Instruments for oral health assessment

These utensils can be found in any dental office, with a high rate of probability that the dentist will use them during your next routine dental check-up. Together they form a minimal dental kit used by any dentist when performing regular clinical exams, a.k.a. his or her basic hand instruments. Newer home-use dental kits for dental care and self examination are now easily available for patients to buy from pharmacies and supermarkets, and include some of the dental tools and appliances you can find in a real dental office. They are a good opportunity to begin the study of professional dental instruments.

A mouth mirror can be simple or double sided (i.e. reflective on either one or both sides), flat or concave, usually round shaped and attached at the end of a regular handle. Like any other mirror, a mouth mirror can be used to reflect light, while some of these devices even have their own source of light. It is often used by dentists to gain a better view of places inside the patient’s mouth that would otherwise be inaccessible, obscured, difficult or even impossible to view. Mouth mirrors are mostly examination instruments, but can incidentally be used in other purposes as well, such as to retract cheeks or tongue during diverse medical procedures, and ensure both visibility and safety throughout the process.

Dental explorers are exploration instruments or probes, with one two active tips, used by your dentist to touch the surface of the tooth in order to find and diagnose early decay of the dental enamel, infiltrations behind old fillings or other restorative works such as dental inlays and dental crowns. A dental explorer can be used to evaluate the degree of sensitivity or lack of sensitivity of a tooth, as a control factor during certain stages of a root canal procedure.

Dentists also use cone-shaped flexible explores for a wide range of procedures, such as introducing medication on the root canal; these flexible probes also have a role in evaluation and diagnose, such as spotting out cracks on the ceiling of the pulp chamber.

Myth buster: Sickle probes are NOT used to poke your gums!

Sickle probe see Dental explorers

Periodontal probes are used in measuring the distance between the tooth and the gums. The distance must not range above 3mm deep: if it does, your dentist will probably tell you that you’ve got some form of periodontal disease.

Dental tweezers are double instruments, with two active arms in various angles and shapes, to serve multiple tasks. They are not radically different from the tweezers you’ve probably got in your own home. Dentists usually handle them to pick sterile objects and supplies, as well as small dental instruments, or to apply and remove cotton rolls and gauze.

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