Community Dental Clinic Glossary


Antibiotic Prophylaxis – Some patients require antibiotics before coming to the dentist, even for cleanings. These patients include people with certain heart conditions and/or people who have had a total joint replacement. Due to changes in the guidelines in recent years, we no longer recommend antibiotic prophylaxis for patients with heart murmurs. If you are a new patient and suspect that you will require antibiotic prophylaxis, please inform us of this before coming to your appointment as the antibiotics should be taken 1 hour before any dental work is done.

Anxiety – It is not uncommon for people to have anxiety about coming to the dentist. At the Community Dental Clinic, we work hard to ensure you have a positive, stress-free experience. In addition, we provide our patients with the option to use Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas), which is a very safe, inexpensive and effective way to help you feel relaxed.

Baby teeth – Your child’s baby teeth are very important and help your child to eat, speak and have a nice smile. Baby teeth also help the adult teeth to come in properly. If a baby tooth is lost early, the other teeth may shift into that area and the adult teeth may come into the mouth crooked. Also, if a baby tooth is infected, it can damage the permanent adult teeth that are developing below it. For these reasons, it is very important to bring your child in for their first dental visit shortly after the eruption of their first tooth. This will help your child feel more comfortable going to the dentist and will provide us with an opportunity to make sure everything is developing properly. It is also a great chance to discuss with the parent some important facts about caring for the child’s teeth, such as never putting the child to bed with a bottle of anything other than water.

Bridge – Also known as a fixed partial denture, a bridge replaces a missing tooth or teeth by literally bridging the gap between the remaining teeth. A bridge is made of gold, porcelain or a combination of the two, and it is bonded to remaining teeth (or implants) for support. Therefore, unlike removable dentures, bridges can only be removed by a dentist.

Bruxism – This is a very common habit also known as teeth grinding and usually occurs at night, so some patients do not even realize they are doing it. If your jaw feels tired or “pops” in the morning, this is usually a sign of bruxing and you should consider talking with us about options to stop this destructive habit. We will also evaluate your teeth during dental exams to make sure that you are not wearing your teeth down.

Calculus – Calculus (also known as tartar) is plaque that has, overtime, hardened onto the teeth. It is full of bacteria and can cause severe inflammation of your gums (gingivitis). This is the early stage of periodontal disease, which has been shown to increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and unhealthy pregnancies due to periodontal bacteria entering your bloodstream!

Canker sore – Also known as an aphthous ulcer, canker sores tend to be very painful and usually last for around 2 weeks. They are not contagious (as opposed to a cold sore, which is very contagious). The pain associated with canker sores can be treated at the Community Dental Clinic with laser energy.

Cavity – A cavity (dental caries) is a decayed area of your tooth filled with bacteria. As bacteria eat the sugar left on your teeth, they release acid, which breaks down (literally dissolves) your tooth in that area. This effect is made worse by acidic foods and drinks like soda and fruit juices. Also sticky candies and foods hold the sugar in direct contact with your tooth for a longer period of time, allowing the bacteria continuously eat, and therefore continuously deposit acid on your teeth. As the tooth wears away in those areas, a deeper and deeper hole is created in your tooth. Once the acid from the bacteria has completely worn through the outside (enamel) of your tooth, a permanent cavity is created and will continue to grow bigger unless a filling is done to clear out the bacteria in that area. The good news is that if the bacteria have not worn through the enamel yet, the tooth is able to repair itself (remineralization). This is helped by limiting the sugar and acid in your diet, removing the bacteria from your teeth by thoroughly brushing your teeth at least twice per day for at least 3 -5 minutes at a time, thoroughly flossing at least once per day, and using products that contain fluoride.

Cold sore – Also known as oral herpes or herpes labialis, cold sores affect over half of the US population. They can occur on the outside of your lips, on your gums or on the roof of your mouth. They are generally less painful than canker sores, but nonetheless annoying and unsightly. We can provide you with prescription medication to help minimize cold sore outbreaks. Cold sores are very contagious. To help avoid the spread of cold sores to our staff, please plan to reschedule your appointment if you have an active cold sore. If you are in doubt as to whether or not to reschedule, please call our clinic as soon as possible.

Complete dental exam – A comprehensive evaluation of your teeth and the surrounding tissues to help determine what dental procedures will be of the most benefit to you. To help ensure a thorough evaluation, we utilize state-of-the-art equipment such as digital radiographs (x-rays) and LED technology.

Complete Denture – When all of the teeth are missing either on top, bottom or both, a removable complete denture is used to restore function and esthetics to your mouth. We work hard to establish an intimate fit between the denture and your mouth. However, no denture is ever as effective as natural, healthy teeth. A popular alternative to traditional dentures is something called an overdenture, which uses dental implants to help stabilize the denture.

