Not all dentist practices are created equal. For many, this begins and ends with the dentists at the practice. Certainly the hygienists and support staff also play a large role in the makeup of a practice as well. But so too do the actual tools the dentists use in order to get the job done. The following is a quick look at some of the tools all dentists use on a daily basis.
- The Mirror:
The small, rounded mirror at the end of a metal grip is angled in order to allow your dentist to view the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. In addition to redirecting light so your dentist can see all angles of your teeth, the mirror also magnifies your mouth and teeth to allow for better viewing of any problem areas.
- The Probe:
Also known as a sickle probe or a dental explorer, this is a metal rod with a very thin, curved hook. Your dentist touches your teeth with that same curved hook in order to determine the levels of plaque and tartar on each tooth. At the same time, your dentist is also examining the hardness of your teeth and checking for any cavities. Periodontal probes are very similar in design, except their ends are blunted. These probes measure the space between your teeth and gums. Your dentist can also use these types of probes to clean along your gums to help prevent more tartar buildup.
- The Drill or The Bur:
The most famous (or should we say infamous) of all your dentist’s tools. Maybe it’s because of the high-pitched whirr or the name itself, but certain people always seem to fear the dental drill. There are all types of drills and they’re used for a variety of procedures; for instance, filling cavities, smoothing teeth, fixing chips, or removing hardened plaque. Because several of these procedures can be painful, the bur is typically used in conjunction with some variety of painkiller like Novocain.
- The Saliva Ejector:
The hygienic and disposable saliva ejector offers your dentist suction in order to remove saliva, excess water, debris, or even blood during various procedures. The ejector’s a curved tube that acts like a vacuum inside your mouth. Besides this instrument, your dentist can also use other absorbent elements, like cotton (see the next item for more information).
- The Cotton Pliers:
They look very similar to a pair of small tongs that have tapered points. These points bend freely at almost any angle. The pliers are used to handle cotton pads (or other small items) to remove or absorb items from your mouth. All of which makes for a more comfortable and hygienic experience.
- The X-rays:
In this day and age, most dental practices now have X-ray equipment within the office itself. X-rays are an important tool that allow your dentist to detect any hidden problems in your teeth or gums that frequently go undetected during the course of a regular exam. X-rays can detect tooth decay, cavities, or other related dental issues within the tooth or gum line way before it’s obvious to the naked eye.
And there you have it, a brief tour around your dentist’s tool tray. Hopefully by learning a little bit more about what each of these tools do, it will reduce any anxiety you may have on your next office visit.