Classification of Dental Instruments

by Procedural Use



Dental Instruments are an essential part of the dental practice. Dental professionals including dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants use various types of instruments to clean, extract, reconstruct and eliminate carries in teeth.


Some dental instruments are referred to by their use while others are referred to by their technical name. There are three basic groups of dental instruments used in general dentistry: general instruments that are used in a variety of procedures, extraction instruments, and those instruments used for reconstruction of the teeth.




The use of general instruments is not limited to any particular part of the dental practice. These instruments can be used in both hygiene and operative procedures.




The explorer has a variety of uses. It can be used to prod the teeth in order to check for soft spots that indicate the presents of carries, to scrape plaque or tarter off the surfaces of teeth, or to help with the placement of amalgam during the filling process.


Dental Mirror


No matter how big or small a mouth, it can be hard to see each and every surface of each and every tooth. The dental mirror aids the dental professional with a better view of the working area. The mirror can also be used to suppress the tongue, keeping it away form the hand piece in the drilling process.




The scalar is primarily used to scrape solidified plaque and tarter off the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gum line. Occasionally, the scalar is used to scrape off excessive glue from crowns or sealant material from the application of sealants.




To eliminate pain during some dental procedures the dentist or hygienist will administer an analgesic to the gums surrounding the tooth or teeth to be worked on. The syringe is used to administer the analgesia.


Air/Water Tip


The air/water tip is inserted into a valve that will allow the dental professional to blow air or squirt water on the desired area in the mouth. Air/water tips come in a stainless steel and disposable forms.




Extraction instruments allow the dentist to extract teeth from the mouth of the patient. These extractions can be based on the need to eliminate teeth that are too decayed to be crowned, primary teeth that need to be extracted in order to allow the permanent teeth to erupt, or to simply create space for orthodontic procedures.




The Wilson is the instrument that the dentist may use to pry back the gum tissue in performing an extraction. Wilsons come in many different shapes and sizes and are generally referred to as simply a small, medium, or large Wilson.




During the extraction process, elevator instruments are used to pry back the gum tissue and dig underneath the tooth in order to thrust the tooth upward for extraction. These elevators also come in small, medium, and large sizes.




There are a variety of forceps used in extraction procedures. There are upper anterior, lower anterior, upper posterior, and lower posterior forceps. Each of these particular forceps also comes in pediatric sizes.




Reconstruction of the teeth is done in many different ways and for numerous different reasons. Dental reconstruction includes amalgam and composite fillings, bonding, shaping, crowning, and root removal of the teeth.


Hand Piece


Commonly known as the drill, the dentist uses the hand piece along with a variety of different bits to eliminate the decay, prepare a tooth for a crown, and to reconstruct the surface of a tooth after the bonding process.


Amalgam Carrier


The amalgam carrier consists of a small tube on one end and a large tube on the other end. The dental assistant will load the ends with amalgam and hand it to the dentist who, in turn, fills the drilled out portion of the tooth with the amalgam.




After the amalgam is inserted into the tooth, the dentist uses the plugger to firmly pack the amalgam. This ensures all the air pockets are filled and allows the dentist to insert the maximum amount of amalgam.




The amalgam, which is inserted into the drilled portion of the tooth, needs to have a smooth surface that will allow the upper and lower teeth to fit together when the patient bites down. The dentist uses the carver to create these crevices on the tooth’s biting surface.




Whenever a tooth is capped, the crown, being either stainless steel or porcelain, will need to be glued to the remaining portion of the tooth. The assistant will use the spatula to mix the proper glue solution and powder to create the desired mixture. Then, the assistant will use the spatula to load the crown with the glue. Spatulas can also be used to mix temporary filling materials.


While there are a countless number of dental instruments, the general, extraction, and reconstruction instruments listed above are the basic dental instruments that general dentists use. This is a basic list of instruments used in the field of dentistry, although; every dentist has his own preference and unique combination of dental instruments they use in their practice.


Diana Adaire


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