Have you sat in the chair at your dentist in the past and wondered what is being said about your teeth? There are plenty of dental terms that are used to officially describe your teeth. Know the following terms to better understand how your checkup is going.
Facial and Lingual Surfaces
The outward-facing surface that people see when you smile is known as the facial surface. This term applies to both the top and bottom rows of teeth. The lingual surfaces are those rear-facing surfaces that are closest to your tongue. While you may think it's easier to refer to them as the front and back sides of your teeth, the technical names are used to avoid any confusion.
Medial and Distal Surfaces
If you were to describe which parts of a tooth you are feeling discomfort on, you may think that it is easy to just describe it as the left or right side. However, that can be quite confusing, because left and right is a matter of perspective. Your left side would look like the right side from your dentist looking at your straight on.
The best way to describe the proper side of a tooth is to draw an imaginary line down the center of your mouth, between your two front teeth. The surfaces of your teeth that face towards this line, or towards the front of your mouth, are called the mesial surface. The surfaces that face away from the line are known as the distal surfaces. Of course, this is the surface that is between your tooth where you typically floss, not to be confused with the top portion of a tooth.
Root and Occlusal Surfaces
The part of the tooth that you use for chewing is not known as the chewing surface of your tooth. The technical name is known as the occlusal surface. The opposite side of the tooth that is found underneath the gums is known as the roots, but it is a pretty simple name that you are likely familiar with.
By knowing all of these technical terms, you'll be able to better understand what your dentist is saying to the hygienist during an exam. For example, if you hear that there is decay on the lingual surface of your wisdom tooth, you'll know that the dentist is talking about the rear part of the tooth that faces your tongue.
Ask the dentist if you have any questions about the terms they are using during an examination.