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Light up your life

Jan. 1, 2010
Ultrasonic instrumentation benefits from a brighter view
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Ultrasonic instrumentation benefits from a brighter view

by Debra Grant, RDH, CA

Have you ever wondered what was behind the distal of #15? Clinicians have utilized ultrasonic instrumentation for years to debride calculus and break up biofilm. Often, we have relied on our tactile senses along with hoping and guessing that we removed it all in the difficult retromolar area.

Clinician no longer have to guess or wonder anymore with the latest in ultrasonic technologies that “light the way.” From piezo units with a light built into the handpiece to the newest addition, a magnetostrictive inserts with a light, clinicians now have the ability to enhance visibility in the oral cavity.

I personally use Discus Dental's Insight™ ultrasonic as I prefer a magnetostrictive (Cavitron) ultrasonic unit. Discus has taken focused illumination to another level by adding a light that encircles the insert tip. The light is powered through the ultrasonic unit and requires no additional power source

Features and Tips

• Posterior illumination — When using the Supragingival #10 or 1000 insert on the distal of the molars, clinicians can actually see tissue color which helps in assessing the health of the patient's gingiva. The vestibule is lit up as clinicians guide their fingers along the inside of the lip. Surprising black calculus is flushed out of the retro molar area that was once thought completely free of debris.

Generally, I work in the dark. It is easier on the patient's eyes during their Oraspa™ maintenance visit. (Oraspa is a relaxation technique included in a spa prophy, For those of us who work with the overhead lights off, the contrast of the illumination intraorally has no match for the quality of vision that the Insight provides.

Try this tomorrow in your office. Turn off the fluorescent lighting and depend on only your dental light, view box, computer monitor, or indirect lamps for light. Your patients will welcome the change.

As for the overhead lights, we should all be working without fluorescent lighting. It depletes the serotonin from our bodies and makes us even more tired at the end of the day ( The answer with the Insight has been an eye saver.

The subgingival #10L Thin and #10R Thin inserts have the perfect angle to curve into the distals and mesials of the molars and premolars with focused illumination — not to mention that the swivel on the shank is ergonomically helpful and allows fluid control throughout the mouth.

• Sublingual posterior — Many of our patients who have gained weight or have missing teeth in the posterior region develop enlarged sublingual tissue. It is difficult to get access with an instrument, let alone an ultrasonic, in the lingual area of the molars. We fight the over-exercised tongue muscle and begin another guessing game at removing all of the calculus, sometimes pinching the tissue and causing discomfort to the patient. Access with the Insight lights up the sublingual area — that I really never thought of as being dark — and grants me the opportunity to see verything I need to in order to remove the debris. Once again, lighting up the tissue color and allowing me to better assess my oral cancer screening.

The revelation of these benefits with the light have changed the way I practice and my peers are happy to agree.

• The tongue — Now that we have removed the biofilm from the teeth, there is another component that needs our attention — the tongue, especially the posterior third of the tongue near the circumvallate papilla where biofilm and bacteria that produce volatile sulfur compounds collect. Our patients walk out of our offices with their teeth feeling clean, but we are short-changing them. I say, “Leave it to Beaver.” The Beavertail Insight insert has an amazing capability of removing all of the biofilm from the tongue. Clinicians can simultaneously irrigate, using different angles on the Beavertail from the tip to the ultrasensitive side of the insert. If used in conjunction with a nonalcohol mouthwash and tongue spray, patients feel completely refreshed and will never have “just their teeth cleaned” again. They now know what a completely disinfected mouth feels like.

• Children and ultrasonics — What about using ultrasonics on children? Deplaquing has benefits for patients of all ages and yet sometimes we may avoid use of powered instrumentation because it may frighten our younger patients.All children deserve the benefits of ultrasonics.

I found that kids love technology. I introduce my mini-patients to the ultra cool “mini-light stick,” just like Luke Skywalker. I give them a mirror and let them watch me use the vibrating light stick to remove all of the plaque on their teeth. They love it! They run into the reception room to tell their moms about the cool tool that cleaned their teeth!

Innovation: Optimal Instrumentation

The latest innovation in ultrasonic inserts has opened up an entirely new experience for patients and clinicians alike. The ability to enhance visibility while maintaining good ergonomic positioning will go a long way in increasing patient acceptance and clinician postural health. As with any new technology, savvy clinicians understand the importance of firsthand experience. For those utilizing ultrasonic units, you can now experience the full benefits of “enlightened” optimal powered instrumentation!

About the Author

Debra Grant, RDH, CA, is owner of Oraspa, Inc. Debra is a national speaker on various subjects dealing with complementary and alternative dentistry and dental hygiene. She also serves on the Illinois State Dental Board. You may reach Debra at [email protected] or