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1. The Basic Examination and Anesthetic Instruments


a. Mouth Mirrors (Mirror, Mouth Examining). Mouth mirrors (figure 1-8) enable the dental specialist and the dentist
 to see, by reflective vision, surfaces of tissues and teeth, which cannot be seen with direct vision. They aid in reflecting light into dark areas in the mouth so tissues and teeth may be more readily seen. They can be used to retract soft tissues of the cheek, tongue, and lips. There are two general types of mouth mirrors: plane glass mirrors in which the reflected image is the same size as the object being viewed, and magnifying mirrors in which the reflective image provides an enlarged view. The type of mirror used depends on the preference of the dentist
. Mirrors are screwed to their handles at an angle to facilitate viewing and to permit replacement after the mirror has become ineffective.

Figure 1-8. Mouth mirror.

b. Explorers (Explorer, Dental). Explorers (figure 1-9) are sharp, pointed metallic instruments so designed that the various surfaces of teeth may be conveniently reached with the explorer point. Three different explorers are commonly used in the Army Dental Service. One, the number 23 explorer, ends in a semicircle tapering to a point at its distal end. The working end of the other two explorers, numbers 6 and 17, are shorter, straight, and at an angle to the handle. These instruments are used for diagnostic

purposes based on the sense of touch and on mechanical penetration of defects in tooth surfaces. Some diagnostic purposes are: locating caries and enamel defects on the interproximal, occlusal, and other surfaces which are difficult to see by direct vision, locating subgingival calculus, and locating of faulty margins on dental restorations.

Figure 1-9. Explorers.

c. Cotton Pliers (Forceps, Dressing). Cotton pliers (figure 1-10) are tong-like, metallic instruments. The working end of a pair of cotton pliers consists of two tapered opposing portions that form a 60-degree angle with their handle. Cotton pliers are used for handling cotton pellets, cotton rolls, small instruments, or other small items placed into or withdrawn from the mouth. The pliers are also used to carry liquid medication between the closed beaks for deposit in areas of the mouth or teeth.

Figure 1-10. Cotton pliers.

d. Periodontal Probes (Probe, Periodontal). Periodontal probes are non-cutting instruments (figure 1-11) that are used to determine the depth and outline of soft tissue pockets. Most are single-ended; some are double-ended. Periodontal probes have handles, a rounded nib, and a point (or face). The angle of the nib will vary according to the intended use. The nib is marked with graduations that correspond to millimeters.

Figure 1-11. Periodontal probe.

e. Saliva Ejectors (Mouthpiece, Saliva Ejector, Dental). Saliva ejector mouthpieces are made to be attached at one end to the saliva ejector tubing on the dental unit. The other end rests in the mouth for the evacuation of saliva, blood, water, or debris during dental procedures.

f. Pulp Tester (Tester, Pulp, Dental). A pulp tester (figure 1-12) is a standard instrument for use in the oral diagnosis service. This instrument is used to determine the vitality of the tooth being tested by passing a small amount of electrical current from the pulp tester to the tooth. The amount of current necessary to obtain a reaction aids the dental office in determining the vitality of pulp. To perform this procedure, the dentist
 will isolate the tooth to be tested with cotton rolls, and dry the tooth with a warm air syringe. He will apply toothpaste or fluoride gel to the tip of the pulp tester. This paste acts as an electrical conductor and ensures good contact with the tooth. Next, the dentist applies the tip of the pulp tester to the tooth. The tester will automatically start at 0 and slowly increase the current until the tester reads 80. Normally, a vital tooth will respond to the electrical stimulus at some point between 5 and 80. Eighty is the maximum current level on the pulp tester and indicates that the pulp is nonvital. Because of the plastic covering, the tip of the pulp tester should be disinfected and not heat sterilized.

Figure 1-12. Pulp tester.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015