Test Your Dental Vocabulary

testWhen dentists talk to patients, they often use specialized vocabulary referring to various dental conditions. Do you understand what they mean when they use these words — or are you wondering what they are talking about?

Here’s your chance to test your knowledge of ten words that have a particular meaning in the context of dentistry. If you already know them, congratulations! If you don’t, here’s your chance to learn what these words mean in the dental world.

In dentistry, enamel is the hard outer coating of your teeth. It is the hardest substance produced by living animals. It is a non-living, mineralized, and composed of a crystalline form of calcium and phosphate.

The dentin is the layer of a tooth that is just beneath the enamel. It is living tissue similar to bone tissue.

When dentists speak of pulp, we mean the tissues in the central chamber of a tooth (the root canal) that nourish the dentin layer and contain the nerves of the tooth.

Many people exert excess pressure on their teeth by clenching or grinding them. This is called bruxism, a habit that can be very damaging to teeth.

By this we mean how the upper and lower teeth are aligned, and how they fit together. This can also be referred to as your bite.

Dental caries
This term refers to tooth decay. Dental caries and periodontal disease (see below) are two of the most common diseases known to man. Today, these diseases are not only treatable, but they are also largely preventable.

Periodontal disease
A term for gum disease, this term comes from “peri,” meaning around and “odont,” meaning tooth. It is used to describe a process of inflammation and infection leading to the progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to the teeth. This can lead to loss of teeth and of the bone itself.

When you consume acidic foods or drinks, the acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth, causing chemical erosion. This is not the same as tooth decay, which is caused by acids released by bacterial film that forms on your teeth (see below).

Dental implant
A dental implant is a permanent replacement for a missing tooth. It replaces the root portion of the tooth and is most often composed of a titanium alloy. The titanium root fuses with the jaw bone, making the implant very stable. A crown is attached to the implant and can be crafted to match your natural teeth.

Dental plaque is the whitish film of bacteria (a biofilm) that collects on your teeth. Your goal in daily brushing and flossing is to remove plaque.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have about your teeth and gums. You can also learn more by reading Dear Doctor magazine article “How and Why Teeth Wear.”

Why Your Retainer is Important

General-SmileIt can feel like a very momentous occasion when you finally get your braces taken off. When you have been wearing them for multiple years it can feel so freeing to finally say goodbye to them and to say hello to a straighter smile; however, there are still some things you need to do to help maintain those beautiful new results. This is when your Romeo orthodontist will recommend wearing your retainer.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is a removable oral appliance that is made from either metal wires or a translucent plastic that helps your teeth maintain their new position after orthodontic treatment.

Why do I need to wear my retainer?

After you get your braces taken off your Romeo orthodontist will recommend wearing your retainer each day. This is to help maintain the new shape of your smile and to keep teeth from shifting back after wearing braces.

How long will I need to wear my retainer? How often should I wear it?

This will vary depending on the patient; however, because we need to give the bone and tissue time to adjust to the shift in your teeth, we need to use a retainer to help maintain your new bite. If you don’t wear your retainer your teeth will slowly return to their original position. If you used braces to close gaps between your teeth expect to wear your retainer regularly for a bit longer.

However, on average we tell our patients that you will wear your retainer for as long as you wore your braces. Some patients may need to wear their retainer all the time for about six months and then switch to only wearing them at night, and some will only need to wear their retainers full-time for a couple weeks before switching to only nightly usage. If patients want to truly keep their new smiles, however, they will most likely need to wear their retainers for the rest of their lives.

How do I care for my retainer?

You should always take out your retainer before eating and brushing and flossing. You can clean your retainer by using a soft-bristled toothbrush and water and gently scrubbing it. Then be sure to brush your teeth after cleaning your retainer. Also, when you aren’t wearing your retainer it should stay in its box to prevent damage.

If you have any questions about your retainer or braces, or you just need to schedule a routine appointment with your Romeo orthodontist, then call our office today to schedule an appointment. We are here to give you the smile you deserve!