Principal Tools for Dental Procedures

During a trip to the dentist, services range from simple cleanings to major dental surgeries, and the instruments and equipment that are used depend on the particular dental procedures.

Dental Tools For Assessment

Initially, patients will complete a history and dental assessment examination. Some of the important tools for an adequate examination include hand-held sickle probes and tiny, specialized mirrors. The probes are used to measure gum loss and root depth as well as explore the extent of dental caries and gum lesions, among many other tasks. X-rays are the single best method for visually examining areas of the teeth, gums and jaw that cannot otherwise be seen. By storing and collating patient data, serving as a graphical display device for patients and staff and processing and transferring information, the computer has become a vital tool in dentistry, as well.

A Hygienist's Tools

By thoroughly cleaning the teeth and serving as a screener in advance of the dentist, professional dental hygienists play a major role in controlling dental disease. Beyond specialized chairs, lighting and magnifiers, some of the tools they use include the following:

  • Ultrasonic power scalers, with water and air syringes, clean and rinse the surfaces of teeth to the gum line and slightly below it.
  • Hand scalers are bladed tools used to scrape deposits above the gum line, while curettes do the same thing, especially below the gum line.
  • Saliva ejectors suck excess liquid out of a patient's mouth.
  • At the end of a visit to the hygienist, applicators with rubber tips are used to apply polish.

What Dentists Use

Dentists use many of the same tools as hygienists. In addition to these tools, they use cleaning and disposal equipment, various extraction instruments that include forceps and chisels, and assistive instruments like retractors, tweezers, forceps, elevators and hemostats. They also have a variety of instruments for orthodontic and endodontics.

Drills and burs are the single most important tool used by dentists for most dental procedures. These drills, whether electric or air-driven, are used by the dentist to grind and cut teeth as well as polish them and remove debris. Burrs are very specialized tips and adapters that fit on the drill to perform these different functions.

Anesthesia and medication delivery agents and supplies, from syringes, pressurized gas tanks and regulators to masks, tubing and monitoring equipment, are common in dentists' offices. Dentists demonstrate proper oral care and clarify issues with the use of educational devices, like intraoral cameras and models of teeth and jaws. Patients are routinely sent home with proactive dental care supplies, like floss and toothbrushes.

Learn more about the dental assisting and dental hygiene programs at Fortis. 

Tags: allied-health, Dental, Dental Assisting, dental hygiene, healthcare, medical technology

Charles R. Hooper, MSW

About Charles R. Hooper, MSW

With over 20 years experience as a medical social worker and a master's degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I have been honored to dedicate most of my professional life to service in health care. I have worked in multiple medical/nursing settings, including cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, trauma care and others. I also founded the medical social work program at a regional trauma center and a very busy emergency department. View all posts by Charles R. Hooper, MSW →