The sound and appearance of dental instruments seem downright frightening. When you walk into your dentist’s office, the noise of a drill or a device’s sharp hook might send chills down your spine. It can even cause some of you to fear the dentist, making for an unpleasant trip each time you go. 

However, there are ways to try to remedy the situation. If you try knowing what each tool does, you may be less anxious whenever your dentist goes near your mouth. If you recognize the basic dental instruments kept on your dentist’s tray – it will let you appreciate how they aid in your teeth and gum issues. 

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Do you need a quick refresher on your dental instruments? Here is an overview of some of the most commonly used dental instruments. This brief guide will help you understand basic dental equipment. This knowledge will assist in calming your nerves and putting your mind at ease.

Purpose of Dental Instruments

The commonly found dental instruments are designed such that your dentist and staff will use them during dental care. These instruments aid in the assessment and treatment of your dental disease. Each one of them is designed for a specific purpose.

Many different dental instruments are used by oral health care professionals or dentists in their different roles and specialties. Certain types of instruments are unique to various therapeutic procedures.

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It is no surprise that dentists and other dental specialists use so many dental instruments and machines that serve different procedures and treatments. If you frequently visit your dentists for your scheduled appointments, you might easily spot some of the most commonly used tools they have on their dental tray. But because we do not get to see how they use them, we are more curious about what they call these instruments and how they use them? 

What Are The Different Dental Instruments?

1. Mouth Mirror

It is probably the least scary of all the dental instruments, but it is the most important of the set. The mouth mirror is a small mirror attached to a metal stick. The purpose of this instrument is two-fold. 

Using the mouth mirror, your dentist can view places in the mouth that ordinarily would take an effort to see inside the mouth. This dental instrument makes it easier to find tooth decay or other potential oral problems inside your mouth. Without the tools, it would otherwise go undetected.

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Secondly, the mouth mirror will give your dentist an easy way to move your tongue or push the inside of your cheek without doing so with your hands.

So it is a device your dentist will use to indirect vision and retract lips, cheeks, and tongue. They will also use the tool to redirect light into the mouth. The name is pretty easy to remember because it is a mirror in the mouth.

2. Sickle Probe or Dental Explorer

Just like mouth mirror, dental sickle, and scalers, a sickle probe, also known as a dental explorer. It is one of those scarier dental tools, but it is beneficial in finding signs of cavities or gum disease. 

This dental instrument has a long handle with a sharp-looking hook on the ends. The dental instrument is primarily used to explore the pockets between your teeth. At the same time, it is also used to scrape away the deposited tartar and plaque.

If you have a visible cavity, your dentist may also use a sharp tip to investigate. It might look medieval, but it is a necessary tool for preventative dentistry.

3. Scaler

A sickle probe can effectively remove small areas of plaque on teeth and tartar. Scalers are essential for removing a greater buildup. 

Note that patients who require scaling generally have more significant issues with periodontal disease. But remember that everyone experiences some form of plaque buildup. Tiny particles like sugars and acids stick to your teeth when you eat or drink, and bacteria start forming.

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This harmful bacteria eventually cause tooth decay, and while brushing and flossing help remove most of this plaque, additional removal is sometimes required. A scaler easily scrapes off excess plaque. Though it is not necessarily comfortable, it might prevent you from losing your teeth to decay.

4. Saliva Ejector or Suction Device

Unlike some other dental instruments, a saliva ejector is easier to deal with. When your dentist examines your mouth, they often need a dry surface.

In such a scenario, a suction device is a long tube attached to a vacuum. Your dentist will use the tool to remove the saliva from your mouth. 

You may hear some vacuum sounds and feel the ejector stick to your tongue or cheek. But it is nothing that you should fear. During your treatments at the dental clinic, your dentist will frequently use dental instruments. They will regularly instruct you to close your mouth in order to help the device clear the accumulated water.

5. Dental Drill

Perhaps the most feared of all tools is the dental drill. The sound of the drill is enough to send some patients into a frenzy. 

Your dentist will use this tool to deal with cavities. Hence, the acuteness of cavities will govern your dentist’s choice of dental devices. 

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But it is the most effective way to remove tooth decay before filling the cavity. This electric drill spins at 250,000 rpm while shooting water into your mouth. If the drill did not administer water, it would get hot enough, which might damage the tooth. 

You may think that the dental drill can feel uncomfortable because of vibrations on your teeth. But it is usually not painful when you receive a local anesthetic.

6. Dental Syringe

Speaking of anesthetics, your dentist will use the dental syringe to deliver the numbing blow to your mouth before a procedure. They are usually a bit longer than a typical needle or syringe so the dentist can hit the correct spot when administering the anesthetic. 

As with a shot, the initial injection might cause discomfort for a moment. But the area is quickly numbed by the anesthetic. If you are bit uncomfortable around needles, the best option is to look at them. 

But it happens so quickly that it is nothing you should fear. Today, many dentists also administer a topical anesthetic before using the dental syringe to dull the initial needle prick.

7. Molds

If you need a cap, crown, or mouth guard, your dentist might have to get a mold (or mold) for your teeth. These molds are small frames filled with a soft substance and placed in your mouth. 

When you bite down, these frames provide a perfect mold of your teeth. The molding material does not taste great, but it is something you cannot tolerate for a few seconds. Some dentists even have flavored versions available for kids of all ages.

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Now that you know something about these dental instruments that go into routine dental practices, you do not have to hide under a blanket due to fear.   

8. Periodontal Probe

Your dentist will use this tool to measure periodontal pocket depth in millimeter increments. The Greek root for “peri-” means that something is related to bone or the tissue around your tooth. It is primarily a tool used to evaluate the state of your mouth. 

9. Extracting Forceps

This dental instrument can help remove your teeth. We all know that forceps are for grabbing things. So the most important thing to remember is extraction. It comes from the Latin word “to dig or pull out”.

10. Spoon Excavators

Your dentist will use it to remove small amounts of decay close to the nerve. Your dentist will use a dental drill to prick out enamel cavities. Note that the cavities extend down from the enamel to the pulp. 

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Sometimes the material in your tooth cavity is soft. Therefore no drill is necessary. Your dentist will use a spoon excavator to remove this kind of decay.

As you might know, intensive cavities destroy the tooth’s structure, thus making it soft and feeble. When the cavities are quite deep, your dentist will scoop out the delicate diseased part of the tooth using spoon excavators.

11. Burnisher

Your dentist will use burnishers towards the end of a procedure to smooth and polish your teeth. The tool is also used to remove scratches. After the primary process, your dentist will often use it after dental restorations to tidy up the tooth.

12. X-ray

Sometimes your tooth problem may not be immediately apparent. In such a scenario, your dentist will take an x-ray as it shows a more detailed view of the teeth and bones. Without an x-ray, issues such as early decay are difficult to identify and detect.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know a bit about the dental instruments that go into routine dental practices, you do not have to hide under a blanket of fear. Just be cool, as these tools are harmless in the hands of your dental professionals. Though these tools may look menacing are typically offset by something, such as an anesthetic – that will help you remain comfortable.