The PoDCAST Series ARTICLES
Learn English 114 Article
Best Checklist For English Spoken At The Dentist
This is the supporting article for podcast 114 of the Adept English Monday English language listening lessons.
So this week a request from Cosmina, who works in an orthodontic practice and wanted me to do a podcast about dentists.
Hi there I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This is our Monday podcast, which is slightly longer than our Thursday podcast. But both podcasts aim to help you with your English language learning. If you’re new to us – and even if you’re not – check out our website at adeptenglish.com. If you want to grow your English vocabulary and improve your English conversation, there are courses for you and lots more besides, available on the website.
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The English are famous for bad teeth!
So this week a request from Cosmina, who works in an orthodontic practice and wanted me to do a podcast about dentists. I’m always open to ideas for podcasts – and it’s up to you to tell me what’s useful!
So here goes – vocabulary to do with the dentist. I think that dentist is the same word in many languages, but just in case it isn’t the same in your language, I’ll give you an explanation. A dentist is a person, a man or a woman, who is like a doctor, but for your teeth. And your teeth are the white things in your mouth that you use to eat with – and to speak with. So this word teeth is unusual in English, because the plural form when there’s more than one, the plural form is different. So you would say ‘one tooth’, but ‘many teeth’. It’s a bit like the word for foot in English, I guess. ‘One foot, two feet’. Now Cosmina works in an orthodontic practice. And an orthodontist is a type of dentist who is a specialist, an expert in teeth that are in the wrong position, teeth that aren’t straight, aren’t in the right place. So Orthodontics is a specialism within dentistry.
We all try to avoid bad breath for the dentist, don't we?
So if you are going to the dentist, you would probably brush your teeth or clean your teeth with a toothbrush before you went. It may make it a bit nicer for your dentist if you do that. So in the UK, you go to the dentist every six months and have what is known as a check-up or a dental check. This is just a 5 minutes in the dentist’s chair, and the dentist will examine your teeth and check if anything needs attention. One of the things they always ask ‘Do you floss?’ So the verb ‘to floss’ refers to cleaning the tiny gaps, the spaces between your teeth. And the stuff you use to do this with is also called ‘floss’ or ‘dental floss’ - so that’s a noun. It’s a bit like a thread or piece of cotton that you pass it between your teeth, to clean out any bits. So a very common question at the dentist ‘Do you floss?’ And hopefully you do or you might get a bit told off!
Sometimes the dentist might say to you ‘We need to do an X ray’. This means that they get to see what’s going on underneath your teeth. Underneath, inside your gums. So here’s another word, another bit of vocabulary. Gums are the hard, pink bit of your mouth that your teeth grow out of. ‘Gums’ is G-U-M-S. So you have a top gum and a bottom gum. So you can use it in the singular as well. So you may have an X ray as part of your dental check-up.
If you've been good this next part is unlikely to happen
So hopefully you have your check-up at the dentist and all is well. But sometimes the dentist may tell you there’s a problem. Tooth decay is one problem that you might have. This means that there’s a black bit on your tooth and it will need attention or it will get worse. Decay is sometimes the word used and it means that the tooth is going bad. You can also use the word decay for anything that ‘goes bad’. So if you think about what happens on a rubbish tip, there’s lots of decay. Other ways of saying you have a bad tooth – you can say you have a cavity in your tooth. A cavity just means a hole. You also might also hear ‘caries’ - C-A-R-I-E-S. And dental caries just again means holes in your teeth.
You might be at the dentist because you have toothache. This is what we say when a tooth is giving you pain. Ache A-C-H-E is a very useful word in English. Lots of parts of the body ‘ache’. So you can have stomach ache, headache, toothache. So if you’ve got toothache, you already know that something is wrong! This may well be the reason that you’ve gone to the dentist.
If you have a cavity, if you have tooth decay, then probably what you’ll need is a filling. And a filling is when the dentist drills out the bad part of your tooth and replaces it with some other material. ‘To drill’ is the verb – and it’s that horrible noise at the dentist. This is the bit that most people hate! It sounds a bit like this…………! [Ooh, that’s not nice!] You can also drill a hole in the road – in fact anything that’s hard and you want to make a hole in it, you can use a drill. So ‘to drill’ is the verb and the tool itself is called ‘a drill’.
I need drugs, and lots of them! before I get into a dentists chair!
Now unless you’re exceedingly brave, then before the dentist does any drilling, then you need to have some anaesthetic. Anaesthetic is the word for any substance which makes you feel numb, stops you from feeling anything. So at the dentist when you’re having a filling, there will be an injection of anesthetic. This makes your face and your gums numb. And it means that the dentist can get on with their work, without you jumping around because it hurts! And the material that makes the dental filling is called amalgam. Often it contains metal, and is silver in colour, but you can also have white fillings, which look much better.
If the decay in your tooth is really bad, the dentist may say to you that the tooth cannot be saved. In which case, you’ll need to have the tooth taken out. And sometimes we might say ‘I’ve had a tooth out’. This has never happened to me, but my daughters have both had teeth out, in order to have a brace. This is what you use, if you want to straighten teeth and there isn’t room in your mouth for all of them. So if you have a tooth taken out, the proper term which dentists use is ‘an extraction’, E-X-T-R-A-C-T-I-O-N. So again this is another word which forms both a noun and a verb. So ‘to extract’ and ‘an extraction’. The dentist might extract your tooth and this would mean that you had had an extraction.
So the most common English vocabulary used at the dentist...
So let’s just summarise the less well known words here:-
An orthodontist or orthodontics – an orthodontist is the dentist and orthodontics is the specialism within dentristy
You can floss your teeth, brush your teeth or clean your teeth
You have gums in your mouth, which your teeth grow out of
And if you’ve got problems, it’s usually tooth decay or cavities
And you can have a filling with amalgam or white filling
And for this you might have anesthetic
Or you can have a tooth taken out or extracted
I hope that helps you with words for dentists and dentistry. Hope you next dental check-up is clear and you don’t have to have any fillings or extractions or any …………… noises like that!