Our Dental Tools and What They Do

Overhead view of a bunch of dental tools.

To many people, all the dental tools in a dental office may seem like shots or drills, but there are actually many more tools than these. There are tools called the “sickle probe”, the “scaler” and even the small mouth mirror as well. The type of procedure you are receiving will determine what type of tool is used on your mouth. See if you have seen some of the dental tools we are describing and what procedures they are used for!

Dental Tools During a Dental Cleaning

When you picture a dental office, you probably picture machines and dental tools that are used. Many of these are used throughout the year, but most are not used with every patient at every appointment. The reason for your visit will determine what dental tools we need to use for your situation. Here are common dental tools used during dental cleanings:

  • Mouth Mirror: This is a small, round mirror attached to the end of a skinny metal, hand-held rod. A mouth mirror can fit inside your mouth and will allow a dentist to see hard-to-reach areas as they perform their work.
  • Sickle Probe: A sickle probe looks scary because it is a metal and pointy hook at the end of a hand-held metal rod. That point at the end of the hook is used to scrape off plaque between the teeth. It’s also used to look into gingival pockets and to test different areas of the teeth and mouth for decay and sensitivity.
  • Scaling Tool: This is a hook-like tool that is primarily used to remove plaque and mineralized plaque (tartar) from the teeth. Before your dental polishing, a dental hygienist will remove stuck plaque and food particles from common decay areas in the mouth. They may use this tool after your teeth are professional brushed and polished.
  • Polisher: This is similar to a dental brush, but it spins rapidly, cleaning the teeth, while also buffing them to a shine.
  • Suction Device/Water Shooter: These devices look very similar as both are skinny tubes with a white tip. One can spray water on your teeth to remove debris, while another sucks up the debris so you don’t swallow it.
  • Impression Mold: Some patients will have impressions made of their teeth using a goo-like substance. The goo is placed in a mouth tray and the patient bites down on the material for about 60 seconds. This creates a mold so retainers and dental devices can be custom-made.


Tooth model surrounded by dental items such as a toothbrush, polisher and more.

Dental Tools with Procedures

  • Dental Syringe: The dental syringe is one of the first things a patient will have in their mouth when they have a tooth decay or gum disease procedure. The area will first be numbed with an anesthetic cream, then a dental syringe is used to transfer anesthetic medicine to an area to numb it.
  • Laughing Gas: Many patients don’t like the use of shots for anesthesia. This is why some rooms with have a machine with various knobs and a mask with it. This is where nitrous oxide comes out, which is a gas mixture that helps relax patients.
  • Dental Drill: This is one of the most common dental tools patients think of. It is a high-powered rotating device that can drill away ares of the teeth that are decayed or blocking decay. This is only used in procedures outside of dental cleanings and exams, such as drilling away a part of the tooth in order to remove decay.
  • Bonding: Bonding is the process of mixing substances together that will create a paste. That paste is used to shape a new area of your tooth that has been drilled away so we can fill an area damaged by decay. This bonding hardens and is sturdy just like a real tooth.
  • Root Canal Brush: To clean deep within the tooth roots, an almost-microscopic brush is used to reach deep into tooth root canals and remove debris and infection. Think of it as a tiny bristled brush that catches small particles.

Woman that is looking at the camera with her toothbrush while a man in the background brushes his teeth.

What Dental Tools Should You Have?

The majority of people don’t have office dental tools at home, but they do need dental tools of some sort to keep their mouths healthy. You have your own tools at home already (or we hope you do). These include toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, retainers, and any other device associated with keeping your mouth clean.


The American Dental Association recommends that every person (even infants) should brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. You will need a toothbrush that fits the size and shape of your mouth, as they come in different sizes for infants, children, teens and adults. Patients also want to invest in good toothpaste, which can be used to combat tooth decay, gum disease, problems with bad breath and more, right in your own home.


Another dental tool you need is floss. Floss is important because the action of flossing reaches at least 40% of your tooth surfaces that brushing is likely to miss. When people don’t have floss or don’t use it, they leave themselves open to decay. If you want to remove decay-causing plaque and bacteria even more, you can invest in mouthwash fortified with fluoride. That is a strengthening compound that can help remineralize your teeth. If you wear any retainers or dental devices as prescribed, these can also be amazing tools at keeping your smile straight for life.


Invest in Good Dental Tools

Our dental tools can attack plaque and decay that want to destroy your mouth. However, your hygiene dental tools at home can help prevent those problems in the first place. To know what you should have in your oral hygiene arsenal and what brands we trust, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-6101!