Guide to Common Dental Instruments

Dental instruments on trayWhen you step into a dental office, the sights, smells, and instruments may make you a little uneasy, but there’s no reason to worry. Although some instruments can make your palms sweat, they are crucial for the quality of care you receive. You don’t have to feel anxious when it’s time to visit your dentist. Here’s a list of the most common dental instruments your dentist will use. You’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on during your appointment to calm your nerves. 

Dental Drill

A dental drill is often at the top of the list of scary dental instruments. The small electric drill spins at a high speed to remove decay while shooting water into your mouth. With no water, your tooth would suffer damage from getting too hot. The drill may cause unusual sensations, but you won’t have any pain because your dentist will use a numbing agent to keep you comfortable.

Mouth Mirror

You’ve probably seen a mouth mirror before. It’s a small circular mirror attached to a thin, long handle. This allows your dentist to view everywhere in your mouth, including hard-to-see areas, like behind your teeth. Your dentist can also use the small device to push your tongue or cheek out of the way to get a better look. As a result, you can feel confident that nothing will be overlooked, like a small cavity. 

Saliva Ejector

A saliva ejector is essentially a vacuum for your mouth. It sucks away saliva and debris to give your dentist a clean, dry surface to examine your mouth or perform a treatment. Don’t be alarmed by the noise or if it sticks to your cheek or tongue. Although it may startle you, it won’t be painful.


A scaler is used during routine cleanings and checkups to remove plaque and tartar. It is designed to remove more significant buildup that’s associated with gum disease. Although the process can feel a little unusual, it can prevent you from losing your teeth.

Sickle Probe

Also known as a dental explorer, a sickle probe can make patients a little uneasy because it has a sharp-looking hook at the end of a long handle. Although it may look scary, it won’t cause any pain as your dentist uses it to explore your mouth. They can examine the periodontal pockets to look for signs of gum disease, tap a tooth to check for a cavity, or clean away tartar and plaque. 

If you have any questions or concerns during your appointment, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist for clarification. They’ll give you the peace of mind you need to sit back and relax in the dental chair.

About Dr. Lance Timmerman

Dr. Timmerman achieved his dental degree at Oral Health and Sciences University and has completed additional training in dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and sleep apnea. He combines his qualifications with the latest innovations in dentistry to deliver superior care. If it’s time for your next cleaning and checkup, contact our office today to request an appointment.

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