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Dental Dictionary
Abfraction PDF Print E-mail
This is a wearing of the tooth along the gum-line caused by repeated clenching and grinding (bruxism), causing the enamel to "pop" off starting at the base of the tooth and it can expose the gum-line of the tooth to excessive wear. Once the enamel is gone, then dentin is exposed and the teeth are more susceptible to decay, sensitivity and more wearing down.
Abrasion PDF Print E-mail
A wearing down of the tooth structure, commonly caused by using a hard toothbrush and improper brushing technique along the gum-line or it could also be from grinding/bruxing or chewing hard objects or food.
Abscess PDF Print E-mail
An infection of either the tooth, gums or bone. It commonly appears either clinically as a "gum boil" on the tissue, or it shows up on the x-ray, most often at the tip of the root or between the roots.
Abutement PDF Print E-mail
These are the teeth on either side of a bridge. They support the bridge. A bridge is placed when a tooth is missing.
Air Abrasion PDF Print E-mail
A relatively new technique to the dental field in which a small high pressure spray of 27 micron aluminum oxide is used to remove decay or drill out pieces of old fillings and even tooth structure. It cuts down the need for a drill in many cases and often can eliminate the need for anesthetic since there is less trauma to the tooth while it is being used. Advantages include: less vibration, less noise, less heat build-up. It acts like a mini sand-blaster and works excellently in preparing teeth for sealants or conservative dental care.
Amalgams PDF Print E-mail
Silver fillings have been used for dental filling material for about 100 years now. They are the black metal type of fillings (containing about 50% mercury! along with tin, silver and other metals such as zinc or copper mixed together) and generally were used in dentistry for years only because they are an easily placed filling material. Now that newer, more aesthetic and conservative composite (white) fillings are coming out with stronger materials and quartz fillers for better wear, most people are getting those placed instead. Since the material is mostly mercury, it expands quickly with temperature changes (just like the mercury in a thermometer does). As a result, most teeth filled with amalgam end up getting fractures in them due to the thermal stresses of expansion on the teeth. Amalgams have a higher rate of causing tooth stresses and fractures. However, since amalgams are the least expensive type of filling, most insurance companies only pay for amalgam fillings. Consult your physician if Amalgams or better known nowadays as Mercury Fillings are the right choice for you!
Anesthesia PDF Print E-mail
This is the method of "numbing" an area of the mouth, or putting an area "to sleep" or in the case of general anesthesia, putting the patient to sleep, for a brief time while the procedure is being done, to block the transmission of pain through the nerves.
Anterior Teeth PDF Print E-mail
These are the front eight teeth on the upper or lower jaw. They include the incisors and the cuspids (canines).
Attrition PDF Print E-mail
This is the loss of tooth structure over time, (or the loss of teeth over time.) Generally caused by wear, long term usage, heavy usage of the teeth.
Base PDF Print E-mail
This is the material (typically a type of cement) that is placed under a filling, when a filling is getting close to the nerve to act as an insulator and sedative on the pulp of the tooth (where the nerve is.)
Bicuspids PDF Print E-mail
These are the teeth just behind the pointed canines. They are the fourth and fifth tooth on either side from the mid-line. They typically have two cusps. They are used for chewing.
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