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Glossary

(See printer-friendly version for Vocabulary Activity.)

bacteria • tiny germs. Those in your mouth can create acid which can cause tooth decay.

braces • wires which put pressure on teeth to move them into correct position

calcium • mineral which makes teeth and bones strong

canines (cuspids) • pointed teeth at the sides of your mouth that are used to tear food

cavity • a hole in a tooth caused by decay

crown • the part of the tooth that shows above the gum

dental hygienist • a person who cleans teeth, takes dental X-rays, and helps patients learn how to care for their teeth

dentin • the layer of a tooth below the enamel

dentist • a doctor who takes care of teeth

digestion • breaking down food so that it can be used by the body

enamel • the hard white outside layer of a tooth

filling or amalgam • material the dentist puts into a cavity to stop tooth decay

floss • special thread used to clean food and plaque from between teeth

fluoride • a mineral which may be added to water or toothpaste to make enamel stronger

gum • soft pink skin that covers the jawbone and surrounds the necks of teeth

incisors • flat front teeth used for cutting

molars • wide grinding teeth at the back of the mouth

permanent teeth • teeth that replace the primary teeth

plaque • a sticky film with germs that forms on your teeth and can cause cavities

primary teeth • a person’s first set of teeth, often called baby teeth

pulp • blood vessels and nerves at the center of the tooth

root • the base of the tooth. The root holds the tooth in the jawbone.

saliva • the watery liquid in the mouth that mixes with food and helps digestion

toothbrush • a small brush for cleaning teeth

X-ray • a special photograph showing the bone structure inside the body. Dentists use X-rays to see between and inside teeth.

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