Atlantic Dental Practice

NHS & Private Dental Treatment

jargon buster

Are you confused by dental jargon?

We've got you covered with our handy Jargon Buster, which gives a brief explanation of dental terms you may hear at the Practice. 


  • Abscess - a collection of pus, usually caused by bacterial infection. They can form inside teeth, gums or bones.
  • Abutment - a metal or ceramic piece screwed into the dental implant allowing a crown or bridge to be cemented into place.
  • Aligner - a clear removable cosmetic appliance used to move and straighten teeth.
  • Amalgam - a traditional silver filling, available on the NHS.
  • Anaesthetic - either Local Anaesthetic, which is a small scratch in the gum that will freeze a tooth (or teeth), or General Anaesthetic which is rarly used in dental treatment, but will send a patient to sleep temporarily whilst treatment is carried out.
  • Bridge - a row of porcelain teeth which are fixed in place and used to fill a gap caused by a missing tooth (or teeth).
  • Calculus - a hard deposit which forms on teeth. It is made when the soft bacteria which settle on your teeth between brushing aren't brushed off. This is often referred to as 'tartar'. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing.
  • Canine Teeth - the pointed teeth just behind your top and bottom front teeth. They are important for eating.
  • Caries - tooth decay.
  • Cavity - a hole in a tooth, usually caused by decay.
  • Check-up/Examination - an examination of your teeth and soft tissues, including X-rays and advice on problem prevention. The dentist will also check for mouth cancer.
  • Crown - an artificial tooth which is fit over your own tooth. Often called a 'cap'.
  • Denture - false teeth that you can take out.
  • Ease - an adjustment made to false teeth.
  • Edentulous - when someone has none of their own teeth.
  • Endodontics - this is the same as Root Canal Treatment (see below).
  • Extraction - when a tooth is taken out.
  • Filling - placed in a hole inside a tooth, this can either be silver or white.
  • Fissure Sealant - a coating placed on the biting surface of back teeth to help prevent decay.
  • Gingivitis - inflamed gums that may bleed when you brush.
  • Implant (Dental Implant) - artificial tooth roots held in the jaw bone to permanently replace missing teeth.
  • Incisors - the top and bottom front teeth.
  • Molar - back teeth used for chewing food.
  • Mouth Guard - used to protect teeth, usually when playing sport. Also called a 'Gum Shield'.
  • Occlusion - how your top and bottom teeth bite together.
  • Orthodontist - braces used to straighten teeth (Also see Aligners above).
  • Palate - the roof of your mouth.
  • Partial Denture - false teeth used when you have only a few teeth missing.
  • Periodontal Disease - when the structures that support the teeth such as gums and bone are unhealthy.
  • Periodontal Treatment - treatment to make your gums healthy and to prevent bones from being lost around the teeth.
  • Plaque - a soft covering of bacteria that forms on your teeth and can be brushed off.
  • Premolars - teeth used for biting which are between the canines and molar teeth.
  • Recession - when the gum has shrunk down a tooth exposing part of the root of a tooth (or teeth).
  • Retainer - an appliance used to keep teeth in their new position after a Brace has been removed.
  • Root Canal Treatment - cleaning out and filling the root of an infected tooth.
  • Scale & Polish - cleaning off all harmful soft and hard deposits from teeth.
  • Tooth Whitening - a treatment which makes teeth whiter.
  • Veneer - a false front surface stuck on to a tooth and made of porcelain to look like a real tooth.