- Explorer (dental)
A dental explorer (sickle probe) is an instrument in
dentistrycommonly used in the dental armamentarium. A sharp point at the end of the explorer is used to enhance tactile sensation.
Until recently, it was advised that
dentists use the explorer to determine the presence of toothdecay on tooth enamel. Some dental professionals have questioned this practice. Since enamel is demineralized in the early stages of tooth decay, they argue that the use of an explorer could open a cavity in the enamel where none existed previously. Instead, they argue that fluorideand oral hygieneshould be used to remineralize the enamel and prevent it from decaying further. This debate still continues because sometimes decay can be difficult to diagnose without tactile verification. Additionally, radiographs and products designed to identify decay help the dental professional make a final diagnosis of tooth decay.
There are various types of explorers, though the most common one is the No. 23 explorer, which is also known as a "shepherd's hook". Other types include the 3CH (also known as "cowhorn" or "pigtail") and No. 17 explorers, which are useful for the interproximal areas between teeth.
*Summit, James B., J. William Robbins, and Richard S. Schwartz. "Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry: A Contemporary Approach." 2nd edition. Carol Stream, Illinois, Quintessence Publishing Co, Inc, 2001. ISBN 0-86715-382-2.
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