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Dentists tend to use words unfamiliar to the rest of us who didn’t attend dental school along with them, and it can be overwhelming when you have no idea what they are talking about. Here are some dental terms you should know if you don’t want to feel like a tiny fish in a big pond next time you go to the dentist’s office.


A set of artificial teeth. They can replace all of one’s teeth (complete dentures) or a section of teeth (partial dentures).


An artificial tooth root that dentists put in the jaw bone. The dentist can put an artificial tooth (or crown) on the implant, or you can use implants to hold bridges or dentures in place.

Oral Hygiene:

Activities you do to keep your mouth clean. These include brushing your teeth, cheeks, tongue, and dentures. They can also include using mouthwash or dental floss or having a dentist or hygienist clean your teeth.


A thin plastic coating that can be put on the tops of molars and premolars. Sealants get hard and keep food from getting packed in the surfaces of the teeth. They help prevent cavities.

Tooth Decay:

A hole in the tooth caused by acid in plaque. The more common name is a cavity.


Thin, custom-made shells crafted of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth.


The decreased salivary secretion that produces a dry and sometimes burning sensation. Also called a dry mouth.

*All definitions courtesy the American Dental Association.

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