Glossary of Some Cosmetic Dental Terms

The silver-mercury filling material used for over 100 years in dentistry. Many concerns have been voiced over the safety of this material due to the mercury content. Dr. Waldman has chosen not to use this material in her practice.
Bridges: Fixed Bridgetwo crowns on teeth on either side of a missing tooth with a false tooth (pontic) joining the crowns. Bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth but a natural tooth must be on either side of the gap to support the bridge.
Bonding: The technique of applying composite resin or porcelain to the teeth by etching the tooth surface and using special adhesives to attach the composite resin or porcelain to the tooth.
Caps or Crowns: The restoration of teeth with colour-matched porcelain. Made from porcelain, crowns are bonded to the prepared tooth, providing lasting changes by altering the colour, shape or position of the tooth.
Composite Resin: Tooth coloured “Plastic like” material used to restore teeth to a natural appearance, restoring decay or changing tooth appearance.
Cusp: The part of the molar or bicuspid that is pointed (unless worn down) and used to grind and tear food.
Dental Implants: a root shaped screw placed into the jaw bone and used to support a crown or denture.
Diastema: A space or gap that occurs between two adjacent teeth.
Dentin: The tooth material directly under the enamel layer. It is somewhat softer than enamel and more yellow in colour.
Diastema: The tooth material directly under the enamel layer. It is somewhat softer than enamel and more yellow in colour.
OverdentureEdentulous: having no teeth.
Enamel: Enamel is the outermost layer of a healthy tooth. It is translucent is nature, as well as very hard and shiny.
Gingiva: A dental term to describe “gums”. (see Gummy Smiles)
Gum Lift: The gum line is surgically lifted, exposing more of the tooth that is buried under the gums, yielding a more balanced appearance as well as longer looking teeth.
Home Whitening: Home whitening is achieved through the use of custom made clear acrylic arch forms “trays”. The patient is provided with two trays, one for each of the upper or lower arches. The patient places a special whitening gel into each tray, which are then worn for a few hours at a time.
Implants: Surgically placed, artificial tooth replacements.
Implants: Surgically placed into the site where teeth are missing, they are can be used to replace single teeth or to secure dentures when multiple teeth are missing.
Inlays: Smaller than “Onlays”, these are used to replace tooth structure that is missing due to decay, old restorations (fillings) or fractures; can be made from new “high tech” plastics such as ceromers, composite resin or from various types of porcelain.
Margin: The interface where the restoration meets the natural tooth. Margins of “porcelain fused to metal” crowns often appear dark or have a dark line near the gingiva (due to the absence of light transmission to the root of the tooth). This problem has been solved by the use of “All Porcelain Crowns” allowing for the creation of a natural looking restoration.
overdenture-with-implantsOverdenture/Teeth In A Day : a permanently fixed or removable denture that is supported or retained by remaining teeth or implants under the denture and not visible in the mouth when the denture is in place.
Orthodontics (Braces): The movement of teeth to healthier and more esthetic positions.
Onlays: Essentially the same as inlays, except that they restore a larger portion of the tooth including part or all of a cusp.
Orthodontics: The movement of teeth into healthier and more esthetic positions in the mouth. This is accomplished through the use of “braces” (wires and brackets) or removable devices called “orthodontic appliances”.
Pontic: the false tooth replacing the missing tooth. Usually the middle tooth of a bridge.
Porcelain: A glass-like substance (much like porcelain dishes), that is made in special ovens. It is used to create dental restorations such as veneers, crowns, onlays, inlays and bridges.
Power Bleaching: This is accomplished through the careful application of a chemical directly to the teeth in a controlled dental office environment. Visible results are much faster, often within 2 hours.
Veneers: Equivalent to the “false finger nails” of Dentistry. Made from porcelain, veneers are bonded to the prepared tooth, providing lasting changes by altering the colour, shape or position. The platinum standard of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Whitening of Teeth (Bleaching): Can be accomplished through various techniques. All techniques produce the same results.  The difference is in the time that it takes for the final result and the convenience for the patient.  The three most common means are: Home Whitening Strips, Home Bleaching Trays and In-Office tooth-whitening.  The “In-Office” tooth whitening is usually the most convenient because the final result is accomplished in under 2 hours, while the Home Bleaching requires several days, often weeks with possible tooth sensitivity for the duration of this time