Practicing on the ‘cutting edge’

Sept. 1, 2011
If you’re anything like me – and I suspect that you are – you love using a brand new curette.

by Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH
[email protected]

If you’re anything like me – and I suspect that you are – you love using a brand new curette. There’s just nothing like the feel of that incredibly sharp blade as you engage the edge of a calculus deposit. You feel great satisfaction as you smooth away debris from the root surface in only a few strokes because your instrument is so sharp. Well, you get the picture; there is no need for me to go on except to tell about a new sharpening stone I have been using that’s keeping me on the "cutting edge" of my curettes.

Created by New Edge Technologies, the autoclavable Gold Edge Sharpener is a new and innovative synthetic dental sharpener. The performance of the Gold Edge Sharpener has to do with the way it’s made. Synthetic sharpeners are made with "pressed grit powder," which is formed into shape and then fired. New Edge Technologies takes it a step further and infuses their stone with resin, which results in:

  • A harder surface, less likely to groove, maintaining an even surface for proper blade angulation.
  • A sharpener that will not absorb water or contaminants.
  • A sharpener that easily cleans up with water.
  • A sharpener that produces little or no dust during use.

The rounded channels on the side of the stone are my favorite feature; they make it easy to maintain a well-rounded toe on my curettes. The Gold Edge Sharpener also has radius sides to make sharpening concave surfaces a quick and easy step. Check out the Gold Edge Sharpener at While you’re there, be sure to watch the short video on how easy it is to use this amazing sharpening stone.

Ensuring that your ultrasonic instruments are in top shape is just as important as keeping your hand instruments sharp. Many hygienists use ultrasonic instrumentation all day every day but rarely take the time to check insert or tip efficiency. Using an insert or tip that has been reduced to the point it is no longer efficient is the equivalent of your dentist trying to prep a tooth with no cutting edge left on the bur; it’s just a waste of time and energy.

All manufacturers of ultrasonic instruments provide efficiency cards free of charge. It’s essential that once a month each ultrasonic tip or insert be evaluated against the efficiency card. To save time, the instruments that read in the "caution" or "need to be replaced soon" zone should be banded with yellow, allowing you to quickly check them the following month for potential replacement. Managing your inserts and tips in this way also allows you to plan for the purchase of replacements one or two at a time instead of all at once.

When you find replacement of your Slimlines to be necessary, try the new Focus Spray Slimline 1000 by Dentsply. You have probably used the FSI-1000 gross debridement insert, which is one of my favorites for subgingival calculus removal. Like the FSI-1000, the Slimline 1000 has a triple bend design, allowing for excellent access around line angles, providing quick and efficient calculus removal. In addition, the Slimline 1000 can be used at all power levels for maximum performance and patient comfort.

Ask your supply rep about the new Focus Spray Slimline 1000 or visit to learn more.

Practicing on the "cutting edge" also means thinking outside the box when it comes to the patients’ best interest. More and more nonsurgical periodontal therapy treatment plans are including DNA-PCR salivary diagnostics, which typically indicate the need for a systemic antibiotic to eliminate tissue invasive periodontal pathogens.

Following the adjunctive use of systemic antibiotics, we should consider asking the patient to repopulate their oral cavity with good bacteria. ProBiora3 by Oragenics is a patented blend of three beneficial bacteria naturally present in healthy mouths, including Streptococcus oralis KJ3, Streptococcus uberis KJ2, and Streptococcus rattus JH145. This blend of probiotics supports gum and tooth health while promoting fresher breath and whiter teeth.

Based on research begun more than 30 years ago by Dr. Jeffrey D. Hillman, Oragenics’ founder and chief scientific officer, ProBiora3 represents a new application of probiotics that support overall oral health. There are four oral care consumer products that feature the ProBiora3 technology. Each product utilizes different ratios of the three natural strains of beneficial bacteria to suit intended use of the product.

EvoraPro is professionally dispensed through a partner program; EvoraPlus, EvoraKids and EvoraPet are available over the counter. Visit to learn more about oral probiotics, watch a free webinar on the topic and find a listing of retail and online stores that carry Oragenics products.

Our friends at GC America are coming out with a new product this fall, reportedly in November, called GC Tri Plaque ID Gel. Talk about cutting edge; this disclosing gel turns low-risk fresh plaque red, while high-risk mature plaque turns purple. Extra high caries-risk mature and strong acid-producing plaque turns into light blue, allowing both the patient and the clinician to evaluate the effectiveness of home care efforts and assess potential caries risk.

The Tri Plaque ID Gel contains sucrose and pigments that penetrate and stain the plaque biofilms. When a biofilm is newly forming, it’s sparse and only traps the red pigment, turning the biofilm red. When a biofilm is maturing (>48 hours), its structure becomes dense and therefore traps both the red and blue pigments, turning the biofilm purple.

The sucrose in the Tri Plaque Gel is metabolized by any acidogenic bacteria present in the biofilm and lowers the pH (

Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH, is the co-founder of, which provides current oral systemic research summaries and patient education downloads. She speaks internationally, provides hands-on training, writes articles and webinars, and practices dental hygiene in Redding, Calif. Contact her at [email protected].

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