Dental Jargon Buster

The world of orthodontics and dentistry can be mind-boggling and is made up of some pretty complex and confusing terminology. We’ve created a dental jargon buster to help you better understand our field….


Abscess – A localised within body tissue that has become swollen and full of pus.


Abutment – An implant or tooth fixture that is used as a support for a prosthetic part such as an implant.


Acid etching – The use of acidic chemicals to prepare a patient’s tooth enamel for bonding.


Alveolar – Pertaining to the bone a tooth is attached to.


Appliance – A device used to hold teeth in position after having undergone orthodontic treatment such as a removable denture, bridge or false teeth.


Apex – The tip off a tooth’s root.


Bonding – A procedure where tooth-coloured resin material is applied to the tooth in order to enhance their appearance.


Bridges – Resembling natural teeth, dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth.  Dental bridges can be placed over implants.


Canal – a narrow passage of channel (often used in the context or a ‘root canal’ – see below).


Cavity – Missing structure of a tooth. This could be due to abrasion, decay or erosion.


Cement base – This refers to the material used under a filling to replace lost tooth parts of structure.


Cosmetic dentistry – Services provided by dentists in order to enhance aesthetic appearance.


Crown – Crowns are synthetic replacements, restoring missing tooth structure. They are made of titanium, polymer or ceramic materials – sometimes a composite of these.


Decay – Decomposition of a patient’s tooth structure as a result of poor dental hygiene, damaged teeth amongst less common reasons.


Denture – Artificial substitute for one or more missing teeth and neighbouring tissues.


Implant (dental) – A surgical component that fuses with the bone in order to support a crown, denture or bridge.


Mouth guard (custom) – Bespoke sports appliances created by a dental technician taking impressions of your teeth.


Occlusion – Contact between teeth. The opposite of this is a malocclusion which is the misalignment of jaws and teeth.


Orthodontics – The field of dentistry pertaining to complications with the jaw and misaligned teeth.


Plaque – Sticky substance that gathers on teeth. Plaque is largely made up of bacteria.


Pulp cavity – The area within a tooth containing pulp.


Preventative dentistry – The area of dentistry specialising in the promotion of good oral health.


Tartar – Hard deposit that forms over your teeth’s enamel. It produces a rough foundation that causes plaque to settle.


Veneer – Layer of material designed to go over your tooth in order to improve its appearance. This is often likened to a fake nail being placed over a real nail.