dental termsWhen 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.  Wake Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry wants our patients and their families to be comfortable asking questions about what they hear.  

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 four commonly confused dental terms and what they really mean!

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. Dental treatment is not exclusive to teeth and gums; it 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.

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.  Kids especially need help to brush and floss properly to remove plaque buildup. 
  • 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 parents and kids may have heard in the past.  Wake Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry works hard to educate our patients and their families about oral health and dental care.  If you’ve got questions about any dental terms you’ve heard in the past or if it’s just time for your child’s next appointment, contact us at 919-719-1780 to schedule!