What are Those Poky Things at the Dental Office for Anyways?
Have you ever sat in the dental chair, looked over at the tray of instruments and wondered just what the hygienist has planned for that poky thing? Fear of the unknown is a big reason that a lot of patients get nervous for their dentist appointments. At Spokane Dental, we strive to make our patients as comfortable and at ease as possible, and one simple way we do that is explain what is happening throughout the appointment. In this post, we’ve comprised a list of some of those daunting looking instruments at the dentist and explain just what they all do (and how harmless they are):
A dental explorer is an instrument that does just that: explore! It may look intimidating on the tray when you walk in with its pointy ends, but this is a very important and harmless instrument. Dr. Smith and our dental hygiene team use explorers to feel for cavities and tartar build up on the teeth. This is an important step in diagnosing oral disease and making a plan to treat it.
Have you ever heard your hygienist say, “I’m going to probe now?” Don’t worry! All your hygienist is doing is using this instrument to measure the health of your gums and bone surrounding the teeth. The black markings on the probe are millimeter increments that hygienists use to check gum levels and compare to last readings. This practice makes a chart for every visit for the dental team to monitor your periodontal (gum + bone surrounding the teeth) health.
Sometimes a dental hygienist will use an ultrasonic scaler during the cleaning. This is an instrument that very quickly and effectively removes stain and tartar build up on the teeth. The tip of the instrument moves quickly in minuscule motions and uses water to maintain temperature as well as flush debris from under the gums. You can expect the hygienist to use suction at the same time to remove the water, and an ultra-clean feeling mouth when they are done!
A dental polisher is essentially an electric toothbrush, but with a soft rubber cup for a head. The hygienist uses a paste to polish the teeth. The polisher is effective for removing stain and plaque, which whitens the teeth for a sparkly smile when you leave.
At Spokane Dental, we have several options for x-rays to ensure we get the clearest picture of what is going on both with your teeth and anatomy under the gums. Depending on your oral needs, we take what are called Bitewing X-Rays on a regular basis. The part that goes in your mouth (that you hold with your teeth) is called a sensor. The sensor is the area that the x-ray is taking a picture of. The x-ray head is attached to the arm that the hygienist moves close, which captures the image.
Cone Beam Imaging
It can feel intimidating stepping into this machine, but the only difficult part is holding still for a few seconds. The hygienist or assistant will direct you where to stand, and part of the machine moves around your head, taking a 3-dimensional picture of your mouth. This imaging allows Dr. Smith to rule out disease as well as treatment plan procedures like dental implants in 3 dimensions!
Call us today at (509)822-5614 to schedule your next dental visit, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! We want to make your experience as stress free and possible.