We know what it’s like… Sometimes you hear a dental word or a phrase and you’re not quite sure what it means, or exactly what’s involved. Our practice teams are there to answer any questions you have about your treatment but we’ve also put together this handy list to explain common dental terms. If you’re still in any doubt, just give your local practice a call and they’ll be only too pleased to explain in more detail.
Examinations or check ups
If your dentist talks about dental examinations or check ups, these are the same thing. All new patients will need an initial examination so that the dentist can have a good look inside your mouth, checking the teeth and gums, tongue, soft palate, the inside of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth. The dentist will also look at your face and neck and feel under your jaw. This will give a good indication of how healthy your mouth is and whether you might need dental treatment. You will be told how often check ups are advised and the same process will be carried out each time in order to make sure your oral health doesn’t deteriorate. Attending regular check ups can help us to spot any potential problems and treat them before they become serious, saving you from pain and extra expense.
General dentistry is a term we use to refer to the treatments we carry out most often. This means things like your regular check up, which iss usually recommended every six months. It also refers to common things like X-rays, impressions, fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures and hygiene treatments.
Hygiene appointments work alongside your dental check ups to keep your teeth and gums clean and free from plaque and tartar build up. The hygienist will carry out a scale and polish, which not only cleans deeper than is possible at home, it will leave your smile looking and feeling sparkling! This is important as plaque build up can cause gum disease, which if left untreated, leads to tooth loss. The hygienist will also give you advice on the best ways of looking after your teeth and gums in between appointments.
Mouth cancer screening
Because of their in-depth knowledge regarding mouth health, your dentist is perfectly placed to spot mouth cancer. As part of every routine dental examination, your risk of mouth cancer will be checked and you will be told about anything that is found. Because early detection is vital, this is one of the reasons why it’s so important to attend your regular check ups.
If your dentist recommends that you need a filling this is because your tooth either has a cavity, decay or damage. A filling will effectively fill the hole, which is important to stop bacteria getting into the tooth and making the problem worse. Fillings take around half an hour, are usually carried out under local anaesthetic and shouldn’t hurt at all.
An extraction is when a tooth is removed from the mouth. We will only recommend tooth extraction as a last resort, if a tooth is so badly decayed, damaged, or loose that it cannot be treated in any other way in order to save it.
We develop wisdom teeth during our late teens/early 20s, or even later than this. They appear right at the back of the mouth and can cause pain as they come through and sometimes the gum around the tooth can become infected. Depending on the severity, this can cause discomfort, pain, swelling or illness. This usually means that the tooth needs to be removed. However, you may have to be treated for the pain beforehand.
Endodontics is the technical term for root canal treatment, which is recommended if the nerve of a tooth has become infected or has died. You may already be experiencing pain but often you will have no idea there is a problem. This is because in the early stages it can be symptom-free but an X-ray will highlight the issue to your dentist.
During the treatment, your dentist will clean away the infected nerve and then sterilise the inside of the tooth. They will then place a filling on top to prevent further infection getting into the tooth. Although root canal treatment will involve a fairly lengthy appointment, you shouldn’t experience any pain as local anaesthetic will be used.
Dentures are probably the most well-known solution for missing teeth. They can either be full or partial, depending on how many teeth are missing, but they are always removable. When creating your dentures, your wishes will be a top priority in order to create a natural and beautiful smile that you are proud of.
Crowns are also known as ‘caps’. If you have a tooth that is broken or decayed, a crown is often an ideal solution. The existing tooth will be used as a post to hold the new crown in place, so part of your tooth structure will need to be removed during the treatment. Crowns are usually made of metal or porcelain, they are strong and have an aesthetic appearance and should last many years.
If you have one or two teeth missing, a bridge is a permanent alternative to a removable partial denture. The teeth either side of the gap will be crowned and a false tooth (or teeth) will be fixed in the middle, thus creating the ‘bridge’ to close the space and restore your smile. Bridges are only suitable for patients with strong teeth with good bone support either side of the area to be bridged. Your dentist will help you decide if this is the best way of replacing missing teeth.
Dental implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth and are becoming increasingly popular because they act and feel just like natural teeth do. Implants are a great solution if you would prefer a permanent solution to give you your smile back.
Implants work by first placing a titanium screw into the jaw bone using a small, surgical procedure. These will be given time to heal and integrate properly with the bone in order to provide a solid foundation for the new porcelain tooth to fit on top.
