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Have A Dentist Appointment Coming Up?

A dental appointment is filled with a lot of information. The medical field is full of complex terminology that your hygienist or dentist may use. We’ve defined the most commonly used terms you may hear during your next dental check-up, so you don’t have to.


Plaque: A sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums, which, if not removed, can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Tartar: Hardened plaque that forms on teeth when plaque mineralizes over time. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional.

Enamel: The hard outer layer of the tooth that protects the underlying dentin. Enamel is the strongest substance in the human body.

Scaling and root planing: A deep cleaning procedure performed by a dental professional to remove plaque, tartar, and bacterial toxins from the tooth surfaces and root surfaces to treat gum disease.

Examination: The dentist will visually inspect your teeth, gums, and mouth to identify any issues or areas of concern.

Probing: The dentist or hygienist may use a small probe to measure the depth of the gum pockets around your teeth. This helps assess the health of your gums and detect signs of gum disease.

Scaling: Scaling is a procedure performed by a dental hygienist to remove plaque, tartar (hardened plaque), and stains from the tooth surfaces, both above and below the gum line.

Polishing: After scaling, the dental hygienist may polish your teeth using a rotating rubber cup or brush and a gritty toothpaste-like substance. This helps remove surface stains and leaves your teeth feeling smooth.

Dental sealants: Protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars to prevent tooth decay.

Occlusion: The way the upper and lower teeth come together when you bite or chew. Terms related to occlusion may include malocclusion (misalignment of teeth) or overbite/underbite (improper vertical overlap of upper and lower teeth).


We hope that knowing these terms help you navigate your next appointment, so you can focus on your oral health! If you found this article useful, be sure to check out our other ones.

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