7 ways to detect calculus

Perio Explorer
I stopped using my perio explorers right after hygiene school, but I came back to them 1-2 years later.  They are the best way to detect calculus blindly.

Hu-Friedy 11/12 perio explorer

Hu-Friedy 11/12 perio explorer

 

Power Scaling Tip (magnetostrictive or piezo)
With a light grip you can feel calculus with the end of the tip (active or inactive, but better when inactive), but this technique does takes practice and experience.

Markell's Burnett Power Tip (25K)

Markell’s Burnett Power Tip (25K)

 

Hand Scaler
Not as good as the perio explorer, but with a light grip, you can feel calculus pretty well, especially with the thinner hand instruments.

American Eagle BlackJack scaler

American Eagle BlackJack scaler

 

Floss
For me, this is a nice final check, especially with anterior teeth

IMG_0216

 

Air
It’s easier to see calculus on dry teeth, especially the “sheet” calculus type.  I also use air to flap back the gums to see into the sulcus or pocket.  The more direct vision you can get, the better.

Standard air/water syringe

Standard air/water syringe

 

Headlight and Loupes
In my opinion, every hygienist should be using a headlight and loupes.  You will see more calculus and miss less, guaranteed. When I combine magnification and a strong light with air I can easily see at least 5mm into pockets in many cases.

Me wearing my Med-Lite 4.5x loupes with a Lumadent headlight

Me wearing my Med-Lite 4.5x loupes with a Lumadent headlight

 

Perioscope
This is a mini camera that goes into the pocket while you scale at the same time.  You can directly see what you are scaling on the computer monitor.  This product is not mainstream at all.  It’s very niche and very expensive at the moment, but hopefully this will become the standard of care in the near future.

Periscope DV2

Periscope DV2

 

Summary
The first six ways will not guarantee that you will never miss calculus (we all do), but it should help to minimize what is left behind.

 

Mark Frias, RDH

 

7 thoughts on “7 ways to detect calculus

  1. Do you recommend the stronger magnification on the loupes then? I purchased mine as a student and sometimes wish the magnification was stronger. I just got what the rep recommended which was something like 2.5x or 3x

    • Hi Irene,

      I do. I recommend at least 3.5x with a headlight, but I personally prefer my 4.5x loupes. Magnification is like a drug : ).

      • Hi I am new to your blog and was wondering if you reviewed loypes and lights. If so which brand is the best. I.e. What things should I look at?

        • I haven’t reviewed any except for my Lumadent headlight, which I highly recommend. Lumadent also sells loupes which will be the next loupes I buy. I currently use Med-lite loupes which work but they are cheap (quality and price).

  2. The explorer you are showing was called the ODU 11/12. The woman that created it is a dental hygienist and she is an amazing individual!!!!

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