What equipment does your dentist use to look after you?

Your Portman dentist has a whole host of equipment to help them look after you and make your experience as pleasant as possible. Here is a guide to some of your dentist’s equipment and what it does.

Mouth mirror

This will almost certainly be used during your visit. Your dentist needs to get a good view of the inside of your mouth, including the back of your teeth. The mirror enables them to see from all angles and help locate any potential problems more easily.

Dental probe

There are a number of different types of probe. Although they can look scary, they are used to explore the mouth and make sure everything is in order. A sickle probe is used to locate any cavities and other  oral issues, while a periodontal probe is used to measure the periodontal pockets and identify any problems, such as gum recession.


Teeth may be hard on the outside but under the enamel they are incredibly sensitive. In order to operate without causing you any pain, your dentist will administer a local anaesthetic to numb your mouth. Some Portman practices now have pain-free sedation, which means you don’t even know your tooth has been numbed. Ask your Portman dentist about this option.

Dental syringe

The dental syringe is used to administer local anaesthetic to numb your teeth and gums so your dentist can perform procedures that might otherwise be painful for you. Syringes are also used to rinse or dry your mouth with water and air respectively, which is necessary for certain procedures. Syringes can feel uncomfortable when administered, but this usually eases a few seconds.

Dental drill

The sound and the vibrations caused by the drill on your teeth may cause an unusual sensation but this is nothing to worry about. The drill is used to remove any decay attached to the tooth before filling in the cavity, although sometimes it is simply for polishing and smoothing the tooth once operating is complete.

Spoon excavator

Sometimes the material in a tooth cavity is soft and therefore no drill is necessary. Spoon excavators are used to remove this kind of decay.


Burnishers are usually used at the end of a procedure to smooth and polish your teeth, or remove scratches. They are often used after dental restorations to tidy up the tooth after the primary procedure.


Scalers are used to remove calculus from above the gum line. Sometimes plaque hardens to the point where it cannot be removed by brushing so it needs to be carefully scraped out with these instruments.


Like scalers, curettes are used for the removal of calculus but they are specially shaped to remove it from below the gum line, without causing any extra damage to the gingiva.

Suction device

During many procedures saliva and debris can build up in the mouth, which can make things difficult for your dentist. Small hoses are used to remove anything obstructing the mouth. 


Sometimes a problem may not be immediately obvious so an x-ray will need to be taken to show a more detailed view of the teeth and bones. Without an x-ray, problems such as early decay are difficult to detect.


One of the most accurate ways to get an impression of the inside of your mouth is to fill a mould with a liquid material and bite down on it. The resulting impression can then be filled with plaster and hardened to create a model of your teeth, including any cavities you may have. These can be used to identify any problems and are also used to create suitable crowns, caps, mouth guards and braces.

Your Portman dentist will talk through any procedure with you prior to treatment, so you feel informed and at ease. If you have any questions about the equipment that will be used during your appointment, don’t hesitate to ask them.

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