As prosthodontists, we at The Oyster Bay Family Dentists have a wide variety of tools in our office. They allow us to handle just about every problem a patient might come in with, but to our patients, they may seem mysterious. We want our patients to feel comfortable with their dental care, so we thought it would be a good idea to briefly describe what the most commonly used dental instruments are and what names we might use for them.
Dental explorers are metal wands with hooks at the end. You’ve doubtlessly seen hygienists use them to break up tartar. Explorers in different shapes might be called probes or scalers when they’re being used to test the depth of gum pockets and remove plaque from beneath the gum line. They’re also used to test the hardness of each tooth’s enamel, which helps us to determine if there’s an active infection. We use explorers in combination with handheld mirrors to see the backsides of patients’ teeth and move their cheeks out of the way. As we break up tartar, we’ll suction it out with a tube called an evacuator or an ejector.
Larger evacuators are used when we need to drill away decayed enamel. The drill emits water so it won’t overheat the patient’s mouth, and the patient is numbed with medication delivered through a syringe. Fillings are applied with pluggers and polished with burnishers. When a tooth needs to be extracted, we’ll use a flat spoon called an elevator to loosen it by rocking it back and forth. We may also use reverse-action forceps to lift a tooth out once it’s loose enough to avoid harming the surrounding soft tissues..
Drs. Denise VeyVoda and Robert G. West operate The Oyster Bay Family Dentists at 123 South Street, Oyster Bay, New York, 11771. To schedule an appointment, call 516-922-5730 or visit Oyster Bay Dentists and fill out a contact sheet.