The ABCs of Pediatric Dentistry

You want the best possible oral care for your child, and sometimes that means discussions with the doctor or his team that involve technical terms, which can be hard to comprehend. We are here to provide a quick resource for parents to reference when they are unsure about the meaning of the top terms used in pediatric dentistry.

If you still have questions about the meaning of specific dental terms following completion of reading this article, please do not hesitate to give our team a call at Michael J. Leach D.D.S. Pediatric Dentistry Phone Number (770) 521-8855.

Abscess: A complication of tooth decay or trauma (such as a broken or chipped tooth). Openings in the tooth enamel allow bacteria to infect the center of the tooth (the pulp), which can lead to infection and cause a toothache.

Cavity: A hole in the tooth caused by decay; can also be called a Cary.

Crown: An artificial tooth or cover made of porcelain or metal.

Decay: A diseased tooth structure that’s softened by a cavity. These “sugar bugs” are removed to create a hard surface so a filling can be placed.

Enamel: The hard surface of the tooth above the gum line

Erupting: New teeth that have broken through the gums and are “on their way in” Teeth are considered erupting until they are entirely in the mouth.

Etchant: A gentle acid used to treat the surface of the prepared tooth so that the filling material will stick to the tooth.

Explorer: A tool used to check teeth for cavities. It is curved and sharp but touches only the teeth. Nine times out of 10, patients don’t even notice it.

Extraction: The removal of a tooth or teeth.

Filling: A plug made of composite material used to fill a tooth cavity.

Fluoride: A common, natural element that is found in soil, water, and foods. Fluoride can also be produced synthetically in drinking water, toothpaste and mouthwashes. Fluoride protects teeth from decay.

Gingivitis: Swollen or inflamed gums caused by plaque around the teeth. Dr. Leach will demonstrate how to brush your child’s teeth to remove plaque effectively.

Gingival: The area toward the bottom or gum side of the tooth.

Gums: The firm flesh that surrounds the roots of the teeth.

Impacted Tooth: A tooth that site sideways below the gum line, usually requiring extraction.

Medical History: Sharing essential details, such as acute or chronic illnesses or hospitalizations. Dr. Leach must know the patient’s health status to provide appropriate and safe treatment.

Night Guard: A plastic mouthpiece worn at night to prevent teeth grinding.

Occlusion: How the teeth come together when the mouth closes; this can also be called ‘bite.’

Plaque: A sticky buildup of acids and bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Primary Teeth: Another word for baby teeth.

Rubber Dam: A square piece of vinyl or rubber used to isolate the teeth during a filling or other treatment; it keeps saliva and other debris away from the tooth.

Rubber Dam Clamp: A ring or button that hugs the back-most tooth in an area isolated with a rubber dam.

Sealants: Clear or shaded pieces of plastic that protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of teeth by keeping out food and plaque that can cause cavities.

Spacers: Removable appliances that are designed to prevent tooth movement. They are generally placed after an extraction or in cases of teeth that were missing from birth. They allow new teeth to come into place and keeps the bite even. (i.e., space maintainers)

Tartar: The hardened plaque that can form on neglected teeth.

We hope that this resource was helpful and can be a reference in times when you need it. Feel free to share it with friends and family. If you are ready to schedule an appointment, click here.