Dental Assisting Tools

saliva ejector/Suction
removes saliva and fluid; small, straw like

High Volume Evacuator (HVE)/ High Speed
removes large debris, blood, and fluids; large straw; plastic or metal

Articulating Paper/Bite Paper
check the occlusal surface for high or low spots; blue or red in color and will smear on your fingers

Prophy Paste
used to polish and shine up the crown of the tooth

Disposable Matrix
used on a restoration (filling) when a wall is missing

Squeeze Cloths
used to collect Amalgam (silver filling material)

4×4 Gauze
used for cleaning the operatory

2×2 Gauze
Used chairside to remove debris from instruments mirrors, mouths

to clean interpromially on mesial and distal surfaces

Cotton tipped applicator
to apply topical or varnish fluoride; looks like a Q-tip

to place in cheek to block the parotid gland

Cotton Pellet
used to add medicine or to dry a tooth

2″ cotton roll
used to dry and isolate in the cheek or under tongue

patient bib or napkin
protects patients clothing

bib eez/ alligator clips/ bib or napkin clips
hold patient’s bib in place; shiny side goes against the patient; fold at least 1/2″ of the top of bib so it’s comfortable against the patient’s neck

rubber dam material
dries and isolates area of oral cavity being worked on

allows patient to drink or rinse out the mouth

black pen
records what was done or needs to be done for patient

records chart materials in the mouth

red/blue colored pencil
used to chart present treatments in the oral cavity (blue, or treatments that need to be done (red)

tongue blade or depressor
retracts cheek, lip, or tongue; checks for oral cancer or other lesions

retracts cheek or tongue; reflects light

checks for caries (decay); checks margins of restorations and crowns

cotton forceps/cotton pliers
carries items to and from mouth

perio probe
used to read the pocket depth (sulcus) in millimeters (mm)
normal 0-3 mm
gingivitis: 4+ mm
periodontitis 6+ mm

spoon excavator
used to scoop out decay from a tooth

Air-Water Syringe
An air-water syringe is a metal device that is hooked up to both an air and water supply. The device has a long, thin tube in which the air and water are expelled. Two buttons are located on the air-water syringe; one button is for air and the other is for water. The dental assistant will commonly use the air button when trying to keep the field of view clear for the dentist. Debris and saliva will frequently make the area difficult to see, thereby making this tool a necessity. The dental assistant will utilize the water button when the area of the jaw that is being worked on needs to be rinsed off. This commonly occurs when filling a cavity or sealing a tooth.

Saliva Ejector
The saliva ejector, which is often called a spit suction device, is a tool that is commonly used by dental assistants during most dental procedures. This instrument is usually white in color and has a handle attached to a flexible tube. The tube is attached to a suctioning device, which allows the dental assistant to use the saliva ejector to remove saliva from the mouth. This is important because patients are unable to swallow during most dental procedures, forcing saliva to accumulate in the mouth. Excess saliva can make it difficult or impossible for the dentist to do her work, which is why the saliva ejector is such an important piece of equipment.

High Volume Evacuator
The high volume evacuator is frequently used by dental assistants during oral surgery, root canals and fillings. This tool is similar in nature to the saliva ejector, though the tube is much wider. The diameter of the high volume evacuator can be as wide as 1/3 inch. This tool is used to remove any debris that may be in the mouth, such as tooth chips or food. If this debris were not removed, the patient could develop an infection or the procedure may not be able to be performed properly. Therefore, it is essential that this tool is used correctly by the dental assistant.

Sickle and Nabers Probes
Dentists use several types of probes to examine teeth and gum tissue. According to “Basic Guide to Dental Instruments,” the pointed tips of both the sickle/contra-angled probe and the Nabers probe allow tactile sensitivity useful for dental examination. Dentists use the sickle and Nabers probes for the detection of cavities, pits, fissures, and defective crowns or bridges. These probes come in several different styles and can be single- or double-ended.

Briault Probe
The Briault probe is used in the detection of cavities on mesial or distal tooth surfaces. This probe has two angled ends useful in detecting decay between teeth, according to “Basic Guide to Dental Instruments.”

College Tweezers
Dental tweezers, called “college tweezers,” can be used for “placing small objects in the mouth and retrieving small objects from the mouth,” according to “Basic Guide to Dental Instruments.” College tweezers may “lock” to prevent dropping materials though they also come in nonlocking varieties. The working ends of college tweezers can be straight or curved, and serrated or smooth.

Dentists also use metal or plastic rulers to measure length during dental examinations. These rulers may be calibrated for different units of measurement

Among dental assistants chief responsibilities is patient care. They prep the patient’s mouth for a dental procedure and make the patient comfortable. A pair of tweezers is a common setup tool found near the dental chair. Dental assistants and dentists frequently use college tweezers to manipulate small objects, such as cotton, in a patient’s mouth. Certain types of college tweezers lock once they grab an object so that it doesn’t slip from the dental assistant’s or dentist’s grasp.

Protective Wear
Providing protective wear is part of the basic setup responsibilities of dental assistants. Most dental assistants and dentists wear a mask and rubber gloves. These prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. In addition, some dental assistants and dentists wear safety glasses or a face shield to avoid getting chemicals and debris in their eyes either when cleaning an instrument or during a dental procedure.

This is a condenser, also known as a plugger that is used to press the silver filling into place.

This instrument is used to carve and shape amalgam (silver) fillings.

Matrix Band
A matrix band is used to separate the teeth while a white / tooth colored filling is placed.

A wooden wedge is used to slightly pry the teeth apart if a cavity is in between two teeth.

Curing Light
This is a curing light which is used to harden the filling material used for white / tooth colored fillings and also the material used for sealants.

Periodontal Probe
Periodontal Probe
A periodontal probe is used by a dentist or hygienist to measure the depths of a space between the tooth and gum.

A scaler is most often used during a dental cleaning to remove tartar, also known as calculus.

This is a spatula that the dentist or dental assistant uses to mix up specific materials.

This is a photo of an explorer. This instrument (along with a mouth mirror) is the instrument that a dentist and hygienist use on probably every patient.

Cotton Pliers
Cotton Pliers
These look like tweezers, but in dentistry they are called cotton pliers.

Bite Block
This is what the dentist sometimes uses to have the patient bite on to keep their mouth open.

This instrument is called an excavator. A dentist uses an excavator to remove decay from the tooth.

Root Canal Files
Root canal files are small instruments that increase in diameter and fit down into the canals of the tooth.

Amalgam Well
This is an amalgam well. The amalgam filling material is placed into this well after it is mixed.

Double Ended Amalgam Carrier
This instrument is called a double ended amalgam carrier.

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