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what are some tools involved with dental assisting I should be familiar with?

Before I start training to become a dental assistant, I am curious about what tools and machines I will need to be familiar with.

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Anthony’s Answer

Hello Marley,
It all depends on the office you will be working in. For example some dental office may equipment with very high tech tools and other office may not. And some office may have tools for specialized procedures like a diodes laser, Erbium laser, 3D printers, crown/bridge milling machine or oral surgery and/or implant instruments.

So this answer is for a (Washington State) general dentist office that equipment with basic tools that you will need to be familiar with:

1 - The operatory will be equipment with:
a - Suction/evacuator: this is used to remove blood, saliva, water and debris from the dentist drilling.
b- water syringe: this is a water line attached to the operatory used to rinse patient's teeth/mouth.
c- Rotary handpiece: Dental assistant is not allowed to use a drill in patient's mouth, but can use to rotary handpiece to do the prophylaxis polishing.

2 - Xrays:
a - Xray tubes: Be able to take Xray Bitewing, Full Mouth etc.. (Today, most if not all of the offices use digital xray imaging, if not dental assistant also need to know how to develop Xray films and mounting them.)
b - Hand held Xray: this is a portable Xray tube.
c - Panoramic Xray.
d- Cone Beam: this is 3D imaging system (not all general dentist office is equipped with this.)

3 - Sterilization:
a- Ultrasonic cleaner: This machine use ultrasonic to remove debris from small tools before sterilization.
b- Sterilization machine: Most of office today use steam sterilization.

4 - Like medical assistant, dental assistants also need to know how to take vital signs (blood pressor, pulse, etc...)

5- Small instruments: Most of the time dental assistant does not need to know how to use these tools, but need to be familiar with them so they can hand them to the dentist as needed.

6- Impression:
a - know the impression mixing tools.
b - impression trays.
c - Stone model pouring and trimming.

7- if equipped: heat mold machine for making occlusal guards, teeth whiting trays, etc...

8- Some office will have computerized workflow. So computer skills will also help.

If you know how to operate/use these, you will know most of the 'hard' tools used in the dental office. But the most important tool that a dental assistant has is his/her personality. If you are friendly, willing to listen to the patients, and providing good patients relation service, you will make great dental assistant!!!

Best of luck.

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Aya’s Answer

A dental assistant needs to have knowledge and proficiency in using a variety of instruments & 4 and equipment in a dental office. Some of the instruments that a dental assistant needs to know include:
1. Mouth mirrors: Used to view the oral cavity, teeth, and gums.
2. Probes and explorers: Used to detect tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems.
3. Dental suction: Used to remove excess saliva and water from the oral cavity during dental procedures.
4. Dental handpieces: Used for cutting and shaping teeth and other oral structures.
5. Scalers and curettes: Used for removing tartar and plaque from teeth.
6. Dental radiography equipment: Used to take dental X-rays.
7. Dental impression materials: Used to take impressions of teeth and gums.
8. Dental curing lights: Used to cure dental fillings and other dental restorations.
9. Dental syringes and needles: Used to administer local anesthesia.
In addition to these instruments, a dental assistant may also need to know how to use other specialized instruments and equipment depending on the procedures performed in the dental office. It is important for dental assistants to receive proper training and education in the use of these instruments and equipment to ensure safe and effective patient care.
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Marcelius Levites’s Answer

Dental Assistant Tools

Dental Tray: When you assist the dentist during procedures, you will need to place the right sterile tools on a sterile dental tray. Having the tools in one handy and safe location makes your job easier and more accurate. You can prepare what will be on that tray beforehand depending on what treatment will be performed. For example, you’ll read one set of tools when a hygienist is doing cleaning, and another when the dentist is filling a cavity.

Sickle Probe: Also referred to as a dental explorer, this is one of the most common tools used during an exam. It looks like a metal stick and sometimes has a short hook on one end. Dentists use it to probe teeth as they look for signs of decay, soft spots, and cavities. New developments in dental technology provide alternatives to this method, such as a blunt explorer or probe, but the sickle probe is still one of the most basic and widely used dental tools.

Dental Mirror: Used alongside the sickle probe, a dental mirror is a simple, but critical, tool. It has the same handle as a dental explorer, but it has a small, round mirror at its end. The mirror lets dentists examine teeth and gums from a variety of angles.

Suction Hose: To keep the patient’s mouth clean and dry you will use the suction hose. This instrument removes saliva and small debris or tooth particles from the patient’s mouth and makes it easier for the dentist to see. The suction hose is a flexible white tube attached to a handle.

High-Volume Evacuator: The evacuator looks like the suction hose, but it’s wider. It is used to suction up larger particles and prevents choking hazards, especially during oral surgeries, root canals, and fillings.

Burnisher: Dental burnishers are used during fillings to smooth and polish a tooth restoration. They help the dentist sculpt and mold the amalgam filling so that it seamlessly looks like the rest of the tooth.

Bitewing: As a dental assistant, one of your primary tasks will be to take and process x-rays. Bitewing imagery is a type of x-ray where the patient bites down on tabs that act as sensors or film. They capture signs of tooth decay, gum disease, bone density, and hard-to-see points of view of premolars and molars. The earlier the dentist identifies an onset dental issue, the more likely it can be treated before it becomes a problem.


Marcelius Levites recommends the following next steps:

Pros and Cons
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Khushi’s Answer

Hey, there are so many different instruments that are used daily in practice so heres a few!
1. Dental Tray
Examination Kit - Mirror, Periodontal Probe (measure peridontal pocket depths), Explorer (detect calculus), College Tweezers
Restorative Kit (used for restoring cavities and for fillings) - Flat Plastic, Excavator, Ball Burnisher, Amalgam Plugger
Periodontal Kit - a selection of scalers for different sites in the mouth to remove calculus deposits
The dentist will also use rotary handpieces

2. Radiography - equipment used to take X-Rays to detect for caries, assess tooth and bone morphology
Film, Film Holder, Xray Tube, DPT (panoramic)

3. Suction - to remove excess blood and saliva

4. Impression Materials - used to record and capture the patients dentition for various purposes
Impression stock trays, Alginate, Silicone, Digital Imaging

5. Sterilisation Equipment - autoclave to sterilise instruments

These are just a few examples of different things used in practice but always have a look online/ refer to textbooks to familiarise yourself but with practice and experience you will know of all the different tools off the back of your hand!