VOCABULARY at the DENTIST: Taking Care of Your Teeth in ITALIAN

Some experiences are universal, they go way beyond language and culture… and toothache is an example of this, no doubt! It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the dentist for a simple routine appointment or to undergo a little dental surgery – either way, you will use or hear (and understand) countless expressions and a wide repertoire of very specific words: how do you talk about that toothache? How would you cure it? And what are the names of the main oral hygiene tools? You’ll find out in this article!


In this article we will come with you to your dentist appointment, starting from the scheduling to the dental care and prevention…all of this in Italian, obviously!


The first thing you do when you have a toothache is calling the dentist’s office (studio del dentista), stating the problem. A reason why you would have to call your dentist, for instance, is if you think you have a…

“UNA CARIE” (a cavity, tooth decay)

In Italian, the dental disease characterized by destruction of the enamel (smalto) -one of the four major tissues that make up the tooth that usually makes up the visible part of the tooth- is called carie. To talk about this problem with your dentist, you might say: “Ho una carie” (I have a cavity), “Mi si è formata una carie” (I have developed a cavity) or “Mi si è cariato un dente” (One of my teeth has decayed).

-Studio dentistico LearnAmo. Mi dica, come posso aiutarla? (LearnAmo dental office. How may I help you?)

+Sì, salve. Vorrei prenotare un appuntamento con la dottoressa Filomeno. (Hello. I would like to schedule an appointment with Doctor Filomeno.)

-La ragione? (What is the reason?)

+Una carie. (A cavity)

-D’accordo. Che ne dice di venerdì alle 10? (Alright. How about Friday morning at 10 A.M. ?)

+Perfetto! La ringrazio. (It’s perfect! Thanks!)

-Grazie a lei! Buona giornata! (Thank you! Have a good day!)

Once you book your appointment, you just have to wait for the day of your appointment. When you get to the office, the doctor might be busy with another patient. In this case you will be asked to wait (attendere) in a room called…

“SALA D’ATTESA” (waiting room)

The waiting room is the place where patients wait when they are at a hospital or at the doctor’s office, and any place where they may be anxious, emotional, etc. Unlike the lounge room (sala d’aspetto), a more informal room where people do wait, but it’s usually within a station or office.

You got a shooting pain but remember that it’s just a matter of minutes before you’ll be asked to enter the dentist’s office and meet your dentist. All you have to do is say how long you’ve had this toothache, how you noticed but, above all, where it hurts exactly!

“ACCUSARE DOLORE” (feel the pain)

Accusare dolore, in a medical context, means “experiencing pain”. So, it’s just a more formal way of saying “feeling pain”.

“MASTICARE” (chew)

The verb masticare is used to indicate the action of biting your food before you swallow it.

“MOLARE” (molar)

Molare” is the name of the 12 teeth at the back of the mouth. Going in order from the furthest from to the closest to the front, we have molars, then premolari (premolars), canini (canines) and incisivi (incisors).

-Buongiorno! Dunque… Lei è qui per una carie, giusto? (Good morning! So…you’re here because you have a cavity, right?)

+Buongiorno, dottoressa. Sì esatto. Vorrei curarla prima che peggiori. (Good morning, doctor. Yes, exactly. I want to cure it before it gets worse.)

-Controlliamo subito. Come se n’è accorta? (Let’s check it right away. How did you notice it?)

+Da qualche giorno ho iniziato ad accusare dolore mentre masticavo dalla parte sinistra, proprio qui, sul molare in basso. (In the last few days I have started to feel some pain while chewing…on the left side, right here, in my lower molar.)

After you talk about the problem itself, the doctor might ask you some questions about other symptoms before she can confirm (or deny) what is causing your pain. One of the symptoms might be…

“L’ALITO CATTIVO” (bad breath)

When we talk about alito cattivo (or alitosi, halitosis), what we mean is the condition in which the air coming out of your mouth has a persistent and unpleasant smell, which can be freshen temporarily thanks to mints (mentine) and chewing gums (gomme da masticare).

-Eh sì… Temo si tratti di carie. Ha avvertito qualche altro sintomo? (Mhh…yes, I’m afraid it is a cavity. Have you noticed any other symptom?)

+Sinceramente, un po’ di alito cattivo (Honestly, yes…some bad breath…)

The root of the problem has been found so the doctor will proceed with solution. In the majority of cases, doctors will ensure that the patient feels no pain, so do not worry…the area will get desensitized thanks to…

“L’ANESTESIA” (anesthesia)

Anestesia is the artificially induced insensibility to pain; it can be either partial (anestesia locale, local anesthesia) or total (anestesia totale, general anesthesia). When it comes to removing teeth, most of the times dentists will resort to local anesthesia.

If you have a cavity, your dentist will remove it and then she will proceed with…

L’OTTURAZIONE (dental filling, or dental restoration)

Dental fillings are the main treatment for caries because they seal the part of the tooth where the cavity once was – fillings are necessary because once cavities are removed, there is a void left that has to be filled in.

-Eh sì… Non ci sono dubbi: si tratta di una carie. Ora le faccio l’anestesia per procedere con l’otturazione. Apra bene la bocca. Dica “Aaaah”! (I have no doubts…it is a cavity. I’ll administer you some anesthesia before I go ahead and do the dental filling. Say “Aaaaah”!)


