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Glossary of Dental Health Terms

abscess: an infection of a tooth, soft tissue, or bone.

abutment: tooth or teeth on either side of a missing tooth that support a fixed or removable bridge.

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acrylic resin: the plastic widely used in dentistry.

ADA Seal of Acceptance: a designation awarded to products that have met American Dental Association's criteria for safety and effectiveness and whose packaging and advertising claims are scientifically supported.

adjustment: a modification made upon a dental prosthesis after it has been completed and inserted into the mouth.

air abrasion/micro abrasion: a drill-free technique that blasts the tooth surface with air and an abrasive. This is a relatively new technology that may avoid the need for an anesthetic and can be used to remove tooth decay, old composite restorations and superficial stains and discolorations, and prepare a tooth surface for bonding or sealants.

alveolar bone: the bone surrounding the root of the tooth, anchoring it in place; loss of this bone is typically associated with severe periodontal (gum) disease.

amalgam: a common filling material used to repair cavities. The material, also known as "silver fillings," contains mercury in combination with silver, tin, copper, and sometimes zinc.

anaerobic bacteria: bacteria that do not need oxygen to grow; they are generally associated with periodontal disease (see below).

analgesia: a state of pain relief; an agent for lessening pain.

anesthesia: a type of medication that results in partial or complete elimination of pain sensation; numbing a tooth is an example of local anesthesia; general anesthesia produces partial or complete unconsciousness.

antibiotic: a drug that stops or slows the growth of bacteria.

antiseptic: a chemical agent that can be applied to living tissues to destroy germs.

apex: the tip of the root of a tooth.

appliance: any removable dental restoration or orthodontic device.

arch: a description of the alignment of the upper or lower teeth.

baby bottle tooth decay: decay in infants and children, most often affecting the upper front teeth, caused by sweetened liquids given and left clinging to the teeth for long periods (for example, in feeding bottles or pacifiers). Also called early childhood carries.

bicuspid: the fourth and fifth teeth from the center of the mouth to the back of the mouth. These are the back teeth that are used for chewing; they only have two points (cusps). Adults have eight bicuspids (also called premolars), two in front of each group of molars.

biofeedback: a relaxation technique that involves learning how to better cope with pain and stress by altering behavior, thoughts, and feelings.

biopsy: removal of a small piece of tissue for diagnostic examination.

bite: relationship of the upper and lower teeth upon closure (occlusion).

bite-wing: a single X-ray that shows upper and lower teeth teeth (from crown to about the level of the supporting bone) in a select area on the same film.

WebMD Medical Reference

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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