Anyone looking at getting some dental work done might find that their visit is just a little bit scary but not because of the sound of a drill! What they might notice is that a few new terms have popped up around the office that are unfamiliar. It used to be that the most you ever heard coming out of dentist’s office was talk of braces and dentures, but there’s more going on around the dentist’s chair now.

So, what are all of these new terms and what are they used for? Here’s a few of the latest and what they do:

Orthodontics – This isn’t a device fitted to the mouth, but is actually an umbrella term for the branch of dentistry that deals with any tooth irregularities. It used to be a term that was most associated with a specialized dentist who fitted people with braces, but this has become better known for its wider meaning in recent years.

Orthodontics can actually cover problems in the teeth and in the jaws, so that an orthodontist actually does a lot more than people think they do. Orthodontists do fit people with braces, but they also are knowledgeable on fitting other brace-oriented prostheses like Invisalign. An orthodontist is also the expert to consult when a person is having something like a dental implant procedure done.

The best way to think of an orthodontist is of something like a dental specialist when something is irregular about a person’s teeth.

Dental Bridges–Dental bridges are pretty well what they sound like. They operate to bridge the gap between teeth where one or more teeth are missing. This is done by putting a crown on each tooth on either side of the gap. The gap, itself, is then filled with one or more false teeth, completing the bridge. Dental bridges can be made of a number of different materials such as metal alloys, gold, and porcelain.

Who should get a dental bridge? The ideal person for a dental bridge is anyone who has lost one or more teeth in one specific spot in their mouth. To be specific, this isn’t for anyone who has lost a tooth in one part of their mouth and lost another tooth in a different part of their mouth. Dental bridges are specific to filling in major gaps in a person’s smile.

Dentures – Dentures have been around for some time, but not everyone is familiar with them, although they may have heard of them. The purpose of dentures is to replace the missing teeth in a person’s smile or to replace all of them. In the case of a complete denture set, a custom plastic base the color of gum tissue is created with sets of false teeth. Once inserted into the mouth, these new teeth are held in place by the gums.

In the case of a partial denture, the same plastic base is created with a limited number of false teeth with a metal framework to hold the dentures in place. Dentures are the most common method used to replace some or all of the missing teeth in a person’s mouth. As a result, this is an option for most people, with the exception of someone who is only missing one tooth.

Invisalign – Everyone has heard of or known someone who has had braces. They’ve been around for decades, but not everyone is a fan of them. Braces are difficult to wear and take quite some time to fit properly to a person’s mouth. They’re also infamous for costing quite a bit of money and equally well known for being time consuming. There really wasn’t any alternative, though, for a straight smile, so people just had to put up with them.

It’s Invisalign that has offered the first real alternative to braces. Invisalign works according to the same principle to straighten out a smile, but these are made of a flexible plastic and can be easily removed. The primary component of Invisalign is mainly cosmetic. Anyone who has seen braces knows that they can be unsightly while Invisalign involves a transparent prosthesis placed over the teeth in order to align them correctly. The advantage of this is that most people won’t even notice that it’s there!

The people who would be most interested in Invisalign are children and adults who want a straighter smile without the hassle of having braces fitted. This is generally considered to be a more comfortable, easier alternative to traditional braces.

People who know these terms will find that their visits to the dentist are a little easier and their dentist might just be impressed to discover a patient who actually understands a few of these more obscure words!