Patients Need to Brush Up on Dental Terminology

Dentistry Today


Many of your patients aren’t familiar with key terminology that you use every day in your practice, which may lead to unease and even anxiety while they are in the dental chair, according to a survey by the Delta Dental Plans Association.

Nearly all of the survey’s respondents (92%) said they were familiar with plaque, which can lead to periodontal disease. Also, 87% of those surveyed said they were familiar with gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Plus, 67% were familiar with periodontal disease itself. 

Familiarity varied in other areas of oral health, however, with only 60% of respondents knowing what sealants are.

“Sealants are simple, painless protection against cavities. Consider sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molar teeth come in,” advised Joe Dill, DDS, MBA, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and network strategy. 

“Although dental sealants tend to last for years, they should be regularly checked by your dentist for wear,” said Dill.

Next, 36% were familiar with prophylaxis, 25% were familiar with caries, and 19% were familiar with bruxism. This unfamiliarity extends to how patients feel about going to the dentist, with 31% admitting to postponing a trip to the dentist because they were afraid of treatment.

“Our oral health has implications for a lifetime, and receiving the proper care can influence overall health,” said Dill, who advises patients to ask questions when they are obtaining a dental health diagnosis or treatment plan recommendation.

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