Michele Knabe, DDS | Glossary in Chicago

Michele Knabe, DDS

25 E Washington, Suite 1721
Chicago, IL 60602

(312) 701-0100

Glossary
 

Abscess:

A swelling caused by an infection resulting in pus filled hole.

 

Abutment:

Tooth, root or implant used to support an artificial tooth restoration.

 

Anterior:

Term referring to the front area of the mouth.

 

Amalgam fillings (silver-mercury):
Are a mixture of different metals such as 65% silver, 25% tin bound with mercury, 6% copper and 2% zinc. Trituration is the process of mixing these alloys together with mercury. Mercury makes up between 45-50% of the mixture and acts as glue that binds these metals into a hard substance that can last for decades.


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


Bonding (composite resin bonding):
Process by which enamel-like resin is bonded to a tooth's surface, sculpted to an ideal shape, hardened and polished.

 

Bridge:
A bridge is a custom-made device anchored to neighboring teeth that replaces one or more missing teeth. When a lost tooth is replaced with bridgework, the teeth on either side of the missing one must be prepared as crowns. These will serve as abutments to hold the replacement tooth in place.

 

Bruxism: the habit of tooth grinding usually during sleep, often resulting in loose or worn teeth, gum recession, destruction of the supportive bone and TMJ disorders.

 

Calculus:  a sticky substance, also called Tartar, that has hardened.

 

Composite resin:
Tooth-colored filling material made of resin and reinforced with silica or porcelain particles.

 

Cosmetic contouring:
Reshaping the natural teeth to make them straighter or more youthful in appearance.

 

Cosmetic dentistry:
Field of dentistry dedicated to the art and science of enhancing a person's smile, tooth-color, appearance and oral health.

 

Crown:
A crown, sometimes called a cap, is a tooth-like covering placed over a carefully prepared existing tooth. Crowns are made of porcelain, a stain resistant material that closely replicates the appearance and function of natural teeth. Used to strengthen, restore or improve the appearance of your natural tooth, a crown is placed over the individual tooth much like a thimble over your finger. Crowns are also used to support teeth when there is no sufficient tooth structure left to place a filling.

 

Dentin:
A layer of tooth structure under the enamel. Exposed dentin is the main cause of tooth sensitivity.

 

Diastema:
Space between two teeth, usually the front two teeth.

 

Enamel:
Hard, white outer layer of the tooth that covers and protects the dentin.

 

Endontics:
See Root Canal treatment.

 

Fissure sealants:
A thin, plastic, protective film painted on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. Children receive the greatest benefit from sealants as the chewing surfaces of a child's teeth are most susceptible to cavities and are therefore benefited by fluoride.

 

Fluoride treatment:
Fluoride treatments help to strengthen the teeth externally, while the supplements are helpful for the internal development of the teeth. Over-the-counter (non-prescription) fluoride rinses are generally not necessary as the teeth get topical (external) benefit from fluoride containing toothpastes. Dentists may, however, recommend these rinses for children or adults who are especially prone to developing cavities.

 

Gingiva:
Gums.

 

Gum (peridontal) disease:
Also known as gingivitis or periodontitis. You may not realize that red or black gums, tooth sensitivity and bad breath are warning signs of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection that, left untreated, may lead to tooth loss.

 

Gum reshaping:
Excessive or uneven gums can be corrected with a simple cosmetic surgical procedure known as gingivoplasty. This results in a more even, pleasing smile.

 

High lip line:
Where the widest smile reveals the gum tissues above the teeth.

 

Hygienist:
As licensed oral health professionals, dental hygienists focus on preventing and treating oral disease both to protect teeth and gums and also to protect patient's total health. See oral hygiene.

 

Incisors:
Central or lateral front teeth with cutting edges (4 upper and 4 lower).

 

Inlay:
Porcelain, resin or gold fitting (made to fit a prepared cavity) which is bonded in place to help restore a decaying or broken tooth.

 

Implant:
A dental implant is quite simply a synthetic tooth root. This provides the support a crown needs to withstand the pressure of chewing. Implants help to reverse the negative impact of missing teeth in a variety of ways. Implants can restore and maintain the natural bite, prevent unnatural stress on the other teeth, keep opposing teeth in proper place, prevent tilting and shifting of adjacent teeth and enhance your smile, speech and chewing function.

