Dental Terms Explained By Your Streatham Dentists

Explanations of some dental terminology you may have come across, but not understood.

Considering dental treatmentWhether it is during dental surgery, a check up or reading about it online, patients will inevitably come across words that they don’t understand related to dentistry.

Whilst dentists may use these every working day, for a patient they can be somewhat confusing and, in some cases, may cause some anxiety for something that sounds more serious than it is.

In today’s, and in future blogs, we will take a look at a few of these terms to enable our patients understand a little more about what we mean.

Minimally invasive dentistry

Let’s start with a relatively straightforward one. As you can probably guess, this means that our dentists will endeavour to keep as much of the natural tooth as possible when performing a procedure, something our dentist Samantha Pring is very keen to do. A good example of this is when a filling is needed. Amalgam is the most common filling material used but it does sometimes require more of the tooth to be removed than some other methods as the tooth has to be shaped to hold the filling in place. This is why we prefer to use white dental fillings where we can. These often require less of the tooth to be removed as the material bonds well with the enamel.


This is simply a medical term for teeth grinding. It is thought that this is usually related to stress and can have a major impact on the teeth. From worn enamel that may lead to tooth sensitivity, to broken and shattered teeth, it can be very harmful indeed. Whilst we will do all that we can to help whilst a patient is suffering from this, our real benefit comes once the issue is resolved and we can then look at restoring the teeth with treatments such as a dental crown.


If you hear a team member of the Confidental Clinic in Streatham say this, they are referring to tooth decay. Providing that this is detected early enough, the tooth can usually be restored by removing the decaying material and filling the tooth. More severe cases of caries may require a crown in order to provide sufficient strength to the restored tooth. In the most severe cases, the tooth may need to be extracted but we will avoid this where we can.


This is the layer of the tooth that lies just beneath the hard enamel exterior. It is a softer material that contains ‘tubules’ that allow messages to be sent to the brain via the nerves in the tooth. An example of this occurs when the enamel becomes worn or cracked. If a person has a tooth affected in this way and drinks a hot or cold drink, they are likely to notice some instant discomfort as their teeth will be more sensitive.

Dry socket

This can occur following an extraction. As part of the healing process, a blood clot is allowed to form in the area of the extraction. Every effort should be made to keep this in place by not poking at it with your finger or other implement. Occasionally, they will come out and this leaves the treated area unprotected and can cause a lot of discomfort. If this should happen to you, please call us and allow your dentist to treat this for you.

Impacted teeth

This is a tooth, or teeth, that have not erupted correctly and may be lying at an angle or have become trapped by another tooth. This most commonly happens with wisdom teeth and will sometimes require surgical intervention to correct or extract the tooth to prevent discomfort and possible infection.


This is a dental term for when teeth are crooked or out of position. This can not only have an aesthetic effect, spoiling our smile, but can also cause premature wear on other teeth. Crooked teeth can also be more difficult to clean and it is therefore advisable to have orthodontic treatment (braces) to correct any teeth affected in this way.


Our molar teeth are the flat surfaced teeth at the rear of the mouth. These are the ones that we predominantly use for chewing our food, breaking it down so that it can be digested more easily. Because of the work that they do, and the position in the mouth that makes cleaning them less easy, they are one of the more common teeth to suffer from decay (caries). We advise patients to take care when cleaning their teeth to make sure to clean these well, especially at the rear of each back tooth. It may not be the easiest place to clean, but perseverance will help you to avoid the need for a filling, or worse.

We hope that you enjoyed this blog and perhaps learned something from it too. We will continue this theme in a future blog and are happy to explain any dental term that you find confusing.

The team at the Confidental Clinic are always happy to see both existing and new patients and you can book an appointment by calling us on 020 8674 2052.