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Black's Instrument Formula

Describes the angulations and dimensions.

Hand Instrument Design

Handle (operator grasps), Shank (attaches working end to handle), Working End (specific function).

Instrument Classification (4 categories)

Exam, Hand-cutting, Restorative, Accessory.

Exam Instruments

Used to examine health status of oral cavity. (Mouth Mirror, Explorer, Cotton Pliers, Periodontal Probe)

Mouth Mirror

Exam: Indirect vision, light reflection, retraction, tissue protection.


Exam: Distinguish calculus, decay and discrepancies on teeth.

Cotton Pliers

Exam: Carry, retrieve, and place small objects.

Periodontal Probe

Exam: Measure sulcus or pocket depth of the perodontium.

Hand cutting Instruments

Manually remove decay, smooth, finish, prepare tooth to be restored back to normal function. (Excavator, Hoe, Chisel, Hatchet, Gingival Margin Trimmer)


Hand Cutting: Remove soft dentin, debris, and decay from tooth. (most common: spoon excavator, black spoon)


Hand Cutting: Plane walls and floors of tooth prep. (push-pull action)


Hand Cutting: Cut enamel margin of tooth prep, form sharp lines, point angles, and place retention grooves. (Straight, Bin-angle, Wedelstaedt , and Angle-former chisel)


Hand Cutting: Cut enamel and smooth walls & floors of tooth prep.

Gingival Margin Trimmer

Hand Cutting: Cut enamel and place bevels along gingival enamel margins of the prep.

Restorative Instruments

Used to place, condense, and carve dental material to original anatomy of tooth structure. (Amalgam carrier, Condenser, Burnisher, Carvers, Amalgam Knife, Composite, Woodson)

Amalgam Carrier

Restorative: Double-ended instrument with wells on both ends to pack fresh amalgam in & carry to prepped tooth.


Restorative: Condense (pack down) fresh placed amalgam into the preparation. (flat end that are smooth or serrated)


Restorative: Used to smooth the surface of fresh placed amalgam restoration. (Ball, Football, T-shaped, Beavertail)


Restorative: Remove excess material, contour surfaces, and carve anatomy back into amalgam or intermediate restoration b4 it hardens. (Discoid-cleoid for occlusal, Hollenback to remove excess material)

Amalgam Knife

Restorative: Used to remove excess material along margin where material and tooth structure meet; most commonly interproximal.

Composite Placement Instrument

Restorative: Made to place composite restorative materials to prevent scratching the composite material made of anodized aluminum or Teflon. (Plastic composite instrument, Metal composite instrument)

The Woodson or FP-1

Restorative: Double-ended, one end is a paddle for carrying material to prepared tooth, other end is a nib that resembles a condenser. Made of hard plastic or stainless steel.

Accessory Instruments

Miscellaneous instruments that may be needed for many uses to complete a procedure. (Spatulas, Scissors, Amalgam well, Howe pliers, Articulating paper & holder)


Accessory: Used for most every procedure when dental material is involved. (Cement & Impression material spatulas)


Accessory: Used for cutting dental dam material, retraction cord, and stainless steel crowns. (Crown & Bridge scissors)

Amalgam well

Accessory: Where newly mixed amalgam is placed and retrieved from.

Howe pliers (110 pliers)

Accessory: Useful for holding items, carrying cotton products to and from oral cavity, removing matrix band, and placing/removing wedge.

Articulating Paper & Holder

Accessory: Carbon paper held by holder to check "bite".

Instrument Sequence on Tray

Left to right. 1) Basic set-up, 2) additional Exam instruments, 3)Hand cutting, 4) Restorative, 5) Accessory

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