Welcome back! We appreciate you returning for the third post in our multi-part series highlighting common clinical dental terms that you may learn about or hear during your visit. As a friendly reminder, these sections appear in alphabetical order, so if you notice that we’re missing a particular dental term that you’re interested in or curious about, send us a message and let us know!
K – Terms
Keratin: Keratin is a fibrous structural protein and is the key structural material making up the outer layer of human skin. It is also a main component of hair and nails. To understand the next term, you must first be familiar with what keratin is!
Keratinized Gingiva: This is one of two kinds of gingiva, or gum tissue, in the mouth. Keratinized gingiva is the gum tissue that surrounds the necks of the teeth; it’s thick and protective, and not designed to be flexible.
L – Terms
Labial: In dentistry, this refers to the part of the tooth that faces the inside of the lip area of the face instead of the buccal (facing the cheek) area.
Laminate Veneer: Laminate Veneers are super thin layers of porcelain created to look like a tooth. They are placed and bonded over the front teeth and serve as a cover up for discolored and damaged teeth.
Least Expensive Alternative Treatment (LEAT): A treatment designed to limit the out of pocket expense for a patient or the cost to the insurance company with limited dental coverage. Some insurance companies only offer benefits for the least expensive alternative treatment.
Lesion: An area of diseased tissue that looks like an open sore or a laceration. Lesions can vary in size/length & can be found anywhere throughout the mouth, as well as in other parts of the body.
Limited Oral Evaluation: A dental exam for someone who is not a patient that is intended to screen for oral cancer, or to evaluate minors or members of limited means populations for possible dental or oral diseases and/or problems.
Line Angle: In dentistry, this is the area at which two surfaces of the crown of the tooth meet. It can also refer to the area at which two surfaces of a tooth cavity meet.
Lingual: An adjective that refers to the tongue and that can be used with other anatomical terms to describe location; i.e., sublingual means under the tongue.
Local Anesthesia: Local anesthesia refers to an injection or application of an anesthetic drug that only affects a specific area of the body instead of the entire body, as with general anesthesia.
M – Terms
Malignant: In dentistry, this may refer to melanomas, lesions, or anything that may be considered infectious, spreading or cancerous.
Mandible: The lower jaw.
Maxilla: The upper jaw.
Microabrasion: This refers to the mechanical removal of a small amount of tooth structure to eliminate superficial enamel discoloration defects.
Molar: Molars are the teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; they are grinding teeth that boast large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.
Mouthguard: This is an individually molded device primarily designed to be worn to help prevent injury to the teeth and their surrounding tissues.
Mucous Membrane: This refers to the lining of the oral cavity (as well as other canals and cavities of the body).
N – Terms
National Provider Identifier (NPI): A unique 10-digit number given to medical or healthcare providers that is issued as a HIPAA standard; providers must use this number in all administrative and financial duties.
Necessary Treatment: Treatment that must be performed in order to prevent more damage and danger to other parts of the mouth.
Noble Alloys: These are certain metals, like gold and platinum, that are used to help make crowns and fillings.
O – Terms
One-Day Crown: Also known as a same day crown, this is when your dentist will prepare your tooth, take digital impressions, mill your custom crown in-office, and securely place your crown before sending you home with a functional and beautiful smile. We use a digital process called CEREC®, which allows us to fabricate crowns, inlays, onlays and some veneers without having to send cases to a dental laboratory. Through CAD-CAM technology right in our office, we can often produce & insert the restoration in the same day.
Onlay: Larger versions of inlays, or restorations that are hardened and shaped before they go into your tooth. This process involves taking an impression of your tooth and its neighboring teeth after the decay has been removed. The materials available for this process are gold, composite resin and ceramic. They offer a stronger, longer lasting alternative to filling materials and are cemented (glued) or bonded into the tooth once they are properly fitted.
Oral: Pertaining to the mouth.
Oral Diagnosis: How a dentist determines the oral health condition of an individual patient; this is achieved through the evaluation of data, including: oral history, direct examination, patient conference, and clinical aids and tests that may be necessary.
Overdenture: A removable prosthetic device that overlies and may be supported by retained tooth roots or implants.
Stay tuned for our next installment of common dental terms – there are still a couple of future installments remaining that you’ll want to bookmark! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time with any dental health-related questions.