Scrape Scrape: Dental Excavators

It is the golden rule of dentristy. Thou shalt get thy teeth cleaned every six months. Many of us go dutifully to the chair and pay our penance. Some people are unnerved by visits to the dentist.


When the hygienist begins her task, one is apt to feel like a mountain being probed by a geologist. The hygienist uses a variety of pick-shaped instruments called dental excavators. Even the name gives chills to the most ardent rock hound. Dental excavators are two sided instruments that are used both to probe teeth for cavities and scrape substances away that cause tooth decay.

This can be a long, arduous process depending on how well one performs his or her oral hygiene. After a long session of scraping with dental excavators, one is apt to pledge loyalty to brush and floss. The plaque and tarter build up can be daunting and if the hygienist has to use these rather primitive instruments for a long session, there will be blood and there will be pain. You can count on it.

There is Hope

The good news is that dental excavators are becoming more sophisticated. Dentist are investing in better equipment and that often includes dental excavators that have a water pick type component. They instruments spray extremely concentrated jets of water on the tooth, much like a water pick, but many times more powerful. This water jet removes more material more quickly thereby shortening one's stay in the dentist chair.


Still one should prepare for some unpleasant drawbacks to these dental excavators. The hygienist will usually start with the conventional instrument. If the amount of work is minimal, it will end with that. But if there is a significant plaque and tarter buildup, the newer, more powerful instrument may be employed.

Unfortunately, tarter and plaque can make teeth sensitive. The hydro-dental excavator is powerful and often can touch those sensitive nerve endings with an exquisite pain. Also, the sound of the motor for this device is similar to the sound of a dentist drill.

While the newer dental excavators can reduce time in the dentist chair, they can also provide more pain. One must decide which is more important, comfort or speed. For those who pull the bandage off at once, the more powerful tool is useful. For those who pull the bandage off little by little, the older, slower technology might be best. Whatever the choice, one must remember that if one visits the dentist with the regularity prescribed, the amount of discomfort goes down exponentially. See your dentist regularly. You'll be glad you did.