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What are Those Dental Tools the Hygienist is Using?
Apr 29, 2020

The shiny silver instruments on the tray are a critical part of the dental hygienist’s work. But what ARE they? You probably can see several tools as you lean back, but it’s tough to get a good view.

Many people feel uneasy at the dentist; information sometimes helps put people at ease. This infographic shows four standard tools that we use and what they do.


Dental curettes are used to remove plaque and other deposits from your gumline. By using the curved part of the tool, we can scoop up hidden particles.

Hand Scaler

Similar to a curette, a hand scaler is used to remove plaque and other deposits from your actual tooth. By gently scraping the hand scaler’s tip onto the tooth, we can remove buildup that has occurred over time. It is also used to remove any buildup that may be wedged in a smaller crevice in between teeth.


After using both the curette and hand scaler, dental hygienists use a polisher to clean up your teeth. This is most similar to a regular toothbrush, but more high powered to give your teeth an extra deep cleaning. Combined with a small amount of toothpaste, the polisher works to remove the plaque that was loosened by the hand scaler.

Ultrasonic Scaler

Although not all dentists used ultrasonic scalers, they are used to remove any additional tarter that could not be removed by a curette or a hand scaler. Tarter is a form of plaque that forms right around the gum line, and it can be more difficult to remove. Ultrasonic scalers combine electricity to get rid of the tarter.

Although these are not the only tools used, these are definitely some you’ll see at many dentist offices. Now that you know more about the tools used by your dentist, you can better understand what goes into deep cleaning for your teeth.

Contact us to book your next appointment at one of our seven North Carolina locations.