What Are the Tools We Use During Exams Actually For?

When you walk into a dentist’s office, the first thing you notice is the big comfy chair. You may also notice the moveable light over the chair. And then there is the small sink next to the chair just for you. You are generally fine until you sit down, get your bib on and we roll the platform that holds the tools of our trade. Make no mistake about it. We realize how frightening our tools can appear.

Much of what makes people anxiety-ridden about seeing us has to do with the tools. The thing is, if you understand what they are used for, you will be far less anxious about us using them on you. So, let us start with the most common tools that we use during a basic exam.

What Do the Tools Do?

One of the first tools we use is the probe. The probe has a handle with wire tip at the end that is shaped a little like a hook. When we pull out the probe, we are looking for little cavities, fractures that you would not be able to notice and plaque that has formed. The probe can also check to be sure your fillings and crowns are securely in place. We have several different types of probes and they all have a special function. The one just described is the explorer, the periodontal probe, which looks almost the same, is used to measure pockets and recession in your gums among other things.

You will also notice our handheld mirror. The mirror generally does not alarm people and it is fairly easy to figure out why we use it. The dental mirror helps us to see areas we cannot see. We use it for the back of your teeth. It allows us to see things from various angles such as plaque build-up and cavities.

Then scaler, another essential tool, is similar to the probe, but their tips are thicker. The scaler needs a thicker tip because we use it to clean tartar and plaque from your teeth. Brushing and flossing can’t remove tartar it has to be carefully scraped away. This is why we tell you to come in for annual cleanings at the very least. If you come in for semi-annual cleanings, we may be able to prevent the build-up and tartar formation, but at the very least we want to remove it.

If you have any questions about our tools, please feel free to ask.

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