dental terms

Recently, the Dental Defence Union (DDU) advised dental professionals to use plain English rather than dental ‘jargon’ that could confuse patients. As the UK’s leading professional indemnity organisation, the DDU’s aim was to avoid potential misunderstandings that could result in a complaint or claim made against the dental professional.

However, as experts in dealing with patients suffering from dental anxiety, at CK Dental we believe that good communication is one of the hallmarks of calming nerves and ensuring a positive dental experience.

Leo Briggs, the deputy head of the DDU, commented in the article in the latest edition of the DDU journal that: “Jargon, acronyms and technical language are commonly used in dentistry. Because we are using the words day in day out, it can be difficult to distinguish what is and isn’t jargon.”

DENTAL TERMS THAT COULD BE CONFUSING TO PATIENTS

The DDU provided a list of dental terms that we dental professionals use commonly, but which might be confusing to patients:

Amalgam – dental amalgam is a material used to fill cavities in the teeth and which has been used in dentistry for over 150 years. It is often called ‘silver amalgam’ and is silver-coloured but actually consists of a combination of metals.

Composite – a composite tooth filling is an alternative filling material to amalgam. It has a number of advantages over amalgam but is mainly preferred because it is tooth coloured, making it much less visible.

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) – the temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects the upper and lower jaw to the temporal bones of the skull and TMD is a condition where the joint isn’t working correctly, often resulting in a number of problems. These include pain in the face or jaw, headaches, tenderness and swelling of the lower face, clicking or popping of the joint or a sensation where the jaw locks or becomes ‘stuck’.

Endodontic treatment – this refers to root canal treatment. This may be necessary to repair or even save a tooth that has become decayed. The root canal of the tooth refers to the nerve and pulp within the tooth which can become infected, leading to abscesses. During treatment, the nerve and pulp are removed and the tooth sealed, after which patients should experience no more pain or further problems from the affected tooth.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD DENTAL COMMUNICATION

Leo Briggs went onto say in the article that by communicating clearly, patients gain “a greater sense of involvement in their own care” and that is at the heart of what we do at CK Dental in Bristol. Dental anxiety can be managed in a number of ways, but the first step is always to ensure that patients have a clear understanding of any treatment we recommend and what it entails.