Cosmetic dentistry – Your smile is one of the most important features of your face. Cosmetic dentistry involves procedures such as teeth whitening and veneers, which can help your teeth appear more esthetic and give you more confidence in your smile.

Crown – When a tooth becomes weakened by cavities, nighttime grinding habits (bruxism), or other means, it is sometimes necessary to cover the tooth to strengthen it and restore it to its normal shape and size. A crown can be made of gold, porcelain or a combination of the two, and it completely surrounds the tooth to protect it from breaking or to restore a tooth that already has. Since a crown covers the top of your tooth, it is sometimes referred to as a “cap.”

Denture – There are several different types of dentures. Bridges are a type of denture that are bonded to the teeth and cannot be removed. However, when most people talk about dentures, they are referring to removable dentures. These can be either removable partial dentures (replacing some but not all teeth on the top and/or bottom) or complete dentures (replacing all of the teeth either on top, bottom or both).

Dry mouth – Saliva helps your body fight against the acid and bacteria that cause cavities. Many people who have a dry mouth drink soda and other sugary drinks to moisten their mouth. This combination of a constant supply of sugar and decreased body defense can result in lots of cavities developing in a short amount of time. Patients with dry mouth should drink lots of water, practice meticulous oral hygiene and consider using products with lots of fluoride in them. We can also recommend products to help increase salivary flow.

Dry socket – is a condition that may develop following an extraction, due to delayed healing in the area where the tooth used to reside (the socket). If we performed the extraction, we will provide you with post-operative instructions, including not smoking for at least one week, to minimize your risk of developing this condition. If you do develop dry socket, we typically will treat it by cleaning out the area and placing a medicated dressing into the socket.

Extraction – Sometimes teeth reach a point where they are causing problems and can no longer be saved. Other times, your dentist may notice a non-functional tooth that he or she anticipates will cause problems in the future, such as an impacted tooth (a tooth trapped beneath your gums). In either situation, the tooth must be removed by a dentist to establish a healthy environment in your mouth, free from infection, inflammation and pain.

Filling – A dental filling is used to repair worn or damaged teeth and cavities. Dental fillings are generally either tooth colored (composite) or silver colored (amalgam). Both options have certain benefits and drawbacks, and we can help you determine which will be best for you.

Fluoride – Fluoride is a natural mineral similar to calcium and phosphate (the minerals that your teeth are made of). When fluoride contacts your teeth by drinking fluoridated water, using fluoridated toothpaste, or having your hygienist perform a fluoride treatment, it is incorporated into your teeth. It has been proven by various studies that proper fluoride levels in your teeth help fight cavities. In fact, water fluoridation has had such a dramatic impact on lowering cavities in the communities where it is used that it was named by the Center for Disease Control as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century!

Gingivitis – This is inflammation of your gums (which are also known as your gingiva). It is typically caused by an irritant such as calculus that is in direct and constant contact with your gums. Gingivitis is considered the earliest stage of periodontal disease, which is known to increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and unhealthy pregnancies due to periodontal bacteria entering your bloodstream. If you have diabetes, you are also more likely to develop gingivitis, creating a destructive relationship between the two conditions.

Hygiene services – These include any procedure performed by your hygienist. Depending on your needs, these may include a prophylactic cleaning (basic teeth cleaning), scaling and root planning (deep teeth cleaning), fluoride treatment, sealants, or x-rays.

Implant – A dental implant is a titanium appliance that is surgically placed into your jaw bone. It fuses with your bone to create a secure and stable base for a crown, bridge or overdenture. Integration of the implant into your jaw provides a more natural feel than traditional forms of replacing missing teeth such as standard bridges or dentures.

Laser – In dentistry lasers can be used for a variety of procedures. At the Community Dental Clinic, we invested in a soft tissue diode laser because of its ability to shape your gums quickly, precisely and with minimal post-operative sensitivity compared to traditional methods. This provides you with better outcomes and greater comfort. Besides shaping your gums, we also use lasers to help treat periodontal disease, canker sores and various other maladies.

LED technology – LED stands for light-emitting diode, and LED technology has various applications. Traditionally, dentists have used sharp instruments called “explorers” to poke at teeth and attempt to find cavities. The problem was that occasionally things that felt like cavities turned out not to be, while other times real cavities were missed. Dental LED devices, such as the one used at the Community Dental Clinic, are used to detect cavities while they are still small and easier to treat. When used in combination with x-rays and other traditional techniques, we are able to avoid unnecessary dental work and also catch existing cavities while they are still small and easier to treat. This means you can spend less time and money at the dentist. We are also able to show you the cavity on flat-screen monitors that we have mounted in each room, so that you can actually see what needs to be done!

