Dawson Dental’s Glossary of Dental Terminology: Vol. 3

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This is part three of a blog series. Click here to read the previous entry.

There are some simple rules when it comes to maintaining your pristine smile. Brush and floss your teeth twice daily, use an antiseptic mouthwash, make semi-annual trips to the dentist’s office and, most importantly, know your dental terminology.

That last rule might not be so much of a rule as it is a strong suggestion but it’s worth following up on anyway. The brightest smiles tend to be the wisest smiles. That’s why here, at Dawson Dental, we’re taking the time to share our knowledge of dentistry with you.

In the last entry of our dental dictionary, we looked at the difference between artificial teeth and natural teeth, defined apexification and “brushed up” on conditions that cause periodontal disease. This time around, we’ll take a look at the proper definitions of some of the most dental treatments and procedures.


Bleaching: Unlike your coloured laundry, you definitely want to bleach your teeth. (Refer to “whitening”).


Dental Bonding: When your teeth come together in unity and harmony, it’s called dental bonding. That’s not exactly the technical definition but it isn’t actually far off. Dental bonding refers to a simple dental procedure that uses light-hardened resin to repair cracked, chipped and discoloured teeth. Your dentist can usually complete the procedure in one stress-free visit.

Dental Filling: If your dentist has ever told you that you need a dental filling, it’s no cause for concern. A 2008 report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that dentists perform more than 100 million dental fillings in the US each year. It’s a common procedure and an important one. Dental fillings restore teeth damaged from tooth decay and prevent further damage from spreading to sensitive nerves and blood vessels.


Guided Biofilm Therapy (GBT): If you’ve been doing your dental homework then you know that the number one cause of gum disease, tooth decay and dental caries is plaque and tartar buildup. GBT is an innovative 8-step dental treatment process that removes plaque and tartar—i.e., biofilms—from the surface of your teeth. GBT uses pressurized air and water to remove plaque with efficiency and minimal abrasion, making it a perfect option for people with sensitive gums and teeth.

Guided Bone Regeneration (GBR): There’s no reason that you can’t have a strong jaw… bone. GBR is a dental procedure whereby a dental surgeon uses bone grafts to reinforce weakened areas of the alveolar bone, usually around dental implants. For those who would like to “bone up” on their GBR knowledge, the National Library of Medicine offers a more detailed and technical description.

Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR): GTR is a similar dental procedure to GBR but focuses on soft tissues—i.e., gums—instead of hard tissues such as bone. Most often, your dentist or dental surgeon will perform a GTR procedure following a surgical operation where the results were less than hoped for. GTR aims to reattach gum tissue to affected areas.


Root Canal: Most people get shivers at the mere mention of a root canal—with good reason. The root canal itself refers to the space within the tooth that contains the pulp chamber with all of its nerves and blood vessels and the “branches” through which those nerves and blood vessels flow. With respect to dental treatments, a root canal refers to the process of opening a tooth and cleaning out infected biomass from the pulp chamber. It’s as painful as it sounds but, fortunately, there are sedatives for that.


Sealants: Dental sealants save lives. That’s only a slight exaggeration but they definitely do save smiles. Dental sealants are resin or glass ionomer coating that bond to the chewing surfaces of your teeth to protect them from decay. It’s easy to think of dental sealants as a protective coating for your enamel. Since at least 2016, the American Dental Association (ADA) has recommended the application of dental sealants to the occlusal surfaces—i.e., chewing and biting surfaces—of adolescents and adults alike.

Sedatives: Depending on what you’re having done, a trip to the dentist’s office can get a little painful. For that reason and many others, dentists and dental surgeons offer a variety of sedatives. A sedative is any substance that acts as a central nervous system depressant, thusly reducing a patient’s responsivity to their environment and external stimuli. The most commonly used sedatives in dentistry for conscious sedation are propofol, ketamine, midazolam and dexmedetomidine.


Veneers: Dental veneers are similar to dental bonds in that they both use a type of resin to repair damaged or discoloured teeth. However, dental veneers are more costly and take longer to implement but will last much longer than dental bonds. Furthermore, dental veneers can fix more severely damaged teeth. Your dentist may recommend dental bonding if you still have your deciduous teeth—baby teeth—and dental veneers if you have your permanent dentition.


Whitening: No matter how much brushing, flossing, rinsing and repeating you do, there is only one way to get your smile to the next level of brightness—teeth whitening. Teeth whitening or teeth bleaching refers to any number of procedures that use various methods to break down the chromogens on the surface of a tooth to whiten its appearance. Your dentist or dental surgeon will more than likely choose to use a hydrogen peroxide solution along with light treatment to brighten your smile.


The A to Z of Dentistry

We didn’t quite get through all of the dental procedures and treatments today but we’re always updating our glossary of dental terms so stay tuned. In the meantime, we hope that what you’ve learned about dentistry today will bring you one step closer to your brightest smile. And don’t forget to book your next appointment with us today so that we can fight all those tooth-staining chromogens together!