Tools of the Trade for My Dental Hygienist

Besides a keen pair of eyes and steady hands, dental hygienists have quite a few not-so-secret weapons available to make your visits productive and comfortable.

Sphygmomanometers and Stethoscopes

It’s fitting that these life saving devices are given ridiculously unpronounceable names!  A blood pressure cuff and counterpart are incredibly important tools that your hygienist should be using.  No matter your health status or mood, a blood pressure check gives your hygienist a clue as to how you’re feeling and whether or not it’s a good time to visit your physician.  For some strange reason, some people will develop dental office related anxiety that can increase blood pressure a bit.  If your heart rate is also increased, your trusty hygienist will do her best to make you as relaxed as possible.  In some cases, a high blood pressure will also determine what kind of anesthetics we should use.  Last but not least, in the very rare event of an emergency, we have baseline data to share with EMS.  This information could save your life.

Two Mirrors

“One for you and one for me”.  Tiny mouth mirrors and an overhead light are crucial tools for navigating that dark realm in your mouth.  Without them, cleaning your teeth would be near impossible.  A handheld mirror for show and tell is also one of the most efficient strategies for patient education.  Can’t quite floss underneath your bridge with a threader?  Your hygienist will show you how!

The Mighty Explorer and Periodontal Probe

Otherwise known by our patients as “that sharp metal tool and pokey thing”, without these, our dental staff wouldn’t be able to measure the bone that holds your teeth in place or carefully check to make sure your fillings are structurally sound.  The explorer is also great for checking the cement around crowns and bridges.  It’s also great for pointing things out to you.

Scalers and Curettes

A cleaning just wouldn’t be a cleaning without these tools!  These carefully sharpened instruments are what give our hygienists the ability to ward off infection and help give you a lifetime of healthy smiles.  Ultrasonic instruments and hand scalers are both designed to remove hardened plaque (tartar) and live germs that cause periodontal disease.  There are many types of scalers with a variety of names and shapes.  You will find that each hygienist has his or her favorites.

X-ray vision

Can you imagine trying to figure out what’s wrong with a car engine without popping the hood first?  Trying to figure out how a patient’s teeth are doing without x-rays is a waste of time.  We want to assure you that we recommend these images with your best interest in mind and the exposure to you is very minimal.  Like any other medical condition, early detection is our goal.  We can save you time and money by finding problems early on.

So there are five of the most important tools your hygienist can use to give you top-notch care.  What is your most or least favorite part of a visit with the hygienist?