lower teeth. Correction of malocclusion involves orthodontic treatment.

Periodontal Disease

Bone, gums and ligaments support the teeth. These structures are called periodontal tissue. Disease of the supporting structure of the tooth is known as periodontal disease. Teeth with periodontal disease become weak and mobile after certain period, if left untreated.


Plaque is a soft, sticky, whitish accumulation in tooth surface composed of bacteria and bacterial derivatives. Plaque leads to calculus formation of not cleaned regularly.

Root Canal therapy

Root canal therapy is treatment in which diseased tissue from the root canals is removed, and the resulting cavity is filled with an inert material.


Scaling is the removal of plaque, calculus and stain from teeth and root surface.

Temporary Crown

A protective covering placed after a tooth is prepared for a permanent crown. It can give the patient a good idea of what the final crown will look like.


Trismus is a condition that prevents a person from opening the mouth properly.

Wisdom Tooth

The last tooth on each end of the jaws is the wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth may become impacted (obstructed from erupting) due to chewing habits and, therefore, have to be extracted.

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