Bright Futures Oral Health Pocket Guide



bacteria: microorganisms commonly referred to as "germs" capable of producing disease under the right conditions

caries (dental caries): infectious disease process leading to tooth decay

crown: the part of the tooth above the gum line; also a restorative "cap" that covers a cracked or broken tooth, unfixed by a filling

debris: soft foreign matter attached loosely to tooth

demineralization: loss of mineral from tooth enamel during early stages of caries; may appear as a small white area on tooth surface

dental home: a dentist who provides primary, preventive, and maintenance oral health services to an individual on a periodic basis

dental sealant: thin, plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars and premolars) to prevent tooth decay

enamel: hard, glossy, white material that covers the outside of the tooth

eruption: when a tooth emerges from the gums

fissure: anatomic groove in the surface of a tooth

fluoridation: addition of fluoride to community water systems

fluoride: mineral that can be found in water and toothpaste that helps prevent and reduce tooth decay

fluoride varnish: lacquer containing 5 percent sodium fluoride that is painted on teeth to reduce tooth decay

fluorosis: condition that results from consuming excessive fluoride; causes teeth to become discolored and the enamel of the teeth to look spotted, pitted, or stained

malocclusion ("bad bite"): teeth that fit together poorly as a result of crowded, missing, or crooked teeth; extra teeth; or a misaligned jaw

molars: large, broad teeth at the back of the mouth used for crushing and grinding food

periodontal disease: bacterial infection of supporting structures of the teeth (gums, bones, and ligaments) which, if left untreated, can destroy the support of the teeth in their sockets, thus causing tooth loss

permanent teeth (adult teeth): second set of teeth (32 in number) that come into the mouth after the loss of the primary teeth

plaque: thin, colorless, sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth; main cause of caries and periodontal disease when allowed to remain on teeth over a period of time

primary teeth (deciduous teeth): first set of teeth (20 in number) that come into the mouth, usually when an infant is around ages 6 to 10 months

saliva: watery secretions of glands of the mouth

Streptococcus mutans: type of bacteria commonly found in the mouth, associated with caries

tooth decay: see caries