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Glossary of Dental Health Terms

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implant: a metal rod (usually made of titanium) that is surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone where a tooth is missing; it serves as the tooth root and anchor for the crown, bridge, or denture that is placed over it.

impression: mold made of the teeth and soft tissues.

incision and drainage: surgical incision of an abscess to drain pus.

incisors: four upper and four lower front teeth, excluding the cuspids (canine teeth). These teeth are used primarily for biting and cutting.

inlay: similar to a filling but the entire work lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of the tooth.

jawbone: The hard bone that supports the face and includes alveolar bone, which anchors the teeth.

leukoplakia: a white or gray patch that develops on the tongue or the inside of the cheek. It is the mouth's reaction to chronic irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth.

malocclusion: "bad bite" or misalignment of the teeth or jaws.

mandible: the lower jaw.

maxilla: the upper jaw.

mercury: a metal component of amalgam fillings.

molars: three back teeth in each dental quadrant used for grinding food.

mouth guard: a soft-fitted device that is inserted into the mouth and worn over the teeth to protect them against impact or injury.

muscle relaxant: a type of medication often prescribed to reduce stress.

nerve: tissue that conveys sensation, temperature, and position information to the brain.

nerve (root) canal: dental pulp; the internal chamber of a tooth where the nerves and blood vessels pass.

night guard: a removable acrylic appliance that fits over the upper and lower teeth used to prevent wear and temporomandibular damage caused by grinding or gnashing of the teeth during sleep.

nitrous oxide: a gas (also called laughing gas) used to reduce patient anxiety.

NSAID: a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, often used as a dental analgesic.

occlusal X-rays: an X-ray showing full tooth development and placement. Each X-ray reveals the entire arch of teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

occlusion: the relationship of the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed.

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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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