Glossary of Dental Health Terms
fluoride: a mineral that helps strengthen teeth enamel making teeth less susceptible to decay. Fluoride is ingested through food or water, is available in most toothpastes, or can be applied as a gel or liquid to the surface of teeth by a dentist.
fluorosis: discoloration of the enamel due to too much fluoride ingestion (greater than one part per million) into the bloodstream, also called enamel mottling.
general dentist: the primary care dental provider. This dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages overall oral health care needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and preventive education.
gingiva: the soft tissue that surrounds the base of the teeth; the pink tissue around the teeth.
gingivectomy: surgical removal of gum tissue.
gingivitis: inflamed, swollen, and reddish gum tissue that may bleed easily when touched or brushed. It is the first step in a series of events that begins with plaque build up in the mouth and may end -- if not properly treated -- with periodontitis and tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth.
gingivoplasty: a procedure performed by periodontists to reshape the gum tissue.
gold fillings: an alternative to silver amalgam fillings.
gum recession: exposure of dental roots due to shrinkage of the gums as a result of abrasion, periodontal disease, or surgery.
gutta percha: material used in the filling of root canals.
halitosis: bad breath of oral or gastrointestinal origin.
handpiece: the instrument used to hold and revolve burs in dental operations.
hard palate: the bony front portion of the roof of the mouth.
hygienist: a licensed, auxiliary dental professional who is both an oral health educator and clinician who uses preventive, therapeutic, and educational methods to control oral disease.
hypersensitivity: a sharp, sudden painful reaction in teeth when exposed to hot, cold, sweet, sour, salty, chemical, or mechanical stimuli.
immediate denture: a complete or partial denture that is made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the natural teeth are removed.
impacted tooth: a tooth that is partially or completely blocked from erupting through the surface of the gum. An impacted tooth may push other teeth together or damage the bony structures supporting the adjacent tooth. Often times, impacted teeth must be surgically removed.