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Glossary

  • Anticipatory guidance: Information given to families to promote health.
  • Bacteria: Microorganisms commonly referred to as “germs” that can cause disease.
  • Cavity: Hollow area or hole caused by bacterial acids that attack tooth enamel.
  • Child: Refers to children from birth to age 6.
  • Community water fluoridation: Process of adjusting amount of fluoride in drinking water to a level recommended for preventing tooth decay.
  • Debris: Soft foreign matter attached loosely to a tooth.
  • Dental arch: Curve of row of teeth in each jaw.
  • Enamel: Hard, glossy, white covering of tooth crown.
  • Fissure: Deep pits and grooves in chewing surface of a tooth.
  • Fluoride: Mineral that occurs naturally and is released from rocks into soil, water, and air. Fluoride can stop or reverse tooth decay and stimulate new bone formation.
  • Fluoride varnish: Lacquer containing sodium fluoride that is painted on teeth and that appears to stop bacterial activity and reduce dental plaque.
  • Fluorosis: Cosmetic condition that affects teeth. It is caused by overexposure to fluoride during first 8 years of life, when most permanent teeth are forming.
  • Infection: Process of infecting or state of being infected.
  • Permanent teeth: Second set of teeth (32 in number) that erupt in mouth after loss of primary teeth. Also called “adult teeth.”
  • Pit: Small indentation (dent) in crown of tooth.
  • Plaque: Colorless sticky film of bacteria, saliva, and food particles that covers tooth surfaces.
  • Primary teeth: First set of teeth (20 in number) that begin erupting in mouth, usually when a child is around age 6 months.
  • Risk assessment: Process of determining a person’s potential risk and protective factors.
  • Saliva: Liquid produced and secreted by salivary glands.
  • Silver diamine fluoride: Clear liquid that combines antibacterial effect of silver with remineralizing power of fluoride to stop progression of tooth decay.
  • Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans): Type of bacteria found in mouth that is primarily responsible for tooth decay.
  • Systemic: Of, relating to, or common to a system.
  • Tooth decay: Active process of tooth destruction resulting from interactions between teeth, food particles, and bacteria.
  • Topical: Designed for or involving local application to or action on a bodily part.
  • Xylitol: Low-calorie sugar substitute used in certain chewing gums and other food products.