Scared of the Dentist? Here's Everything You Can Expect a Dentist to Use During Your Visit

credit: Cedric Fauntleroy

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Whether you are nervous and want to know what you are dealing with when it comes to a dental checkup, or you want to get more involved in the world of dentistry and want to know the basic instruments that dentists use, then this is the article for you! We are going to cover some of the common pieces of equipment that dentists use on their checkups, and by the end of it, you will know exactly what goes on in the dentist’s office!

Dental Explorers and Probes

what to expect at the dentist
credit: Karolina Grabowska

These are two of the first things that your dentist is going to pull out for you, and they are very important instruments. Dental explorers are designed to explore your mouth and check the teeth for issues such as cavities and plaque, and they can also be used to scrape plaque off of the teeth as well. If you have had dental restorations such as crowns and bridges they can also check on those as well.

Periodontal probes have rings attached to them and they are marked in millimeter increments, and they are designed to measure your gum recession, and also checking your gum health as well. Once these instruments do their job, your dentist will have an idea about what else they need to do to improve the health of your mouth!

Dental Scalers and Mirrors

what to expect at the dentist
credit: Cedric Fauntleroy

Scalers look similar to dental explorers, but they have a thicker hook that is designed to scrape off plaque and tartar from your teeth. They are wonderful instruments that can increase your dental health, because if you let the plaque and tartar build-up and become a massive problem, then that can lead to a lot of dental issues.

These can include gum disease and cavities, and it is one of the reasons why you need to go to the dentist because they can scrape off the plaque and tartar better than you can. Because once it hardens, it won’t come off without the dental scalers.

Dental mirrors are another important piece of dental equipment because they allow dentists to see all the areas of your mouth. Even with the dental lights and a movable dental chair, there are just some angles inside the mouth that they won’t be able to see. However, a dental mirror allows them to see all of your mouth and they will often use it in conjunction with other instruments in order to fully clean your mouth and teeth.

A Tooth Sloth

tools used at the dentist
credit: Polina Zimmerman

A tooth sloth is an item that your dentist might use, and you might be confused whenever they do pull it out because it is a simple piece of plastic. A tooth sloth is a low-tech instrument that is designed to rest between the cusp of posterior teeth and then you will bite down on it. Whenever you bite down on the tooth sloth, the cusps of your teeth will be pushed apart. Then once you release the tooth sloth, your cusps will go back into place.

For healthy teeth, this will cause no discomfort or other problems, but if you find that you are in pain while biting down, you might have inflammation around the tooth which is something that the dentist will need to treat. If you have pain while releasing the tooth sloth, that can be a sign of a crack in your teeth, which is something that needs to be fixed as well. Not bad for a little stick of plastic!

Suction and Air/Water Syringe

general dentist check up tools
credit: Anna Shvets

Finally, whenever your mouth needs to be cleaned, the dentist will use an air/water syringe. It will clean your mouth with bursts of water and air, and then suck all of the debris up with a suction instrument as well. These devices allow the dentist to keep your mouth clean of debris and saliva buildup, allowing them to work comfortably.

The Equipment Won’t Change For General Checkups

dental tools general check up dentist
credit: Daniel Frank

The best part is, once you go to the dentist and get a checkup once, you’ve done it all! The equipment that a dentist uses on you won’t change from checkup to checkup, and unless you are there for dental surgery or another specialized procedure, you won’t encounter any new items which can very great if you are nervous.

This is also good if you want to become a dentist, because you won’t need to memorize a lot of new materials and can just memorize one procedure and set of instruments!