7 Dental Terms You've Probably Heard But Never Understood - Part 2!

Here is the second half of our 2-part series on all the dental terms you’ve probably heard but never understood. After reading this you’ll be able to really wow your dentist with your new vocab! 

If you didn’t learn at least one new word in the last section, we guarantee you will in this one!


(pronounced like di-a-ste-ma)

Diastema is a fancy word for the gap between your teeth. In some cases, it occurs between the two front teeth. Many people choose to close this gap, but celebrities, such as Michael Strahan, sometimes build their careers on this signature look. If you have a diastema, ask your dentist to share what options are available to you to either close or keep the gap!


(pronounced like en-do-don-tist)

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in tooth pain, disease, and infection. They can diagnose and treat tooth pain and primarily perform root canals. Endodontists generally treat problems involving the soft inner tissue of the tooth, known as dental pulp. This dental pulp is made of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.


(pronounced like gin-gi-vae)

Gingiva is another word for the gums—or the tissue that surrounds the teeth and protects where they enter the jawbone. The gingiva is attached to the tooth,which forms a seal between the bones of the jaw and the base of the teeth. If you don’t practice good oral hygiene (like brushing and flossing), plaque can build up and cause an infection called gingivitis.

Gingival Hyperplasia

(pronounced like gin-gi-val hy-per-pla-si-a)

Also known as gingival enlargement, gingival hyperplasia refers to the overgrowth of gum tissue around the tooth. Those with this condition essentially have too much gum tissue. The gums can appear red or bright pink, soft, shiny, and they may bleed easily. Possible causes of this condition can include an inflammatory response, drug induced, genetic conditions, or systemic conditions. 


(pronounced like inter-prox-i-mal)  

The interproximal area is the space that lies between two adjacent teeth that is occupied by the gum. It’s important to keep this area clean as interproximal decay can occur in a situation where the gum inside the interproximal begins to decay. Flossing is the best way to prevent interproximal decay. You can also buy an interproximal brush to help keep this area clean as well. 


(pronounced like over-den-chur)

No, an overdenture is not something to cover traditional dentures with. Overdentures are essentially implant-supported dentures. They’re prosthetic devices that help alleviate some of the problems associated with traditional dentures, such as slippage. This type of denture option is usually preferred by those who have too many teeth to undergo a full mouth restoration, and enough bone to support dental implants. Overdentures can easily be removed and can be comfortably worn while talking and eating. 


(pronounced like re-line) 

This one sounds pretty self-explanatory. Basically, a reline is done to resurface the tissue side of a denture with new base material. This helps give it a more comfortable fit. Denture relines are important to do as your mouth changes shape. Not choosing to get a denture reline can put you at greater risk for your dentures to fall out. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check in with your dentist if you begin experiencing any discomfort or changes with your dentures.

Submandibular Glands

(pronounced like sub-man-dib-u-lar) 

The submandibular glands are the pair of glands located on the floor of the mouth, under the lower jaw. They are one of the three glands in your mouth that produce saliva. As we covered in a previous blog post, saliva is important to keeping the mouth moistened, and helps with chewing, swallowing, digestion, and keeping the mouth clean.


(pronounced like un-erupted) 

An unerupted tooth is one that has formed but that has not emerged from the gums. The most common unerupted teeth are wisdom teeth. Unerupted teeth are caused by lack of space in the mouth. When teeth are unerupted, they can cause discomfort and even lead to infection. If you experience any pain or discomfort with an unerupted tooth, give us a call at (804) 794-4588.