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Dental Dictionary

The ABCs of restoring teeth

When it comes to fixing teeth, there’s a bewildering collection of choices and techniques. Here’s an index of terms to help you understand what your dentist is talking about.

Restoration: Dental lingo for any material or device that replaces lost tooth structure and restores function. This includes fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, etc.

Filling: A filling is a restoration that repairs part of a tooth. This includes amalgams, composites, inlays, onlays, and temporary fillings.


Crown: A restoration that restores the tooth crown. That’s the part of the tooth above the gum line.

Bridge: A restoration that replaces one or more teeth. Bridges cannot be removed.

Appliance: Dental office talk for restorations you can remove.

Denture: An appliance that replaces teeth. They are called “full dentures” when they replace all the upper or lower, and “partial” when they replace one or more teeth.

Cavity: You might think it means decay. In fact, it refers to what is left after the decay is removed. Basically – it’s the hole. Removing decay and enlarging the cavity are part of preparing a tooth for a filling.

Taking an impression: Dentists take an impression to create a plaster or dental stone model of a tooth or part of your jaw. The model can be used to make bridges, dentures, inlays, onlays and study models used for treatment diagnosis.

Dentists use all kinds of terms when they are trying to explain a procedure. If you hear one you don’t understand, ask for an explanation.

Meet Dr. Hetal Patel



After earning his doctorate and practicing in India for several years, Dr. Patel came to the United States and earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from UIC in 2007. Because he has a true desire to help everyone feel more confident in their appearance, Dr. Patel devotes much of his free time to advancing his skills through continuing education. Bringing you the most convenient and comfortable options for your care is his priority.

Practice Philosophy

Choosing dentistry as a career was an easy choice for Dr. Patel. He has always excelled at math and science, and helping people achieve the optimal oral health that supports your whole health is his way of making the world a better place – one person at a time. With a gentle demeanor and an infectious smile, Dr. Patel can help you feel secure and relaxed – and you may find yourself laughing at a joke or two that he always has at the ready.

Personal Time

Dr. Patel and his wife Komal have three very active children who keep them busy, but when he has time, he loves to play golf. Traveling with his family is another joy and his favorite destination to date is the beautiful rolling landscapes of Scotland. An active community member, Dr. Patel can often be found volunteering at local health fairs or donating his services to the underserved as a dentist in Lisle, IL. Each November he holds a special day to provide our veterans with much-needed dental care.