routine dental exam beach dental center Virginia Beach vaWhen it comes to your dental health, it is important to know and understand common dental terms and procedures so that you can make the best and most informed decision about your oral care. Talking to your dentist about anything you don’t understand or have questions about in relation to your dental health is always a good idea and is often encouraged by dentists, as informing patients about dental health is a primary duty in the field of dentistry. Beach Dental Center wants our patients to be comfortable asking questions so that they can be full partners in their dental care.

Often times, patients have a grasp of general dental terms, but it can be easy to get them mixed up or confused with other terms. Below is a list of six commonly confused dental terms and how to interpret them.

Dentist or Orthodontist?

All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. There is a difference in scope and specialization between dentists and orthodontists and therefore, the reasons for going to a dentist or an orthodontist may differ depending on your dental needs.

  • Dentist: Dentists specialize in oral health. Dentists’ treatment is not exclusive to teeth and gums, but also includes inspections of the mouth, neck, jaw, tongue, salivary glands, and the nervous system of the neck and head for proper diagnosis and prevention of oral diseases and other health risks.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist is a type of dentist that has received orthodontic education beyond dental school. Orthodontists primarily focus on dental irregularities and are responsible for diagnosing, intercepting and correcting them.

Bridge or Crown?

Dental bridges and dental crowns are considered common types of cosmetic dentistry, although a crown may be covered under dental insurance as a non-cosmetic procedure if it is used to strengthen a damaged or otherwise unhealthy tooth. Both bridges and crowns provide a way to improve the appearance of teeth and can help with added comfort ability when eating, making them viable options for patients who would like to correct their smiles.

  • Bridge: Dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth. There are multiple types of dental bridges, but the most common type involves placing a fake tooth where a natural tooth is missing and attaching dental crowns to the adjacent teeth to hold the tooth in place.
  • Crown: Dental crowns are the semi-permanent covering that is placed on top of a natural tooth when it has become damaged or decayed to the point in which amalgam or composite fillings would not be able to fix it.

Plaque or Tartar?

Plaque and tartar are often used as synonyms for each other, but what separates them is the level of severity when it comes to build up. It is important to treat plaque before it gets to the point of tartar, which is also known as calculus, due to the difficulty of removal after plaque has developed to tartar.

  • Plaque: When food and drink particles remain on the teeth after eating a drinking, bacteria and other substances cause a sticky film called plaque to build up on teeth. When plaque is not removed regularly by brushing and flossing, it can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Tartar: Tartar happens when plaque is not removed regularly and thus is allowed to harden and create calculus. Once plaque has turned into tartar, it cannot be removed by a toothbrush and must be removed by a dentist during a dental cleaning.

These are just a few dental terms that patients may have a difficult time in understanding their full meanings. If you are curious about any other dental terms and how they may pertain to your overall dental health, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist at Beach Dental Center for more information during your next appointment.  Call us today at (757) 496-0993 to schedule!