Dental Terms

Dentists are the principal providers of oral disease prevention and treatment. Their role is changing in response to emerging risk factors, evolving disease burdens, demographic changes, and broader health system and socioeconomic pressures[1].

Dental caries is the scientific term for tooth decay or cavities, which is the destruction of the tooth enamel, or the outer layer of the tooth[2].

Edentulism, or toothlessness, means partial or complete tooth loss.

Free sugars are added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Gingivitis is early inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.

The larynx is the upper part of the trachea which contains the vocal cords. Oral cancer can affect the larynx as well as the rest of the oral cavity.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors[3]. NCDs are not contagious. NCDs – mainly cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes – are the most common cause of death and disability worldwide, accounting for 70% of all deaths annually[4].

The oesophagus is the muscular tube that brings food from the mouth to the stomach. It passes from the pharynx down the neck between the trachea and the spinal column. Oral cancer can affect the oesophagus as well as the rest of the oral cavity.

Periodontitis is serious inflammation of the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place. Also known as periodontal (gum) disease, periodontitis can result in tooth loss and negatively impact overall health.

The pharynx is the muscular tubular passage of the vertebrate digestive and respiratory tracts extending from the back of the nasal cavity and mouth to the oesophagus. Oral cancer can affect the pharynx as well as the rest of the oral cavity.

Sugars include intrinsic sugars incorporated within the structure of intact fruit and vegetables, and sugars from milk (lactose)

Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth, which protects the teeth from tooth decay[5]. Xylitol is found in many brands of sugar-free gum. Chewing gum with xylitol for 20 minutes following meals can help to manage tooth decay.


[1] FDI Oral Health Atlas

[2] ADA

[3] WHO

[4] NCD Alliance

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