9 Common Dental Hygienist Tools and Their Uses

Dental hygienists are professionals who assist dentists with their different tasks. They can educate patients about proper oral care, check gums and teeth for signs of disease, perform teeth cleaning, provide different dental treatments, and even operate X-ray machines.

In addition to cleaning, sanitizing, and organizing a dentist’s tools, dental hygienists use various tools to perform their daily duties. They order various tools and equipment from a dental supply store.

Here are nine common dental hygienist tools you can usually find in a dental office.

1. Dental mirror

Just like dentists, dental hygienists use dental mirrors for different purposes. Mirrors help them see what is going on around their patients’ teeth and examine their mouth, gums, tongue, cheeks, and throat to look for issues or signs of disease.

Since dental mirrors have long and thin handles, dental hygienists can also use them to gently push the soft tissues of a patient’s mouth out of the way. This allows them to have a better view of the areas they are trying to examine.

2. Dental probe

A dental or periodontal probe has a thin handle and a long, bent metal tip. This blunt metal tip often has markings on it.

This is because dental hygienists use them to measure the depth of the pockets surrounding a patient’s teeth. If a pocket between a tooth and the patient’s gums is deeper than 3 mm, and if it bleeds when the probe is used, it’s usually a sign of gum disease.

3. Dental curette

A dental curette is another metal tool with two ends that look like small hooks with a blunt tip. These tools can be of different sizes and lengths and have one or two cutting edges.

Dental hygienists use curettes as part of a non-surgical periodontal treatment. The edges of a curette allow them to remove plaque and tartar from a patient’s teeth and clean and smooth the exposed roots of the teeth.

4. Dental scaler

Dental scalers are tools with narrow tips, which can be of different shapes and sizes. Like curettes, they aim to remove plaque and tartar from a patient’s teeth and plant exposed roots.

However, scalers can’t be used below the gum line since they have a pointy tip. A dental hygienist might then need to alternate between a scaler and a curette as they thoroughly clean a patient’s teeth.

5. Powered scaler

A powered or ultrasonic scaler is a power-driven tool a dental hygienist can use to clean teeth. The tool’s vibrations safely and effectively destroy tartar, clean stains, and remove bacteria from a patient’s teeth, both above and below the gum line.

A water spray will help cool the tool while washing away bacteria and debris with a powered scaler during the treatment.

6. Hatchets

Hatchets are another example of common dental hygienist tools. These metal tools look like curettes but have small blades of different shapes and sizes instead of hooks.

Dental hatchets are cutting tools. Dental hygienists use them to cleave and plane enamel and to prepare a tooth with a cavity to receive a filling.

7. Dental polisher

A dental polisher is a hand-held device that resembles an electric toothbrush. But instead of brushing teeth, a polisher polishes them to make them look clean, shiny and smooth.

When a dental hygienist uses a polisher, they apply a mild abrasive paste to the rotating tip of the tool. The polisher then spins to remove stains and smooth the surface of the patient’s teeth.

Polishing is a nice finishing touch after a thorough teeth cleaning.

8. Saliva ejector

While dental hygienists and dentists work, saliva builds up in a patient’s mouth. This is why dental hygienists use a device called a saliva ejector.

A saliva ejector is a tube with a disposable tip that looks like a bent straw. It sucks saliva, water, blood, and small debris out of a patient’s mouth to improve their comfort while allowing the dentist and hygienist to have better visibility while they perform different procedures.

After the patient leaves, the dental hygienist will clean and sanitize the saliva ejector and throw away the disposable tip.

9. Cotton forceps

Finally, another tool dental hygienists use is a pair of cotton forceps. Cotton forceps look like tweezers with a bent tip.

Dental hygienists can use them to place or remove cotton from a patient’s mouth and place or remove different items in areas that are hard to reach.

As you can see, dental hygienists commonly use various tools to perform their work and are responsible for cleaning and sanitizing these tools after each use.

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