A Glossary Of Essential Dental Terms

By: Wychwood Dental |


Every industry has its own language and terms. These words and phrases can be confusing to anyone who is not part of the daily operations of a specific sector, and the dentistry business is no exception.

To help you understand the terms, acronyms, and phrases regularly used when visiting a dentist, Wychwood Dental has created this handy reference guide. Here you’ll find valuable information allowing you to comprehend and communicate your dental needs effectively.

Scaling and root planing 
They are professional terms for when a hygienist is using an ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments to remove plaque and calculus from your teeth and gums. 

Bonding is the same thing as composite, filling, white filling. The term Bonding is often used when fillings are placed on front teeth, with no preparation, to close spaces, or improve esthetics. But there is no difference between bonding and fillings. 

Crown or cap
Your tooth has a natural crown: the part of the tooth above the gums. But when your dental professional tells you that you need a crown, they mean you need a restoration shaped like your tooth, made out of porcelain or metal (or a combination) to replace your tooth's natural crown.  This is usually the case for a badly broken down tooth that is missing a lot of its structure or has had a root canal treatment.

Implants are a medical-grade titanium screw that is placed into your jaw bone in place of a missing tooth. Implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth or used to help hold in a denture to replace multiple or even all teeth in your top or bottom jaw. 

Recession is a term to describe the fact that your gums have moved away from their natural position, making your tooth appear longer. On the top jaw, the gums move up; on the bottom jaw, the gums move down. Recession can be due to but is not limited to aggressive brushing, tooth position, genetics, habits such as grinding.  Sometimes recession can cause sensitivity to temperature changes, especially cold.  Applying sensitivity toothpaste over the exposed root may provide some relief.

Plague is food and bacteria that have attached to a biofilm on your teeth. Easily removed by daily brushing and flossing. 

Also known as tartar, Calculus is plaque that was not properly removed and has now calcified. This makes it very strong and is unable to be removed by brushing and flossing. The best way to remove calculus is to see your dental professional for a hygiene appointment.

Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gums. This is a very early-onset disease, usually related to your oral hygiene at home, as well as other factors such as genetics, diet, etc. Gingivitis is usually noted by gums that bleed and may be slightly swollen. Gingivitis is easily reversible, especially with improving your home care and seeing your dental team on a regular basis. It is very common in adults.

If gingivitis is left unchecked, it will progress to periodontitis or gum disease. This is characterized by bone loss (underneath the gums and usually can’t be seen) and accompanied by recession, gums appear reddish/blue, calculus deposits under the gum. Once the bone is lost, you cannot get it back; all you can do is maintain the current levels. Treatment may include more frequent dental hygiene appointments and may even require periodontal surgery to treat properly.

Rubber Dam 
Rubber dams have been around for over a hundred years, but have recently made a comeback due to Covid-19. It is a sheet of material (now latex-free) that is placed over your teeth with holes for the teeth being worked on to pop through. It is almost like a raincoat for your teeth. Rubber dams help to limit any saliva contamination while treatment is being completed and limits things from going down the patient’s throat. It also helps to reduce aerosols containing viruses and other pathogens, which is why it is so useful during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Rubber dams are the standard of care for root canal procedures, but at Wychwood Dental, we use it for almost everything because it allows our patients to relax and for your dentists to provide the best treatment they can.

If you’re looking for cosmetic dentists and family dentists in Toronto, ON, reach out to Wychwood Dental. We are a comprehensive general dental practice with a focus on the restorative and periodontal health of our patients. With over three decades of experience, we can provide excellent dental care and find solutions for all our clients’ dental needs. 

We offer a wide range of dental treatments, including root canals, dental implants, teeth whitening, and other dental services. We service clients across St. Clair West, Humewood, Cedarvale, Wychwood, Toronto, York, and the Greater Toronto areas. 

To view our full list of services, please click here or get in touch with us here