Some common dental terminology explained

Posted By: manager

Published on Aug 01, 2018


Every profession has its own specialised lingo, but when you look at any of the medical fields this lingo becomes a whole language unto itself. In this article we will shed some light on some commonly used but often misunderstood dental terms. Knowing these terms will help you communicate more effectively with your dental professional and hopefully take some of the mystique and trepidation out of your dental treatments and interventions. 


This is dental term for the infectious disease process that causes decay and degradation in the various layers of the teeth. The more common term for an instance of caries is a cavity in the tooth. 


This term is commonly used in orthodontic diagnosis and refers to a misalignment of the jaw or teeth. This can be caused by injury or genetics, and in severe cases surgery is required to correct the problem. 


This is a mercury-silver alloy that is used to fill holes in teeth. This material has been used by dental practitioners in China since around 600 AD and became the material of choice for western dentists in the 1800s. The popularity of Amalgam comes from its strength, durability, ease of use and relatively low cost. 

Resin or Composite

This is a synthetic plastic-like material used for filling teeth. There are advantages and disadvantages to using composite over amalgam for filling holes in teeth. The advantages are that composite can be colour matched to the tooth so it is less noticeable than a silver coloured amalgam filling, resin fillings also bond to the enamel of a tooth better than amalgam, which requires a secondary bonding agent, making it better suited for filling smaller cavities.


A crown is an artificial tooth shaped cap that is attached to an existing tooth. Crowns are used when a tooth has been damaged, either through injury or decay, to the point where there is no longer enough material left to support a filling. Crowns are also used to cover a tooth that is severely discolored or misshapen, to cover a dental implant, or to hold a dental bridge in place. 

Dental bridge

A dental bridge is a synthetic tooth used to replace a missing tooth. There are several types of bridges with the primary variance being they way they are held in place. Common bridges are attached to crowns on either side of the replacement tooth, forming a bridge between them, hence why they are called bridges. Other types of bridges include cantilever, which is attached only on one side, and a maryland bridge, which is attached to the backs of the adjacent teeth without the need for crowns. Bridges can also be attached to one or more implants to replace multiple missing teeth. 

We hope this article has shed some light on these common dental terms. If you are ever unsure about dental terminology, or have questions about any aspect of dental hygiene or dental treatment, be sure to ask your dentist or dental hygienist, they will be happy to explain it to you.  

At Care Dental, we want you to feel safe and empowered when it comes to your dental care. We work with each of our patients to maintain an open dialogue to ensure when you’re in our dental office, you don’t experience those all too common dental appointment jitters. 

If you’d like to learn more about Care Dental and the services we provide, please contact us here