Oral Health Guide: Glossary


The level of acid found in substances, such as food and drink. This is most often expressed in terms of pH. When a value falls below a pH of 7, it is known to be acidic.


Holes that are found in teeth, typically caused by tooth decay.


Commonly referred to as the ‘stress hormone.’ The secretion of this steroid is activated by stress.


The thin outer layer of teeth, being the hardest tissue found within the human body. This semi-translucent tissue also contains the highest percentage of minerals. It helps to protect your teeth from everyday wear and tear, as well as temperature.

Extrinsic Sugars

These sugars are free in food (as apposed to being in the cellular structure), or added to food items. These sugars can also be naturally occurring, as seen within honey and milk. With the exception of milk and milk products, these sugars are the main contributors regarding tooth decay.


Also known as ‘enrichment,’ fortifying foods is the process of adding nutrients to food. Trace vitamins and elements are added to enhance the overall health benefits of that food item.

Gum Disease

Being on of the most common dental issues today, gum disease occurs at any age. This is typically seen in two stages: gingivitis, then periodontists. Basically, gum disease affects the attachment between one’s gums and teeth.


This is an immune response, as the body attempts to protect your overall health. It is typically a localized condition, where a part of the body becomes swollen, red, hot, and even painful. While focusing on oral health, bacteria can create inflamed gums. This is what often leads to gingivitis and other oral complications.

Intrinsic Sugars

Intrinsic sugars are those that are found naturally within food, more specially within the cellular structure. These sugars are most commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Although these sugars can still create demineralization, they are not generally as harmful as extrinsic sugars.

Periodontal Disease

When the gums become inflamed, this is known gingivitis. However, when the bone that is below the gums becomes infected or inflamed, it’s known as periodontal disease. This is directly associated with tooth loss.


This is a sticky deposit, which develops naturally on teeth. It is formed by bacteria that attach to the surface of one’s teeth. If left untreated, plaque often turns into tartar (hardened plaque) or gum disease.

Refined Sugar

Sugar that is processed, removing the natural molasses from raw sugar. Excessive consumption of these sugars can lead to tooth decay, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.


Sucrose is a refined sugar, which is made from a mixture of two simple sugars: fructose and glucose. Sucrose is commonly recognized as table sugar.

Tooth Decay

When oral plaque and sugars are combined, they react to produce acid. When you do not properly care for your teeth, enamel begins to breakdown. Over time, individuals can experience decay and holes in their teeth (known as cavities).


Any organic compound that is essential for growth and nutritional purposes. Although some vitamins are synthesized in the body, most are consumed through the foods in our diet.

Whole Foods

These are food items that are typically unrefined and have been minimally processed. As they are free from additives and artificial ingredients, they tend to yield higher nutritional benefits.

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