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Oral Vocabulary


Acid Foods

Highly acid foods can cause dental erosion, which is the irreversible loss of tooth structure. These foods include soft drinks, which contain phosphoric acid. Fruits and fruit juices, which contain citric acid. Yoghurts, which contain lactic acid and sweeteners containing sugar.


Baby’s Teething

Babies suffer from sore gums during the teething process that begins at 6 months of age. Signs of teething include drooling, irritability and sore, tender gums. You can relieve pain and discomfort by gently massaging your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth. Your baby can nibble a cooled rubber teething ring for relief.


Baby’s Tooth

Also called milk teeth. Dentition usually begins between 6 months and 1 year when the first teeth erupt. Birth teeth are also called primary teeth and a child will have 20 milk teeth. Baby’s last teeth will erupt at the age of 3 years.


Bad Breath

Smelly breathing, usually caused by the degradation of food. Other culprits include poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, disease, infection, smoking and a strict diet.



Calcium, along with vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals, is essential for good oral health and a healthy body. Calcium is found naturally in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, and can be taken as a supplement to prevent osteoarthritis.


Canker Sores

Swelling, stains or sores on the mouth, lips or tongue. Unlike cold sores, these are not contagious and are usually caused by stress, allergies or vitamin deficiencies.



Tooth decay caused by bacteria that break down sugar into acid. Early decay, called tooth decay, can be prevented with fluoride.


Cavity Prevention

Regular, thorough brushing with fluoride-enriched toothpaste reduces plaque build-up on the tooth surface and strengthens teeth. Foods and carbohydrates with a high sugar content increase the risk of developing cavities because plaque bacteria will use them as food to produce acids that dissolve tooth enamel.


Dental Check-Up

Examinations almost always include a thorough cleaning, either by a dentist or a dental hygienist. Using special instruments, a dental hygienist scrapes below the gumline, removing accumulated plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. The dentist or hygienist can also polish and floss.


Dental Floss

Use a special floss like material to remove plaque and food particles where a toothbrush can’t reach easily – below the gum line and between your teeth. Because plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, daily flossing is highly recommended.


Dental Plaque

Plaque that has hardened on the teeth. Tartar can form at and below the gum line and damage teeth and gums.


Dental Sensitivity

When you eat hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods, drinks or air make your teeth sensitive to pain. Sensitivity is usually caused by exposed dentine due to gingivorrhea or periodontal disease.



The porous layer of the tooth that protects the nerve. When this layer is exposed, it can cause tooth sensitivity.



Replacements for missing teeth that can be removed and put back in the mouth. Available in complete or partial sets, today’s dentures are natural and comfortable.



A technique to remove plaque, biofilm and tartar from the teeth and below the gums. This can help reverse the effects of gum disease. The final molars emerge at the back of the jaw, sometimes with little space to emerge. This can cause tenderness, swelling, pain and disease. Many people choose to have these teeth removed.


Dry Mouth

Dry mouth (xerostomia) describes the condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Without enough saliva, tooth decay or other infections can be developed in the mouth. You may also not get the nutrients you need if you cannot chew and swallow certain foods.



Dental enamel is the hardest and most mineralized substance in the body and one of the four main tissues that make up a tooth. It is the visible tooth tissue, which is supported by the dentin underneath.



Enamel wear due to a chemical acid process. This acid could be gastric or diet-related.



Also called dental filling, it is a means of restoring a tooth damaged by disintegration to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned cavity with a filling material.



A natural mineral found in water and the earth’s crust. Helps prevent cavities by hardening the enamel.



Inflamed gum tissue caused by bacteria on dental plaque. Mild gingivitis causes little or no pain. You may not notice it. If nothing is done, it can become serious. For some people, gingivitis develops into periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.



Otherwise known as burning mouth syndrome, it is a painful oral condition that affects the tongue, gums, lips, inner cheeks and roof of the mouth. The primary cause of Burning Mouth Syndrome may be related to taste and sensory nerve problems and the secondary cause may be related to nutritional deficiency, dry mouth, food allergies and certain medications.



Gums are the soft tissue lining that surrounds the teeth and covers the upper and lower jaw bones in the mouth. When healthy, gum tissue is usually pink. When inflammation occurs, the tissue can become red, inflamed and bleed.


