Plaque: A soft, sticky film of bacteria that accumulates on teeth. Unless teeth are regularly cleaned with brushing and flossing, plaque releases acids that attack tooth enamel and can eventually result in cavities.
Pulp: The connective tissue inside the center of the tooth, which contains blood vessels and nerves.
Retainer: A custom device made of plastic and meta, and used to stabilize the position of teeth, often after braces are removed.
Root canal: Treatment of disease or injury of the pulp, which provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth and runs down through the root. A root canal involves removal of the diseased or injured pulp to prevent infection and tooth loss. Then the dentist cleans and seals off the chamber within the root of the tooth, and places a crown over the tooth to strengthen it.
Scaling: A procedure used to remove plaque, calculus, or stains from the teeth.
Sealant: A thin plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back or molar teeth to protect them from decay.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder): A condition that may cause jaw, facial, head, or neck pain. It can also cause a clicking or popping sound when opening the mouth. TMD may result from stress and teeth grinding, injury, arthritis, or other diseases.
Veneer: A thin tooth covering placed on the front sides of teeth to improve gaps or cover stained, badly shaped, or crooked teeth. A veneer may be made of porcelain, ceramic, composite, or acrylic resin.
Wisdom teeth: The four rearmost molars on each side of the upper and lower jaw, which are the last to erupt, usually around age 20. They sometimes need to be removed when they cause pain, infection, damage to nearby teeth, or other problems.