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More Dental Mysteries Solved

Dr Martin Abelar - December 15, 2020 - 0 comments

Life is full of mysteries.  UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle- who put the box of waffles away empty. But thankfully not all mysteries are unsolved, especially in dentistry. While there are terms and phrases you may have heard but never really understood, thankfully there are answers to some of your biggest dental questions.  Here are just a few fun facts you may have wondered about, but never really knew the answers to.


Feeling tongue-tied about what this term could mean? Don’t be. While the phrase tongue-tie has become synonymous with the inability to speak, it has a medical meaning as well. Tongue-tie is another way to describe the condition ankyloglossia. Ankyloglossia is a condition present at birth where the tongue’s tip is attached to the floor of the mouth via a thick strand of tissue known as the lingual frenulum. This tissue can be released by surgical cutting in a procedure called a frenotomy. Ankyloglossia is fairly common, affecting an estimated 10 percent of babies.


You may have heard Dr. Abelar or others use the terms tooth decay, cavities, or caries when discussing your teeth. But what are they, and how do they differ? Well, they’re all similar, but not all of them mean the same thing. Tooth decay, for example, is what causes cavities or caries in the teeth. Tooth decay is the softening of the tooth enamel that if left untreated can form into a cavity or pit in the tooth. When you have tooth decay, there is still a chance to prevent it from forming into a cavity, but once it becomes a cavity, it must be repaired by filling.

On the other hand, cavities and dental caries are the same things – the pit that forms in your teeth when your tooth decays.


When discussing gum diseases, there are many names you may have heard before, such as gum disease, periodontitis, and periodontal disease. You may have even heard the term gingivitis. But what do these terms all mean?  Well, believe it or not, they pretty much all mean the same thing. Periodontal disease is another way of saying gum disease, and periodontitis is the technical term for advanced gum disease. Gingivitis is a form of gum disease where the gums bleed and become red and inflamed but usually requires less intervention to correct. Gingivitis is also more common than periodontal disease. In fact, more than half the adult population has gingivitis, while that number is slightly less for periodontitis.


If you’ve never used nitrous oxide or ‘laughing gas’ during a procedure, you may be wondering if it really does live up to its name and make you laugh uncontrollably. After all, that would make getting your teeth worked on kind of challenging for your dentist. Thankfully, laughing gas doesn’t really make you laugh- it just creates a feeling of relaxation and calm to help ease any fears you may have during your procedure.  While some may laugh more easily on nitrous oxide, your dose is administered safely and your dentist exercises extreme caution in how much nitrous oxide is delivered so you are always in control of your behavior.

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