Gums Bleed

Gums may bleed after brushing or flossing, but persistent bleeding is not normal. If bleeding occurs frequently when you brush or floss your teeth, it could be a sign of gingivitis, or an inflammation of the gums, which is caused by the development of the biofilm of plaque. It is recommended that you consult your dentist for an oral examination and professional cleaning.


Gums Illness

An inflammation of the gum tissue that could affect the teeth and support the bone. Plaque bacteria, acids and certain foods contribute to the development of gum disease.


Gums Recession

The gingival recession results from periodontitis, a more serious form of the gum disease when the loss of the supporting bone leads to a bacterial infection. The gum tissue moves away from the teeth and can expose the roots underneath. This often leads to increased sensitivity to the newly exposed tooth and roots. Gingival recession can also be caused by brushing too hard.



The professional term for bad breath. Can be caused by poor dental hygiene, infection, diet, dry mouth or disease.



A licensed and trained dental professional to clean teeth, take x-rays and perform other services.



Painful sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet and acidic foods and drinks. Typically caused by exposed root areas of the tooth.



There are several types of over-the-counter and prescription rinse products available. These types of mouth rinses may contain fluoride to fight tooth decay, antibacterial ingredients to fight plaque and gingivitis, and other ingredients that can reduce tartar formation or whiten teeth.


Oral Bacteria

The human mouth contains many types of oral bacteria, both good and bad. Some bacteria in the mouth perform important functions that help keep your mouth healthy. Unfortunately, some bacteria can also damage teeth. Two strains of bacteria found in the mouth are particularly destructive: Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli. When these and other types of bacteria are allowed to thrive, they produce acid that causes tooth decay. Other oral bacteria that cause periodontal disease are actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, prophyromonas gingivalis, and bacteriodes forsythus. It is very important to brush and floss daily to avoid cavities and gum inflammation caused by the oral bacteria that develop in the mouth.


Oral Hygiene

Daily oral care for the health of the mouth and teeth. Good oral hygiene includes brushing, flossing, eating healthy foods and regular visits to the dentist.



Orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry that diagnoses, prevents and treats irregularities of the teeth and face, including the position of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontic care involves the use of braces.



A dentist who specializes in the field of orthodontics and treats irregularities of the teeth and face. An orthodontist will diagnose and create braces for the teeth to correct these irregularities.


Periodontal Disease

From simple gum inflammation to severe disease that causes significant damage to the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth.


Periodontal Tissues

The soft and hard tissues that surround and support the teeth in the jaw. They include the gums that cover the jawbone and support the tooth structure inside the alveolar bone, the periodontal ligament (fibres that hold the teeth attached to the jaw) and the bone (alveolar) to which the teeth are attached.



Untreated gingivitis. A serious infection characterized by swollen and tender gums. Periodontitis destroys tissues and bones. This disease could eventually lead to a loss of teeth.



Invisible masses of harmful germs that live in the mouth and stick to the teeth. Plaque can lead to gum disease and destroy gum tissue and teeth.



Recover the minerals lost inside the enamel crystals with fluoride. These minerals are lost due to bacteria that feed on sugars in the mouth and create acids.



This substance helps digestion, protects the teeth and prevents infection. Saliva is also used to chew and swallow food.



The period during which a baby’s primary teeth erupt. During the first few years of life, the first 20 teeth will erupt through the gums, which can cause irritability and discomfort.



Thrush is a fungal infection that appears as red or white patches that develop in the mouth. It usually occurs on the tongue and the inner side of the cheeks, but can spread to the roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils or even the back of the throat. Symptoms include white sores, loss of taste, bleeding if the sores are scratched or rubbed, and pain and cracking at the corners of the mouth.


Tongue Cleaning

Although a toothbrush can be used, tongue scrapers are much more effective at literally scraping plaque, food debris and bacteria from the tongue.


Tooth Whitening

A procedure to lighten teeth and remove stains and discoloration. Whitening must be maintained over time.


Tooth Brushing

Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes helps remove food particles that can damage teeth and gums over time.


Tooth Greying

Stains on the surface or changes in the dental material change the color of the tooth. These include extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related discoloration.


Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives for effective stain removal for improved whitening.