Overdenture – An overdenture is similar to a complete denture except that it fits over the top of a fixture to help retain the denture. Typically, this extra component is a dental implant, which is surgically placed and fixed into the bone. This extra step requires more time and is more expensive, but overall patient satisfaction is often greatly improved.

Periodontal disease – “Peri” means around and “dontal” refers to the teeth, so periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) literally is a disease of the tissues around your teeth. It results from calculus forming below your gums. This results in inflammation of the gums around your teeth (gingivitis) and eventually leads to bone loss and swelling of your gums. Normally, there is about 2-3 millimeters between the top of your gums and the top of your bone around teeth. However, when bone is lost and the gums swell, these pockets of tissue increase in size and make it impossible to clean that deep with just a toothbrush. If this disease is caught early enough, it can be treated by scaling and root planning at our dental clinic. If the disease is allowed to progress without treatment, eventually surgery or even extraction of the effected teeth may be necessary. As if that isn’t bad enough, periodontal disease also increases your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and unhealthy pregnancies due to periodontal bacteria entering your bloodstream! Your oral health really does affect your overall health.

Plaque – Dental plaque is a white film of bacteria that sticks to the surfaces of people’s teeth. It is very important that this film is removed with good brushing and flossing techniques every day. Our hygienists are always happy to work with our patients to help improve their techniques. If the plaque is not properly removed, it may result in cavities. Plaque that has been on a tooth or teeth for a long time may harden into a substance called calculus. Calculus will cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which is the early stage of periodontal disease.

Prophylactic cleaning – This is a basic cleaning and is the type of cleaning you are probably used to unless you have ever been diagnosed with periodontal disease.

Root canal – Also known as endodontic treatment, a root canal is performed when the nerve inside of your tooth becomes inflamed or dies. It is usually the result of trauma (an injury) to the tooth or a large cavity, and the tooth may or may not show symptoms such as pain and/or swelling. Root canals are generally performed in one or two appointments, and they allow us to save your tooth rather than having it extracted. Our dentists utilize the latest technology to perform this procedure as comfortably, effectively and quickly as possible. After a root canal, you may also need a crown to help strengthen the tooth, and we will discuss this with you beforehand.

Scaling and root planing – If you have lots of calculus, deep pockets around your teeth, or loss of bone around your teeth, you may require a deeper cleaning known as scaling and root planning and may be diagnosed with periodontal disease. Often times, patients who require this have very sensitive gums due to all of the inflammation and toxins around their teeth. We have invested in specialized equipment such as piezo ultrasonic cleaners and laser therapy devices to help improve the success of this procedure and get your mouth healthier, faster.

Sealant – If a tooth is at a high risk of developing a cavity, we will recommend that you have a sealant put on it. This is a simple, painless procedure and can be done in a matter of minutes. The tooth is first cleaned; it is then primed with a special material to help the sealant stick. Finally, the sealant is applied and a special light is used to harden the material. Over time, sealants can wear out or chip off and need to be replaced.

Veneer – Veneers are thin, custom-made shells designed to cover the front surface of a tooth. They are a minimally invasive way to fix teeth that are unsightly due to stains, gaps, cracks or other factors.

Whitening – There are various options for whitening teeth. At the Community Dental Clinic, we make custom trays to specifically fit your teeth. This means that the whitening product we use is held directly against your teeth and does not leak onto your gums or other areas of your mouth. The result is whiter teeth and less sensitivity or irritation. Studies have also shown that the products we use to whiten your teeth can help fight cavities and may help your composite (tooth colored) fillings last longer.

X-rays – Also known as radiographs, x-rays allow us to see parts of your teeth that are otherwise not visible during an exam, such as between your teeth and below your gums. X-rays also allow us to look inside your teeth to make sure that everything is healthy. At the Community Dental Clinic, we use only digital radiographs, which provide great benefits for our patients as well as reduced environmental waste.

66 Morrisville Plaza
Morrisville, Vermont

Hours of operation:
Monday – Friday: 7:00am – 5:00pm

802-888-7585    Fax: 802-851-8717

Jessica Allen, BA , Office Manager

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Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley (CHSLV) is funded in part through a grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration and generous community support. CHSLV is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233

This health center receives HHS funding and has Federal PHS deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals.

CHSLV is now Lamoille Health Partners

We have a new name, a new look – and a new website coming soon!

While our name is changing, our commitment to providing comprehensive, premier health services to all out neighbors in the Lamoille Valley is stronger than ever.