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Dentistry Insurance Terms

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Common Dentistry Insurance Terms Defined

Because the dental terminology found in medical insurance plans is often obscure, the glossary below was created to help applicants better comprehend terms associated with oral care and their use in dental insurance policies.

    • Basic procedures: Primary dental care treatments for routine maintenance e.g. examinations, cleanings, X-rays, fillings, extractions, root canals, and most standard oral surgeries.
    • Bleaching: The process of brightening and whitening stained teeth.
    • Bridge: A prosthetic device placed inside the mouth to replace a series of missing teeth.
    • Cavity: A hollow, pitted spot on a tooth caused by decay.
    • Cleaning: A fundamental element of oral hygiene, consisting of the removal of harmful plaque from the teeth at the gum line to prevent the development of cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease.
    • Crown: A tooth “cap” made of porcelain, plastic or metal that partially or fully covers a problematic tooth in order to restore its cosmetic appearance and functionality.
    • Dental braces: Orthodontic apparatus fastened to the top or bottom row of teeth (or both) to fix an uneven bite alignment and/or straighten the teeth.
    • Dental implant: An artificial tooth which is anchored surgically to the jawbone or gums to replace a single missing tooth.
    • Denture: A removable prosthetic device designed to replace a partial or full row of missing teeth.
    • Endodontic services: Any oral procedures performed to treat disease or damage of the dental pulp (nerves).
    • Examination: A routine checkup and analysis of the teeth and gums.
    • Extraction: The removal of a problematic tooth.
    • Fillings and inlays: A synthetic material cemented to the cavity of a tooth, after  removal of all carious matter, in order to restore it.
    • General anesthetic: A drug administered to patients undergoing complex dental surgery, the effects of which cause overall numbness and temporary unconsciousness.
    • Impaction: A tooth that develops abnormally or becomes lodged either beneath another tooth or a section of jawbone.
    • Local anesthetic: A drug administered to a patient to numb or “freeze” a specific area in order to block any sensation or pain.
    • Major procedures: Extended dental care treatments that are typically less common and involve intricate measures, such as a bridge, crown, or denture work.
    • Oral surgery: Any surgery executed inside the mouth, particularly around the teeth and gums for preventative or restorative purposes.
    • Orthodontics: The field of dental care that involves proper tooth alignment with relation to the jaws. See also “dental braces”.
    • Periodontics: The field of dental care that concerns both the gums and the underlying bone.
    • Pit and fissure sealant: A synthetic resin applied to the vulnerable surfaces of the teeth to seal hollows or crevices, protecting them against plaque, bacteria and food particle build-up.
    • Polish: An oral procedure used to level the surface of a tooth while giving it a shiny finish.
    • Prosthesis: An artificial tooth or other oral device used to replace its natural counterpart.
    • Prosthodontics: Any of the dental procedures that concern prosthetic tooth replacement by way of implants, bridges or dentures.
    • Restoration: Any dental process adopted to bring back a tooth or series of teeth to their original appearance and functionality, such as a filling, bridge or crown.
    • Root canal: A dental procedure whereby decayed tissue is removed from a tooth’s nerve and blood vessel canal; subsequently, the hollowed tooth is filled with a synthetic material.
    • Scaling: The removal of tartar deposits beneath the gum line using a dental scraper in order to prevent gum inflammation and gingivitis.
    • Space maintainer: An oral device fixed to a gap in a row of teeth in order to preserve the space created by the premature loss of one or several teeth.
    • Veneer: A synthetic layer of material (usually porcelain or ceramic) that adheres permanently to the surface of a damaged tooth to restore its cosmetic appearance.
    • X-ray (or radiograph): A photo or image developed on radiosensitive film that is used to diagnose the internal structure of the oral cavity.