You might think that a dentist-patient conversation doesn’t require much talking. I mean, you’re working on their teeth and in their mouth!
How much small talk in Spanish do you actually need to facilitate a routine check-up?
Well, it’s not the chit-chat that’s the main concern—it’s the set of unique terms and phrases that you wouldn’t normally use in an everyday setting.
That’s why it’s so common to study a foreign language with intent.
Back when I worked at a Spanish language school, we offered entire classes dedicated solely to Spanish for doctors and Spanish for dentists because these professions demand such a specific Spanish skill set.
Here’s a round-up of everything a dentist may need to say in Spanish— from key vocabulary to commands.
The Top Spanish Resources for Dental Professionals
While I’m about to share with you a list of essential vocabulary and phrases, it’s super useful to have some great resources on hand to fill in the gaps and help you practice and prepare for your first Spanish-speaking patients.
- FluentU has put together the most authentic Spanish content to help you learn and practice key dental-related vocabulary and phrases.
Take this hilarious video for example. Once you’ve created an account with FluentU, this video will include English and Spanish subtitles. There’s also an option to sign-up for a free trial—so you’ve got nothing to lose!
- Aetna offers a quick and easy guide for discussing dental plans with a patient.
- Oral B and Crest have created a pocket-sized handbook available for download to help you communicate with your Spanish-speaking patients. It includes extensive vocabulary, orthodontic phrases and things patients may say to you during a visit.
- Delta Dental has provided a simple yet useful English to Spanish resource that you can print out for quick reference. It also comes with a pronunciation guide.
Open Wide! Spanish for Dentists and Dental Hygienists
Essential Mouth-related Vocabulary
While hand gestures and a real-life game of charades can certainly go a long way, knowing the following mouth-related words will take you even further!
la boca — mouth
los dientes — teeth
los dientes frontales — front teeth
las muelas — back teeth
la lengua — tongue
los labios — lips
las encías — gums
las amígdalas — tonsils
el paladar — the roof of the mouth
los correctores — braces
una corona — a crown
un empaste — a filling
la endodoncia — root canal treatment
la caries — cavity
el consultorio dental — the dental office
la sala de espera — the waiting room
la silla dental — the dental chair
el higienista/la higienista — the hygienist
el dentista/la dentista — the dentist
I know you may be thinking—shouldn’t a male dentist be el dentisto?
In this case, the word for dentist is just dentista and we refer to a male dentist as el dentista and a female dentist as la dentista. It’s as simple as that!
Spanish Vocabulary for Dental Tools and Equipment
Where would you be without your tools?
la escupidera — cuspidor
el succionador — suction
el espejo — mirror
el espejo intraoral — mouth mirror
los apliques dentales — dental handpieces
las sondas — probes
los raspadores — scalers
la jeringa — syringe
la gasa — gauze
los guantes — gloves
los rayos X — x-rays
What to Say to Your Patient During a Check-up
A routine check-up and cleaning should be a breeze, but there are a few phrases you may want to master to help you better connect with your Spanish-speaking patients.
If you’re brand new to Spanish, you may want to dive a bit deeper and learn more about how to properly give commands in Spanish.
Le voy a limpiar sus dientes. — I am going to clean your teeth.
Ahora, voy a pulir los dientes. — Now, I’ll polish your teeth.
Cierre la boca un poco. — Close your mouth a little.
Muerda despacio. — Bite slowly.
Muerda otra vez. — Bite again.
Escupa, por favor. — Spit out, please.
Coloque su lengua contra el paladar. — Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
How to Respond to an Emergency Patient
As you know, emergency care is just part of the deal. Here are some useful phrases to help you navigate an emergency visit in Spanish.
¿A qué vino hoy? — What brought you here today?
¿Le duele? — Does it hurt?
Déjeme echar un vistazo a ver cuál es el problema. — Let me take a look and see what the problem is.
No se preocupe, le voy a ayudar. — Don’t worry, I am going to help you.
¿Le duele cuando muerde? — Does it hurt when you bite?
¿Alguna vez ha tenido una reacción alérgica a la anestesia? — Have you ever had an allergic reaction to anesthesia?
¿En caso de emergencia, a quien contactamos? — In case of an emergency, who should we contact?
Phrases to Use with a First-time Patient
It’s important to obtain some general information from your new patients regarding their oral health and personal concerns. Here’s how you can start getting to know your Spanish-speaking patients.
Hola, soy el/la doctoro/doctora ________, y hoy le atenderé. — Hello, my name is Doctor ________, and I’ll be taking care of you today.
¿Tiene alguna duda específica? — Do you have any specific concerns?
¿Qué tan seguido se cepilla los dientes? — How often do you brush your teeth?
¿Le sangran las encías? — Do your gums bleed?
¿Usa hilo dental? — Do you use dental floss?
¿Es alérgico/alérgica a algún medicamento? — Are you allergic to any medicines?
¿Tiene sensibilidad cuando come cosas frías/calientes? — Do you have any sensitivity to cold/hot things?
Tenemos que sacarle unos rayos X. — We need to take x-rays.
La máquina rotará a su alrededor. — The machine will rotate around you.
Phrases to Use with a Young Patient
As these patients are younger than you, we recommend using the more informal tú instead of the formal usted to address them. Although, navigating tú and usted deserve its own lesson!
Tienes dientes maravillosos. — You have wonderful teeth.
Cierra los ojos y mueve los dedos de los pies. — Close your eyes and wiggle your toes.
Lo estás haciendo bien hasta ahora. — You’re doing great so far.
Di “AHH” — Say “AHH”
¿Te duele esto? — Does this hurt?
Haz así. — Do this.
Relájate. — Relax.
How to Wrap Up and End an Appointment
Let your patients know what to expect post-appointment.
Le puede doler por un tiempo. — It might be sore for a while.
No coma ni beba por 30 minutos. — Don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes.
Llámeme si no mejora. — Call me if it doesn’t get better.
¿Tiene seguro dental? — Do you have dental insurance?
Tendrá que hacer otra cita para regresar. — You’ll need to come back for another appointment.
Asegúrese de cepillarse los dientes dos veces al día. — Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day.
Gracias por venir. ¡Hasta la próxima! — Thank you for coming in. Until next time!
With all these Spanish for dentists resources, essential vocabulary and useful phrases, you’ll make your patients smile for more than one reason!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.