Implant retained dentures
Dental implants can also be used to hold dentures in place. These help the dentures to stay firmly in place so you don’t have to worry about biting into your favourite foods or your teeth slipping when you smile or speak.
Veneers are a thin, porcelain cosmetic tooth covering that is used to disguise flaws such as chipped, broken, gappy or crooked teeth to improve the shape and appearance. They are individually made in the dental lab and are then bonded onto the front of your tooth after a small layer of the natural tooth surface is removed.
Tooth whitening is a safe and effective way of removing everyday stains from teeth to give you a bright, white smile. You will have a special set of trays custom-made for you and whitening gel to place in it. Your dentist will tell you how long and how often to wear this for.
Orthodontics is the term dentists use to describe the process of tooth straightening using braces. Traditional treatment lasts around 18-24 months and is usually for patients in their teens. However, more and more adults are undergoing orthodontic treatment in order to improve their smile. There are different type of orthodontic treatment for different cases…
NHS orthodontic treatment is free for those under the age of 18 if they have a clinical need for treatment. Your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist who will create a treatment plan and advise how long braces will be required for. NHS orthodontic treatment will involve metal braces that re fixed to the teeth and are non-removable.
Invisalign is a clear, removable orthodontic system that is designed to fit around your lifestyle. You will be provided with a series of aligners that are each worn for two-week intervals. Before your treatment starts, we will be able to show you a simulated image of how we expect your teeth to look at the end of treatment, which gives you something to look forward to!
Although some teenagers will be suitable for normal Invisalign treatment, Invisalign Teen has been created for those whose adult teeth have not yet come through. This system has other special features, including wear indicators and up to six replacement aligners in the event that any are misplaced.
The Inman Aligner is a removable orthodontic appliance that concentrates on straightening just the front teeth. Due to its more cosmetic concerns, treatment only takes between 6-18 weeks.
Short-term orthodontics is when cosmetic braces are used to focus on straightening the front teeth only. The treatment is much quicker than traditional orthodontics as it only concentrates on the front teeth and not the overall bite. Depending on the system used, the braces will either be clear, removable aligners or tooth-coloured fixed brackets and wires.
Facial aesthetic treatments are designed to rejuvenate your face and give you a refreshed look. Many dentists offer these treatments and they are perfectly placed to do so, having extensive knowledge of the facial structure and muscles. These non-surgical treatments include things like wrinkle reduction, dermal fillers, cheek augmentation, hyperhidrosis (perspiration control) and chemical peels.
Being nervous or anxious about visiting the dentist is very common and sedation can be an effective way of helping patients to relax if necessary. At Clyde Munro we are able to offer both intravenous (through a tube in the back of your hand) and inhalation sedation, depending on your preference and what we feel is best for you. You are encouraged to tell us about any worries you have so that we can use methods like sedation to help you, if required.
At some of our sites we are able to offer our patients state-of-the-art digital impressions using our Trios 3 Shape scanner. This high-tech equipment allows for improved precision and ultimately benefits the dental treatment you receive.
Paediatric dentistry is dental care tailored specifically for children. This is different to general dentistry because it takes into consideration the baby teeth and subsequent emerging adult teeth. At Clyde Munro, our dentists understand the differing needs that children have and they employ techniques to ease nerves where necessary, keeping our younger patients calm, and comfortable at all times.
Our dentists are also concerned with teaching children good oral health care habits in a fun and interesting way so that they will learn to look after their teeth and gums from an early age.
Advanced digital imaging
At Clyde Munro, our practices invest in state-of-the-art technology in order to provide patients with the best care possible. As part of this ethos, we use advanced digital imaging to give us a clearer vision of your dental health through high quality images of your teeth and gums. With the latest digital technology, doses are kept to a minimum while also maintaining excellent picture quality.
Our Cone beam CT Scanner allows us to take 2D and 3D images that are important for helping us to pinpoint the exact location of dental implants and plan other aspects of dental treatment with high accuracy.
With Digital Pan Oral Radiographs, we can see in great detail, in 2D. This highlights any tooth decay and shows us whether the supporting jaw bone has been affected by gum disease. We can also use this to detect the angle/position of troublesome wisdom teeth.
Lateral Cephalemetric Analysis is used in orthodontic treatment to allow us to understand the relationship between the upper and lower jaw when planning your braces.