What is a dental explorer?

A dental explorer is an oral health instrument that a dentist uses during a clinical examination of a patient. This type of tool features a sharp, pointed end and is used to find soft spots or holes in the teeth caused by decay. Various versions of this instrument are useful for detecting problems in different areas of a tooth. In addition, explorers allow dentists to find hard food deposits under the gums, which can cause health problems.

The dental explorer comes in a relatively simple form. It has a long, thin handle that usually features a rough area towards the top to make it easier to grip. Additionally, the scout features a thin, curved head with a very sharp point at the end. This point is designed to increase a dental professional's ability to use tactile sensation to identify physical problems in the mouth.

A primary purpose of this type of health care instrument is to detect the presence of a cavity, an area of ​​a tooth in which decay has occurred due to the presence of plaque or soft food deposits that have not been removed by brushing. . Acid forms within this layer of debris and eats into the surface of an individual's tooth, forming a hole called a cavity. The dental explorer is considered an examination instrument and therefore is usually included with a mouthpiece and a periodontal probe, an item used to measure the depth of the gum pockets around the teeth, in a basic tray configuration. dental.

Various versions of these tools are available for use as well. For example, the sickle probe, also known as a shepherd's hook explorer or number 23 explorer, is the most common type of dental explorer. It is most effective at finding areas of decay on the chewing surfaces of the teeth or on the parts of the teeth that face the tongue or cheek. Also, other scouts have heads shaped like pig tails or even horns on cows. These specialized instruments are useful for detecting cavities between the teeth.

Explorer instruments are also useful in determining the health of the area of ​​a tooth between the roots, which are embedded in the bone. A dentist probes this area, called the furcation area, using a dental explorer by simply inserting the instrument below the gum line. Your goal is to see if tartar, which is the hardened version of plaque, is present there. Tartar causes the gums around the teeth to swell and the bone to resorb, causing the teeth to become loose.

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