 

'Instant' orthodontics:
The art of using ceramic veneers to 'instantly' (usually within one month) correct crooked teeth. See orthodontics.

 

Invisalign (almost invisible braces)
An invisible way to straighten teeth using a series of custom made, nearly undetectable aligners. You then wear each set of aligners for about two weeks, moving your teeth gradually - week by week, millimeter by millimeter until you achieve the intended result: straighter teeth.

 

Laminates or veneers:
Thin, custom-made moldings that cover the fronts of unattractive teeth. They are cut from lifelike, high-tech materials to portray a bright, natural smile. If you are looking to improve your smile, custom-fitted veneers can provide the answer.

 

Laminating:
Applying a thin porcelain or composite resin veneer to a tooth. -

 

Low lip line:
Where the widest smile barely reveals the bottom edges of the upper front teeth.

 

Malocclusion:
A bad bite caused by incorrect positioning of the upper or lower teeth.

 

Midline:
An imaginary vertical line that divides the face into equal parts.

 

Occlusion:
See TMJ/TMD

 

Onlay:
Porcelain, resin or gold filling that protects a tooth by covering the chewing surface.

 

Oral hygiene:
Proper oral hygiene, including flossing at least once a day and brushing twice daily, is just as important as ever to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy, along with regular (four monthly) dental hygiene appointments.

 

Orthodontics:
Addressing a variety of cosmetic and functional problems, this is a specialized branch of dentistry concerned with straightening teeth. Through the use of specially designed and fitted appliances, constant and gentle pressure put on the teeth causes them to move into the desired position.

 

Partial denture:
Removable dental appliance that replaces some of the natural teeth.

 

Periodontal treatment:
Treatment for gum disease. Often performed by a gum and implant specialist called a Periodontist.

 

Porcelain:
Ceramic, tooth-colored material that fuses at high temperatures to form a hard, enamel-like substance.

 

Posterior- bonded composite resin:
Tooth-colored filling for back teeth.

 

Resin-bonded bridge:
Thin metal or glass fiber-reinforced bridge requiring slight or no reduction of anchor. It is also called a Maryland bridge and is usually used as a provisional restoration.

 

Root canal treatment (endodontics):
Inside your tooth, running like a thread through the root, is the pulp. If the pulp is diseased or injured, the pulp tissue dies. If you do not remove it, your tooth gets infected and this can cause intense pain and can lead to a dental abscess. After the dentist removes the pulp, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Then a crown is placed over your tooth to help make it stronger.

 

TMJ/TMD:
If a patient's teeth don't fit and slide together in harmony, one or more of the head and neck nerve groups may begin to suffer from fatigue. This may be felt as headaches, eye pain or shoulder pain. Stress levels are known to make matters worse.

 

Veneers (porcelain or composite):
Are thin, custom-made moldings that cover the front of unattractive teeth. They are crafted from lifelike, high-tech materials to portray a bright, natural smile. If you are looking to improve your smile, custom-fitted veneers could provide the answer.

 

Walking bleach:
Method used to lighten a tooth that has darkened after root canal treatment. The whitening solution is placed inside the tooth and is active 24 hours a day.

 

Whitening:
People with stained or dull teeth will benefit from whitening. It is a safe and effective means to whiten stained, discolored or dull teeth (or even a single tooth). In-office and supervised at-home whitening systems are available. At-home systems should be individually fitted and monitored by your cosmetic dentist.

 

Wisdom tooth removal:
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt. This occurs usually between the ages of 17 and 25. If these impacted teeth are in an abnormal position (a dentist can show you through an x-ray), their potential for harm should be assessed. When a wisdom tooth is partially erupted, food and bacteria can collect under the gum causing a local infection. This may result in bad breath, pain or swelling. Once the initial episode occurs, each subsequent attack becomes more frequent and more severe. Impacted wisdom teeth are almost certain to cause problems if left in place. This is particularly true of lower wisdom teeth.

 
 
 
Chicago Dentist | Glossary. Michele Knabe is a Chicago Dentist.