Let’s face it, there’s a lot going on in the dentist’s office. While the atmosphere may be cheerful and calm, it’s also a busy place with a great deal happening around you. One of the most common questions we get from patients is about equipment. Boiled down: what are all those things in the dentist’s office? What do the machines do, and what are all these instruments for? While there’s too much to go over in one blog, we can talk about some of the more common instruments, tools, and machines that we use, what they do, and how they work. Along the way, we’ll hope you’ll learn a bit more about dentistry and how to better care for your teeth.
Let’s start with the two most common, and perhaps, most iconic, dental tools. We’re all familiar with the dental mirror–the small round mirror with a long narrow handle. The dentist uses this in the way you might think–it allows them to look around inside your mouth and to see what’s going on from a variety of angles that would otherwise be inaccessible. This is one of the oldest tools in dentistry, and it is invaluable for dentists and other oral health professionals. Often seen alongside the mirror is the dental explorer. This is the thin metal hook shaped instrument with a similarly long narrow handle to the dental mirror. The dental explorer works as a general tool in dentistry. It allows the dentist to probe the teeth looking for problems, to check for plaque and tartar, and to perform numerous other tasks. It’s one of the most useful tools dentists have, and thus the one you may see most often.
You also will probably notice a variety of hook-shaped tools used for removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and gums during your cleaning appointments. They go by various names like probes, scalers, and curettes, and they all serve specialized functions during dental cleaning.
Now, we need to talk about another common dental tool that isn’t always a favorite with patients: the dental drill. These small high-speed drills are characterized by their infamous high-pitched whine and the peculiar grinding sensation they create when in use. Like most dental tools, they serve a number of functions: drilling away damaged portions of teeth, altering or shaping dental prosthetics, or polishing and burnishing teeth or prosthetics. Dental drills are important, useful tools, and while many people are a bit afraid of them, there’s no reason to be. In skilled hands, they can do a lot to improve your oral health.
Let’s talk about larger machines. Your dentist may utilize any of a number of imaging machines to take x-rays and other images of your teeth, gums, and jaw. These can range from traditional x-rays to more complex three-dimensional imaging systems. There are a number of designs and models on the market, so if you’re curious as to what we have at Queen City Dental Arts, just ask. These machines are some of the biggest advancements in modern dentistry, offering a safe and effective way to see what’s going on with your teeth and to identify problems before they get too serious.
We hope this helps you understand the tools and machines in your dentist’s office. If you have specific questions, just ask–our friendly staff will explain what’s going on and what purpose it serves. We’re also here if it’s time for an appointment, so if you’re due for an exam or cleaning or you have some other oral health concern, call your team at Queen City Dental Arts today!