Brushing and flossing your teeth is vital for maintaining healthy teeth, but so are regular visits to a dental clinic. So why do most people avoid making dentist appointments? Usually, it stems from a fear of dental hygiene tools.
Some people see a visit to the dentist as intimidating – they have a mental image of a tray of scary, sharp objects sitting next to the patient’s chair. But with regular dental visits as part of your preventive dental care plan, you will likely have a better chance of avoiding lengthy dental procedures. As for those “scary” dental tools – once you know what the more commonly used instruments do, they’ll seem much less frightening.
Different Dental Hygiene Tools (and how they’re used)
To put your mind at ease, we’ve compiled a list of standard dental instruments. You’ll probably see them at your next appointment!
Dental mirrors are small, round, angled mirrors that dentists use to see hard-to-view areas like the back of your teeth. This ensures no tooth decay goes undetected. It also lets your dentist move your tongue or the inside of your cheek without using their hands.
Dental Explorer (also known as a Sickle Probe)
This instrument has a long, thin handle with a small, pointed hook at its end. Dentists and dental hygienists use the dental explorer to examine the surface of your teeth, feeling for soft areas that might indicate tooth decay, cavities, or gum disease. The dental explorer can also scrape away built-up plaque and tartar to keep your teeth clean and healthy.
The periodontal probe is straight and thin with a blunted end; it measures the depth of pockets between the gum and teeth. Its engraved markings help your dental team take accurate measurements.
Periodontal Scalers and Curettes
These instruments remove tartar (also called calculus) from tooth surfaces. Scalers are used above the gum line, while we use curettes below it.
Ultrasonic Tooth Cleaner
This device is used in place of or in addition to a scaler. Its vibrations and water stream break up plaque buildup before washing it away. This dental hygiene tool is faster and more comfortable for many patients, so we use it as an alternative when we can.
Dentists need to work with a dry surface. Our dental team uses a suction device, a long tube attached to a small vacuum, to keep your mouth dry. If saliva starts to build up, you need a swish of water, or we’re using the ultrasonic tooth cleaner listed above, you’ll see this instrument come out. For it to work, you simply close your mouth around the tube. Don’t worry about when to use the suction device — our dental hygienists will give you clear instructions during your exam!
If you need a crown or Invisalign, your dentist will use a mold to get an accurate impression of your teeth. These small frames are filled with liquid that hardens into a perfect mouth replica the dentist needs to do their work. While dental molds can be slightly uncomfortable, they’re not painful.
Dental drills can be loud, but they’re an effective way to get rid of tooth decay before the dentist fills in your cavity. They may feel uncomfortable, but with a local anesthetic, there’s nothing to worry about. Speaking of sedation…
Sedation can help with dental anxiety
Are you still feeling nervous about dental instruments? You might be a good candidate for dental sedation. The right sedative can help you feel relaxed during your time with our dentist and hygienist. That way, you can get necessary dental care without unnecessary stress. Learn more about our sedation dentistry options, and reach out with questions!
Feel Comfortable at Dakota Dentist
Hopefully, learning about these different dental tools puts your mind at ease. If you have more questions about dental instruments, we encourage you to ask them at your next appointment. No matter the type of dental service you need, Dakota Dental prioritizes your comfort during your visit. It’s one of the reasons our patients keep returning to our Apple Valley clinic.
Ready to take care of your teeth? Make an appointment here.