Understanding Dental Terms

Understanding Dental Terms

Do you ever get confused when discussing your care with your dentist because some of the dental terms he or she uses are unfamiliar to you? Dental terms and numbers are unique, and may cloud your ability to understand what your dentist is saying about your teeth. Here is a guide to help you have a better understanding of what all this dental lingo means.

What does the dental term Quadrant mean?

When the dentist is talking to you about your oral health care, he or she will often use the dental term quadrant. This has nothing to do with equations or formulas. The dentist is talking about the different sections of your mouth. The mouth is divided into four parts called quadrants. The upper part of your mouth contains the first two quadrants, and the lower portion of your mouth contains the third and fourth quadrants. The right upper part of your mouth is the first quadrant, followed by the top left side (second quadrant). The bottom of your mouth has the opposite designation. The left bottom side is the third quadrant, and the right bottom side is the fourth quadrant. Since the dentist is looking into your mouth, visually it makes sense to designate the third quadrant underneath the top left second quadrant. In effect, the dentist goes through the quadrants clockwise.

Why does the dentist number my gums?

Dentists have developed a shorthand terminology to help define the health of your gums.  They measure the gap between the pocket of your gum and the nearest tooth.  Each gap in the gum and tooth will be assigned a number, with the smallest number indicating a smaller gap (and healthier gums).  A larger number is a sigh that you have gum problems, and possible plaque and tartar buildup. A gum number of five is a problem and will most certainly lead to the dentist recommending a deep cleaning.  A deep cleaning can help remove any buildup between your teeth and gums, and may help avoid any complications from gum disease.

How is this different than numbering my teeth?

The dentist also has a system to number your teeth to enable him or her to notate healthy and problem teeth, and to help provide you with advice about maintaining good oral hygiene.  Dentists in the United States use a number system called the Universal System.

Having a better understanding of dental terms will help you discuss your dental care more clearly with your dentist and effectively determine the best course of treatment for you. Dr. Ted Melchers and his staff are here to help you understand and decide the best course of treatment for you and your family. Contact us today at info@oldmtpleasantdentistry.com to see how we can best meet your needs.