Problem solved…finally! When the anesthesia wears off, you might feel some pain, so the dentist will write you a prescription for…

“L’IBUPROFENE” (Ibuprofen)

Ibuprofene is an anti-inflammatory drug which means that its goal is to treat or prevent the inflammatory process.

-Ecco fatto. Abbiamo finito! Quando l’effetto dell’anestesia passerà, può prendere dell’ibuprofene se sente ancora dolore. (There you go…we’re done! When the effect of anesthesia wears off, you can take some ibuprofen if you still feel the pain.)


Alas, cavities are not the only issue you might have with your teeth…quite the contrary! If you are older than 18 but younger than 30, it is likely that you feel some pain from time to time – a pain in your gums (gengiva), as if there was another tooth (or four!) growing. Well, it is possible that you are experiencing all this pain due to…

I DENTI DEL GIUDIZIO (wisdom teeth)

I denti del giudizio (wisdom teeth, plural of IL DENTE del giudizio) are the third and last molars in our mouths. It is common that they find it hard to emerge and grow correctly, so dentists often resort to rimozione, meaning that they get pulled out.

+Salve dottoressa! Ci rivediamo! (Hello, doctor! We meet again!)

-Buongiorno! Che succede? Ancora problemi con le carie? Le ho sempre detto che deve andarci piano con i dolci! (Good morning! What’s wrong? Still having troubles with cavities? I have always told you to go easy on sweets!)

+No no, le giuro che ne sto mangiando pochissimi! Ma ora il problema è con il dente del giudizio. Mi sta dando davvero troppo fastidio! (No…No, I swear I’ve been eating very few sweets lately! My issue now is my wisdom tooth. It’s bothering me so much!)

-Mh… Temo che dovremo rimuoverlo allora. Do un’occhiata. (I’m afraid I will have to remove it then. Let’s take a look. )


-Eh sì… Procediamo con la rimozione! (Yes, we are are going to proceed with the removal!)

The extraction procedure is finished and, as it always happens after a dentist appointment, you will be asked to take a little plastic cup where your dentist (or an assistant) has poured some colored liquid. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s just something we call…

“IL COLLUTTORIO” (mouthwash)

Collutorio” is the name of the liquid used to rinse and sanitize the mouth. It’s usually held in the mouth passively before being spit – if you swilled it around the mouth (especially the back) while your head is tilted, you are doing a gargarismo (gargling), a specific way of rinsing.

-Abbiamo finito! Beva questo collutorio e risciacqui la bocca. Faccia dei gargarismi! (We’re done! Drink this mouthwash and rinse your mouth. Gargle!)

Are you done gargling? Great, because the dentist is about to give you some instructions on what to do in the days following the extraction, giving you some tips.

-Può sputare ora. Le gengive le faranno male ancora per un paio di giorni. Se il dolore è insopportabile, prenda un antinfiammatorio. Le consiglio di mangiare per qualche giorno cibi liquidi, brodi e frullati.

(You can spit it out now. Your gums will hurt for a couple of days more. If the pain gets unbearable, take an anti-inflammatory drug. I suggest you only eat liquid foods, mostly soups and smoothies.)

Your appointment does not end here, though: while she was busy removing your wisdom tooth, your dentist noticed another problem! Apparently, you have some…

“TARTARO” (tartar, or dental calculus)

Tartaro” is a deposit that forms on teeth and stains them; it mainly consists of calcium and mineral salts deposited between and within remnants of formerly viable microorganisms (bacteria).

Do not worry: there’s a solution to every problem. In such instances, you will be told to come back to the dentist’s office to remove it; moreover, you dentist will give you some great tips on how to take care of your teeth.

-…Inoltre, ho notato del tartaro sui suoi denti. Dovremo rivederci tra qualche settimana per una pulizia dei denti. (…I have also noticed some tartar on your teeth. We have to meet again in a few weeks for a teeth cleaning.)

+Certo certo! Nel frattempo, cosa mi consiglia di fare? (Sure, sure…is there anything I can do in the meanwhile?)

-Spazzoli bene i denti con lo spazzolino e usi un dentifricio sbiancante. Ah, e non dimentichi il filo interdentale due volte al giorno! (Use your toothbrush to brush your teeth very well and always use a whitening toothpaste. Ah, and do not forget to floss twice a day!)

+Grazie, buona giornata! (Thank you, have a nice day!)

-A Lei! (Same to you!)

SPAZZOLINO (toothbrush), DENTIFRICIO (toothpaste) and FILO INTERDENTALE (dental floss)

Coupled with mouthwash, these are the pillars of oral hygiene:

  • SPAZZOLINO (toothbrush) is the tool that enables you to remove impurities;
  • DENTIFRICIO (toothpaste) is the product that cleans and maintains the health of teeth and mouth;
  • FILO INTERDENTALE (dental floss) is a cord of thin filaments that is used to remove food and dental plaque from between (inter-, in latin, means “in between”) teeth.

Do you like these contextualized lessons? Then you should definitely watch our Italian lesson set in an airport!

And do not forget to subscribe to Italiano in Contesto using our coupon code CARIE: you will only pay 69€ and you will learn Italian as if you were here in Italy thanks to our Metodo Contestuale! Italiano in Contesto offers contextualized video lessons with transcriptions and exercises to improve your Italian in just a few weeks!

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