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Term and Definitions

Braces
Those railway tracks glued to the teeth. They cannot be removed except by the orthodontist or by eating hard foods or lollies.
Brackets
Brackets are the little things glued to the teeth as part of braces.
Canines
The third tooth from the centreline in the top and bottom jaw. It is the pointed tooth. The pronunciation puts the emphasis on the "nine". If we are talking about our dog we place the emphasis on the initial "cane" sound. The canine has the largest root of any tooth in the mouth. This is because this is functionally a very important tooth. Consequently, although this tooth is often the only one crooked, it should not be extracted.
Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces are clear braces. They are made from a similar material to our dinner plates, but a bit more refined. Clear ceramic braces are used on all of Dr Peter Vaughan's patients, for no extra charge.
Dental Association
The Australian Dental Association is the association to which most dentists belong. It is in effect the union for dentists and behaves as a union. There are genuine reasons for serious doubts to exist over the integrity and fairness of the Australian Dental Association.
Dental Board
The Dental Board consists of dentists and regulates the dental industry in each state. Complaints of improper practice should be made to the Dental Board. Keep in mind however, that the Dental Board consists of dentists and may appear to be, or may actually be, biased in the favour of dentists.
Dentist
A dentist has to hold a dental degree from an accepted university, and be registered with the Dental Board of the state in which he or she operates. A dentist is allowed to do all general dentistry, as well as work that would usually be performed by specialists. The reason for the latter allowance is that some dentists work in areas where dental specialist services are not available.
Erupting
The process of a tooth coming through the gum.
Extractions
The dental term for pulling a tooth out.
Functional Appliance
Functional appliances are usually plates. They work by holding the jaw in positions different to their normal resting or functioning position. They work on the principle that if we hold a jaw in a position for long enough, it will grow into that position. The method by which they work appears to be well understood by most, but some exaggerations of their effectiveness are made.
Gingiva
The dental term for the gums. Healthy gingiva is pink, not red, with thin edges, not swollen edges. If the gingiva is red or swollen a dentist should be consulted.
Gingivitis
Gingivitis is infection of the gums or gingiva. It is diagnosed when the gums are red and swollen. Careful tooth brushing, flossing and attention to diet will often cure gingivitis, but you should consult your dentist to make sure. If gingivitis becomes worse it becomes periodontitis (see below).
Incisors
The teeth at the front of the mouth. There are normally four in each jaw. They are normally squarish in shape, with the sides slightly rounded. A common orthodontic problem occurs when the lateral (or second) incisors in the top jaw are absent or peg shaped.
Lingual
Lingual refers to the tongue. Lingual braces are placed on the tongue side, ie the inside, of the teeth. They cannot be seen but are rather uncomfortable.
Mandible
The lower jaw.
Mandibular
In or belonging to the lower jaw.
Maxilla
The upper jaw.
Maxillary
In or belonging to the upper jaw.
Maxillofacial Surgeon
A Maxillofacial Surgeon is the next step above an Oral Surgeon. Today a Maxillofacial Surgeon is required to have a dental degree, a medical degree, an Oral Surgical qualification, and then a Maxillofacial qualification.
Molars
The back teeth in the mouth. Most people have three molars in each corner of the mouth, they erupt at the ages of 6 years, 12 years and 18 years. The 18 year molars are commonly called the wisdom teeth and one or more wisdom teeth are missing in over half of the population.
Oral Surgeon
An Oral Surgeon is usually a dentist who specialises in surgery in the mouth, usually wisdom teeth and other minor procedures. Today for new registrations, an Oral Surgeon is required to have both a dental and medical degree.
Periodontics
The field of dentistry involved in the gums. The periodontium is the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone and nourishing the tooth surface.
Periodontist
A Periodontist is a dental specialist who cares for the gums and the supporting tissues of the teeth. This is a very important specialty as gum disease can led to the loss of many teeth as we get older. The Periodontist is the dentist to see if you have red or bleeding gums over an extended period or on a regular basis.
Periodontitis
Periodontitis is broadly described as the gum infection that occurs when pus starts to form under the edge of the gum. The patient risks getting "drop dead" bad breath. It is avoided by careful tooth brushing, flossing and care with diet. Once it has occurred it must be treated by the Dentist or Periodontist. It cannot be cured by tooth brushing or diet alone.
Plates
A general term used to describe orthodontic appliances that the patient can take out and put in.
Premolars
The teeth between the canines and molars. There are two in each corner of the mouth. If extractions are required for orthodontic reasons, it is normally a premolar that is extracted.
Prosthodontist
A Prosthodontist is a dental specialist who does crowns and dentures as well as treating problems in the jaw joints. Prosthodontics is a broad area of specialisation.
Sterile Between Use
This is for general dental instruments that only come into contact with intact skin. They have to be sterilised to stop germs spreading from one patient to the next, but don't have to be sterile when used.
Sterile In Use
This means the instrument must be sterile when it is used. This is for procedures that go into the skin or into the tooth pulp.
Tagging
Tagging is the practice of commencing unnecessary and ineffective treatment on patients in order to 'tag' or hold them to the practice. Very few parents are prepared to change dentists or orthodontists once treatment has started. So often a simple treatment will be commenced simply to place this grab on a patient and reduce the likelihood of them from moving to another dentist or orthodontist.
Wisdom teeth
The wisdom teeth are the molars that erupt around the age of 18 years. Very few people can fit their wisdom teeth in their mouth, and even if room is available they are often not straight.