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Glossary of Dental Health Terms

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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.

bleaching: chemical or laser treatment of natural teeth that uses peroxide to produce the whitening effect.

bonding: the covering of a tooth surface with a tooth-colored composite to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth, for instance, due to stain or damage.

bone resorption: decrease in the amount of bone supporting the roots of teeth; a common result of periodontal (gum) disease.

braces: devices (bands, wires, ceramic appliances) put in place by orthodontists to gradually reposition teeth to a more favorable alignment.

bridge: stationary dental prosthesis (appliance) fixed to teeth adjacent to a space; replaces one or more missing teeth, cemented or bonded to supporting teeth or implants adjacent to the space. Also called a fixed partial denture.

bruxism: grinding or gnashing of the teeth, most commonly during sleep.

calcium: an element needed for the development of healthy teeth, bones, and nerves.

calculus: hard, calcium-like deposits that form on teeth due to inadequate plaque control, often stained yellow or brown. Also called "tartar."

canker sore: sores or small shallow ulcers that appear in the mouth and often make eating and talking uncomfortable; they typically appear in people between the ages of 10 and 20 and last about a week in duration before disappearing.

cap: common term for a dental crown.

caries: tooth decay or "cavities." A dental infection caused by toxins produced by bacteria.

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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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