10 Most Common Orthodontic Instruments


Dental students need to know every facet and purpose of orthodontic instruments.

You’ve got to be at the very least a master of your own domain when it comes to your familiarity with every minute detail of function and your own efficient and comfortable confidence with them while performing your procedures. You must master all this before you hit the ground running in your chosen field of orthodontia.

Here’s a swift and thorough explanation of orthodontia’s most common instruments. Bookmark this page and keep it handy. You never know when you’re going to need just a little reminder. We’ve narrowed the most used instruments down to ten. Take a look. And then take your knowledge back to school, and eventually your own practice.

Your No-Muss, No-Fuss
Ortho Instrument Dictionary

1. Dental Mirrors

Allows dentists and dental assistants to view a mirror image of those teeth located so far in the back of the mouth that their visibility is either very difficult or impossible to examine with the naked eye.

2. Periodontal Probes

Usually long, thin and outfitted with a blunted end to relieve patient discomfort—is primarily used to measure pocket depths around the tooth to determine the health of the surrounding specialized tissues that both surround and support the teeth.

3. Cotton Pliers

Resembling tweezers, cotton pliers are used to grasp and retrieve small objects in the mouth and to place cotton when isolating teeth during procedures.

4. Orthodontic Pliers

Designed for grasping auxiliary attachments inside the mouth, orthodontic pliers are outfitted with tips rounded  tips for comfort and safety. They are often serrated for superior grip. They may be angled, curved, offset or straight.

5. Wire Cutter/Pin and Ligature Cutters

Comprised of two tapered beaks rounded out by sharp cutting-ends, the wire cutter/pin and ligature cutter is used to cut stainless steel ligatures  tied to the arch wire. The arch wire conforms to the mouth’s natural dental arch and can be used with dental braces to correct irregularities in the position of the teeth.

6. Distal End Cutters

Comprised of two cutting surfaces angled to the right of the instrument’s axis, distal end cutters are used to slice through and remove the terminal end of a ligated arch wire.

7. Bite Sticks

Orthodontists use this device to apply your normal bands and to seat molar bands.The orthodontist puts the band in place and has the patient bite down on the stick to help push the band in place.

8. Posterior Band Removers

A specialized plier orthodontists use to remove bands from your teeth.

9. Cheek Retractors

These small plastic pieces are used to draw back your lips and cheeks so the orthodontist can access your mouth and better see your teeth while they are working.

10. Band Removers

A specialized plier orthodontists use to remove bands from your teeth.


6 Ways to Shut Down Your Dental Phobia

Afraid of the Dentist?

Does your heart start to race even when you make the appointment? Do you feel like you might need sedation as soon as you enter the office? Does the mere word “drill” fill you with dread?Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Here are a few tips to help you deal.

1. Communicate Your Fears.

What they don’t know can only hurt you. So speak up. Dental anxiety is extremely common. Dentists want to know about your fears. So tell them. Express you specific fears about a certain procedure, or fill them in on the fact that you’re mortally terrified of just sitting in a dentist’s chair and that’s why this is your first dental appointment in five years.  The more clearly you communicate, the better the staff can help you. They will listen carefully, assure you that your concerns are valid, and explain clearly and carefully just what to expect. Whether they teach you some breathing techniques or just hand you an eye pillow or tell you (good) jokes, the staff wants you to feel comfortable and will do whatever they can to assuage your fears.

2. Try Biofeedback Before Your Visit.

Biofeedback is designed to help you control your body’s stress signals—such as heavy sweating, short breath and racing heart—by connecting electrical sensors to your body and the biofeedback machine.

During the session, electrical sensors help you receive information (feedback) about your body (bio), and let you see what your nervous system looks like in a calm state as well as when you’re under stress.

According to WebMd, “The idea behind biofeedback is that, by harnessing the power of your mind and becoming aware of what’s going on inside your body, you can gain more control over your health.” Therapists will offer you a wide array of ways to control your stress reactions so you can remain as calm as possible when you face your fears—like going to the dentist, for example.

3. Speak Up for Yourself in the Dentist Chair

When you’re in the dentist chair, keep advocating for yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Let your dentist know how you are feeling, no matter how trivial your concern may seem. Many dentists ask you to do this anyway, like requesting you raise your hand to signal for them to pause. If this doesn’t come up, broach the subject and come up with an agreed-upon communication plan before the procedure begins. This way you have a chance to explain that you are in pain, uncomfortable, have a question, need a break,  need to adjust or readjust yourself in the chair or anything else you feel the dentist needs to know

4. Customize Your Dental Sessions.

For some people, it is overwhelming to even think about getting through an entire dental procedure.  Well, you do not have to complete everything in one session.  Unless it’s impossible, your dentist will break up the procedure into plausible sessions to accommodate your request.  Remember that you are the client and you can advocate for yourself. You may also consider just taking a break and pausing for a few moments to refresh yourself before moving forward to the next portion of the procedure. Take a moment to take a few breaths to calm your nerves and then continue on with the procedure.

5. Distract Yourself.

Bring headphones and listen to music or watch a movie to block out sound. Bring a book. Just bring something that will allow you to focus deeply on something THAT IS NOT THE DENTAL PROCEDURE.  That way you can listen to music or watch a movie or read a book to distract yourself and keep your mind off the dental procedure.  Also, some dental offices have a TV or music playing in the background for this very reason. Such distractions ease your anxiety and put you in a calm state of mind.

6. Ask About Medication Options.

Lastly, there is medication.  For certain procedures, some sort of sedation is required.  For patients who have more extreme anxiety, medication may be the answer. There are types of medication that can be prescribed to alleviate anxiety and allow you to feel rested and comfortable. Ask your dentist if medication is right for you.


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