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An Introduction to Common Instruments You’ll See in Dental Assistant Training

dental assistant program

When you study dental assisting, you will be guided through a number of subjects including how to prepare clients for dental examinations, placing temporary crowns, and taking preliminary impressions for diagnostic casts, among many other things.  You will gain the confidence needed to work as part of a dental team, and help with many different tasks.

In order to maintain this confidence when you assist a dentist or hygienist chair-side, it is necessary to have a familiarity and understanding of the tools they use for procedures. This is one of the many ways in which you directly contribute to a dental office’s productivity. This introduction to instruments will get you ready for the hands-on experience you will be offered during a dental assisting program.

Bitewings and Burnishers

During your dental assistant program, you will learn that you might be responsible for taking and developing x-rays. A necessary instrument for this task is the bitewing. Essentially this instrument is a piece of plastic that the client will bite down on. The piece of plastic has tabs or wings that will help make the x-ray image clearer so the dentist can read between the teeth, so to speak.

dental assistant trainingLearn how to insert the bitewing for a comfortable x-ray experience

If a cavity is discovered in the x-ray, then the dentist will require a burnisher. When a dentist uses an amalgam to fill a cavity, the burnisher is used to smooth the filling and make sure the amalgam is properly condensed. This instrument makes sure the filling looks and feels like it is part of the tooth.

Explorers and Other Examination Instruments

When a client sits in a dental chair, it is likely that all they see if they glance to the side is a tray full of metal objects. After you complete your dental assistant training you will be able to decipher this tray and focus on making sure the client is comfortable as you assist the dentist or hygienist through examination procedures.

Explorers are part of a category of instruments called Examination Instruments. These tools are primarily for assessing a client’s oral health during the visit. Dentists use explorers, which are sometimes called sickle probes, to figure out if the surface of a tooth has abnormalities or decay. Another examination instrument is the ever-important dental mirror, which is usually used with the explorers to increase visibility.

The Elements: Air, Water, and Dental Assistant Courses

Throughout your career, you’ll use the air and water syringe, sometimes referred to as air and water tips. This instrument is very common for dental procedures.

dental assistant courseThese are usually hooked up to water and airflow, so make sure to test them first

During a cleaning or other procedures, a dental assistant may use the air and water tips to help keep the mouth clear. Suction tools provide a similar function and most patients are familiar with the feeling of these elements during their visits to the dental office. These instruments are just a few examples of the many things you will learn about during your education to become a dental assistant.

Are you interested in taking a dental assistant course?

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