Dentistry involves a lot of procedures. And with every procedure comes tools and instruments that aid the dentist or hygienist in completing the treatment.
Dental instruments are apparatuses used by dental professionals in examining, manipulating, treating, restoring, or extracting the teeth or its surrounding structures. There are a lot of tools used in providing dental services. Some are familiar while some may be unfamiliar.
In this article, we list 23 dental instruments you should know to better understand what transpires during a dental procedure. By learning about these instruments, hopefully this can reduce the panic you feel regarding the tools at the dentist.
#1 Alligator Napkin Clip
Before starting the procedure, your dentist or their dental assistant most probably uses this clip. An alligator napkin clip helps secure a dental bib in place on a patient’s chest to protect clothing.
#2 Amalgam Carrier
An amalgam carrier is as simple as its name suggest. It “carries” the amalgam. When you are undergoing a dental filling procedure and opt for an amalgam material, your dentist will use an amalgam carrier to quickly pick a quantity of amalgam and transfer it into the tooth requiring a filling.
A burnisher, like an amalgam carrier, is a tool often used during a dental filling procedure. After picking the amalgam, placing it on the prepared tooth, and condensing it in place, a dental burnisher comes into the picture to polish the filling. The smooth, slightly convex-headed hand-held dental instrument can also be used to shape a composite or glass ionomer cement before they set.
A carver is another tool a dentist uses alongside a dental filling procedure. A cutting instrument with either a beveled or knife-edged blade, a carver comes in a wide variety of end shapes. Dentists use this tool for forming and contouring wax or filling materials.
#5 Cement Spatula
Typically made of stainless steel, a cement spatula is a handheld dental instrument with a distal flat or curved tip. It aids a dental professional in mixing dental cement.
A dental chisel is a cutting instrument used in planing and cleaving tooth enamel, cavity preparation, and in shaping or refining amalgam or wax. It comes in several types depending on the length of shafts and dimensions of the blade.
#7 Dental Retraction Cord
A dental retraction cord, or merely a dental cord, is placed between the tooth and gums to move the gums away from the teeth. By using a dental cord, the gums will not get in the way when preparing the tooth for procedures like dental crowns.
#8 Dental Tweezers
Also known as “college tweezers,” dental tweezers aid in placing small objects inside the mouth and in retrieving small objects from the mouth. This dental instrument comes in either locking or nonlocking types. These tweezers feature either a straight or curved tip which may either be serrated or smooth.
Dental elastics are typically utilized for orthodontic treatment. Also known as rubber bands, the elastics connect to the brackets with a hook to adjust the teeth’s position. Specifically, they help patients achieve a correct bite and tooth alignment.
An elevator is a dental instrument applicable for tooth extraction procedures. This tool has a handle and a tip designed to be wedged into the ligament space between the tooth and its surrounding bone. When the elevator is forced into space, pressure is applied, and the tooth is rocked around, expanding the socket and separating the tooth from its ligament is possible.
A dental excavator is a spoon-like dental instrument which aids in cleaning out and shaping soft carious decay in preparation for a dental filling.
#12 Extraction Forceps
Forceps vary in shapes, angles, and sizes with each type designed for a specific purpose. Extraction forceps, as the name suggests, are used in tooth extractions. These forceps help extract the teeth with its crown and root intact. Aside from tooth extraction, these dental instruments also retract tissue, facilitate suturing, and hold objects.
#13 Impression Tray
Impression trays are vital in most dental procedures, especially orthodontic treatments. These trays serve as containers where the impression material is held and allowed to set. They also come in two main categories — stock and special.
#14 Matrix Retainers and Bands
A matrix band generates a temporary interproximal surface which secures in place by a matrix retainer when necessary.
Probably the most familiar dental instrument is a mouth mirror or dentist’s mirror. Dentists utilize mirrors as indirect vision, particularly for the hidden crevices and angles of the mouth hard to see with the naked eye. In addition, it serves as a light reflector and as a soft tissue retractor. A mirror is vital as it increases the visibility of certain locations of the oral cavity.
#16 Mouth Gag
A mouth gag is a dental apparatus which helps in holding open a patient’s mouth. This tool is especially valuable when working in the oral cavity and when the mouth cannot naturally open due to various conditions such as the forward dislocation of the intraarticular cartilage pad of the jaw joint.
#17 Orthodontic Pliers
As its name indicates, orthodontists and general dentists us orthodontic pliers to perform orthodontic procedures. These dental instruments function different tasks such as loop forming, contouring, torquing, and placing stops in the archwire. Orthodontic pliers can also help remove bands, brackets, and adhesives.
Osteotomes, which means “bone-cutting” or “bone-deforming,” are wedge-shaped surgical instruments. They come in varied taper steepness. They can enhance the placement of dental implants by compressing, cutting, or deforming the bone.
#19 Periodontal Curette
A periodontal curette is a treatment instrument applicable for scaling and root planing. It comes in two main categories — universal and Gracey curettes. Nonsurgical periodontal therapy often includes the use of a periodontal curette. A periodontal curette features a face, one or two cutting edges, and a round back and toe.
#20 Periodontal Scaler
A periodontal scaler is a dental tool with working ends of various shapes and sizes. However, all are all narrow at the tip. The narrow tip makes access to small embrasure spaces between the teeth possible. This dental instrument is common in prophylactic and periodontal care.
Also known as a condenser, a plugger is a flat-ended dental instrument. It helps in packing the restorative material into the prepared tooth cavity during a dental filling procedure. Meanwhile, an endodontic plugger is used in packing and condensing the gutta-percha points into the root canal.
A dental probe is a long, thin dental instrument with a blunted end. Dentists usually use this tool to measure the depths of pockets around the tooth. Additionally, probes act as a way of establishing the state of health of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth.
#23 Tongue Depressor
To better examine the mouth and throat, a tongue depressor is necessary. A tongue depressor is a flat, thin, wooden blade with smooth, round ends. Aside from dental practice, the use of this tool is also common in other fields of medicine to depress the tongue to keep it out of the way in the observation of the mouth and throat.