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Get a Grip

Jan. 1, 2008
Protecting one’s extremities when the air turns to a gripping arctic freeze is made easier with layers of thick outerwear.

by Karen Kaiser, RDH

Protecting one’s extremities when the air turns to a gripping arctic freeze is made easier with layers of thick outerwear. Wearing gloves, hats, and a scarf when going outside helps keep one cozy and protects against the harsh, wintry elements. Even many of the power tools that are commonly used for snow removal when the weather turns cold have grips to keep hands toasty and comfortable. Heated grips are also available on motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and even snowblowers. These heating elements have circuits built into the grips, which may be attached to insulate the handlebars. Imagine using a snowblower on your driveway or sidewalk to remove snow with a bonus of warm heat for your hands, so you don’t have to hold tight to cold, metal grips.

Grips are also used to protect and keep heat away from fingers. Grips can guard our hands and help us easily maneuver tools. Because dentistry is hands-on, many different types of grips can be incorporated into the products we use daily.

Just as working instruments have grips, dental instruments used in hygiene services can feature ergonomic grips. Miltex Company, makers of the GripLite mirror handle and instrument handles design, reduces hand and wrist fatigue by using silicone grips for the fingers to rest upon. These grips offer tactile sensitivity and comfort on an oversized stainless steel handle and may be safely, conventionally heat sterilized. The GripLite S6 instruments are lightweight. The added grip helps prevent the instrument from rolling off the bracket trays. This anti-roll feature is welcome when multiple instruments are used during treatment procedures and tend to pile during procedures. GripLite instruments also feature a larger handle, size 6 diameter for improved ergonomic use. The color-coded silicone grips help identify and personalize the different types of hand instruments commonly used. Scalers are purple, curettes are lavender, and universal instruments are yellow. Instruments may be grouped by using different color indicators. This coding is especially helpful when there are multiple hygienists using similar tools in different operatories.

Another instrument, the Flexichange, offers a super-soft grip in an exceptionally bright color line. Silicone in the handle gives the instrument’s grip cushion and offers good tactile sensitivity. It is available in 15 vibrant colors. Another option to identify instruments is through color banding placed around instruments. The Signature Series Grips by Hu-Friedy are sterilizable bands made of textured silicone that stay in place around the handles of instruments. They are available in a specified color or in an assorted package.

Grips placed on instruments provide comfort and control. Premier Dental offers ergonomic grips available on ultrasonic power scaler inserts. The Big Easy line offers a resilient silicone grip built in to provide cushion for fingers, and it is designed for a wet environment. Cavitron Bellissima series inserts come in a slim design with a dimple-type grip. These inserts rotate easily for less finger fatigue. The swivel series, also by DENTSPLY Professional, has a soft silicone grip on a larger handle insert to reduce drag from the unit’s hanging supply cord. Coltene/Whaledent has the BioSonic line of OptiMist ultrasonic inserts, which offer rotational control. The ergonomic silicone grip will also relieve hand and wrist stress during use.

It is important to have a proper grip when working with instruments in the mouth. Gloved fingers must not slip easily while working with sharp instruments, which could damage tissues and the clinician. Thankfully glove manufacturers have kept the moisture field in mind when designing exam gloves. Crosstex Friction Grip is a powder-free textured glove. Microflex Diamond Grip glove is powder-free and is also available as Diamond Grip Plus. A fully textured glove, Diamond Grip offers enhanced sensitivity and is available in hand-specific sizes. MicroFlex also makes a new powder-free glove named ComfortGrip, which offers the glove wearer greater stretch comfort. Tillotson Healthcare has an economical, lightly powdered glove as well as a powder-free hand protection glove named Sensi Grip. These gloves have microtextured grip, which helps keep the instrument from slipping between fingers. The Glove Club offers powder-free Pure Grip, which have textured fingers and palms that are wider in the palm region, offering better comfort for the wearer.

One of the products common among hygienists is the disposable prophy angle for cosmetic polishing. Sunstar Butler has a new prophy angle with a soft grip for fingers to rest securely. This cushion grip is set directly into the disposable angle. The green-colored angle has reduced vibration from the soft grip wrapped on the angle and runs up the angle’s backside to the cup, which is identified by a deeper green color. The Eez-Touch prophy angle has a gray cup in both soft and firm and is deeply indented on the inside of the cup and, therefore, may hold a greater quantity of prophy paste. The angle also is available with a brush for easy use on orthodontic brackets and deeper grooves.

For patients who wear dentures, having a snug fit is important. Denture grips are often used to help secure dentures tightly. Super Poli-Grip is a denture adhesive that is placed into the base area of dentures to rest comfortably upon tissues to help avoid gum irritations. When using adhesive, denture wearers will be confident by having the comfort grip strips or original cream added.

Grips are desired items in dentistry. The moist environment of the mouth with which we work would be more challenging to maneuver in if instruments did not have grips to help ensure a stable delivery of care. Slippery saliva on gloves without textured grips on the fingertips may make sharp-edged instruments difficult to hold. For a denture wearer, products with grips can make wearing an ill-fitting denture more comfortable. Warm up to using products and materials that provide a grip.

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The author did not receive compensation for the products mentioned. To get an enhanced grasp on grips, visit the Web at,,,,,,,,, and

About the Author

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis’ Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates. She can be contacted at [email protected].