Dental Terms to Know
Plaque. A sticky, naturally occurring film of bacteria that coats the teeth. You get rid of plaque when you brush and floss. If not removed regularly, plaque leads to gum disease.1
Tartar. Plaque that has become hardened with minerals.2 It builds up at the base of the teeth, where it can cause gums to become inflamed and infected.1 Tartar is scraped off when you have your teeth cleaned at your dentist’s office.2
Gingivitis. An early form of gum disease caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth.1 Gums become irritated, tender, and red.1,2 People with diabetes have a greater risk for gingivitis.3
Periodontitis. A severe infection of the gums that occurs when gingivitis isn’t treated. Infection may spread from the gums to the bones that support the teeth. Teeth can loosen and fall out.4
1 “Plaque.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/public/topics/plaque.asp Accessed 2008.
2 “ADA Seal of Acceptance: Floss and Other Interdental Cleaners.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/ada/seal/floss.asp Accessed 2008.
3 “Periodontal (Gum) Diseases.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/public/topics/periodontal_diseases.asp Accessed 2008.
4 “Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/topics/gumdiseases/periodontalgumdisease.htm Accessed 2008.
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