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Dental terms simplified – what your dentist means

Dental terms simplified – what your dentist means

Sometimes when you visit the dentist, you may come across terms and expressions which you haven’t heard before. Many people are embarrassed about asking what these terms mean.

So, in case you ever wondered but were afraid to ask, here is a brief run-down of all those tricky phrases which you might encounter at the dentist, concerning your dental health, and exactly what they mean:


Bridges are a method by which your dentist can artfully fix replacement teeth to natural teeth on either side of a gap. You might be in need of a bridge if you have a dental implant fitted, for example.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry is basically any service which is designed to improve the outward appearance of your teeth. This might include crowns, veneers, dental implants and tooth whitening to give you a more confident smile.


A Crown is a cap which is fixed to the top of a weaker tooth, covering it above the gum line to protect it from decay and improving its outward appearance.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are an excellent alternative to more unwieldy, uncomfortable dentures. These are perfect artificial teeth, replicas of your original teeth. They are securely fixed to your jawbone to hold them in position within your mouth, so that they can sit neatly and comfortably next to your surrounding teeth. As permanent, long-lasting, stable, artificial teeth, dental implants will once again enable you to eat all the foods you enjoy.


Extraction is the process of removing teeth. Children sometimes need to have teeth removed by dentists to make way for their new, adult teeth coming in swiftly behind them. Teeth might also need to be removed due to injury, infection or decay. We carry out a full range of extraction operations for those of all ages, as clinically required.


Your dental hygienist looks after your oral hygiene and is dedicated to stopping tooth decay and gum disease in their tracks before they get going. Alongside your team of expert dentists here at High Street Dental Practice, your dental hygienist provides ‘scale and polish’ treatments to give your teeth an extra special buff. They also offer advice and specialist therapy for the prevention and treatment of gum disease.

Periodontal Treatment

The word ‘periodontal’ comes from the Greek words ‘peri’ (meaning ‘around’) and ‘odous’ (meaning ‘tooth’). Consequently, ‘periodontal treatment’ implies any form of dentistry which supports the structures of teeth and the diseases and conditions that affect them. We use the term ‘periodontal treatment’ to refer to the treatment of gum disease, and a programme of special care which will halt the progression of gum erosion in its tracks.

Root Fillings

A root filling is the process of removing damaged or dead pulp from the tooth itself. This means that the remaining tooth can then be repaired. Your dentist will then fill the space with a silver-coloured (amalgam) or white-coloured (composite) substance, to protect the tooth in the future.


Orthodontics (another word with a Greek origin), means the treatment of irregularities in the teeth, usually through braces. At High Street Dental Practice, our dentists offer all types of braces for teeth, including short-term, clear-coloured braces. All braces aim to improve the appearance of your smile by altering the position of your teeth gradually over time.


Teeth-whitening is the process which improves your teeth’s cosmetic appearance. At High Street Dental Practice, our dentists offer a professional teeth-whitening service. This is proven to be safe and effective. For details on this service, please get in touch.


Dentists place crowns over the tops of teeth to protect them from infection and decay and to improve their appearance. Dentists also place veneers across the front of existing teeth to give your smile a smoother finish. They neatly hide formerly cracked or broken teeth and also protect underlying teeth from further wear and tear.

These are the most popular terms which you hear your dentist talk about. Yet if you are still puzzling over a particular word or phrase which we haven’t mentioned here, please take a look at this comprehensive Glossary of Terms by the British Dentistry Association – a really excellent resource:

At High Street Dental Practice, our team of qualified dental practitioners and oral hygienists are happy to help advise you. We can help to talk you through each process and guide you on all the terminology step by step, so you need never be in the dark.

If you need any advice from us at all, just ask!

To book an appointment with one of our expert dentists here at High Street Dental Practice, please call us on 01684 293091.