Dental hygienists give an outlook on manual instrumentation

Passionate, thorough, skilled, empathetic… As oral health and prevention specialists, the role of dental hygienists is essential to public health in general. Throughout the years, thanks to scientific research and technical innovations, dental hygiene practice has evolved.

In an anonymous survey conducted by Deppeler between June and August 2022, 31 dental hygienists were asked about their professional experience, their work methods and the role of manual instruments in the latest scaling protocols.

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Participants were asked whether or not they agreed with the following statements, on a scale of 1 to 4:
1 = „strongly disagree with this sentence“, 2 = „somewhat disagree“, 3 = „somewhat agree“, 4 = „strongly agree with this sentence“

94% strongly agree that manual instrumentation is necessary on their tray. and essential for a proper scaling.
55% say scaling can be performed correctly with only manual instruments.
A majority of respondants underline that manual instruments can be tricky to use.

According to 3/4 of participants, manual instruments are complementary to machines during a treatment.
77% agree that narrow areas can’t all be reached with a machine.
All  respondants say manuals instruments give them the tactile feedback needed to eliminate residual tartar after using the machine.

74% of respondents participants don’t consider using manual instruments as invasive.
For 68% of participants, the risk of over-instrumentation is not significant.
According to 81% of participants, using manual instruments can be uncomfortable for the patient. 26% also believe it can scare the patient.


  • Dental hand instruments remain an integral and indispensable part of scaling procedures to achieve effective and complete treatments.
  • The survey highlights the importance of training and continuing education for practitionners to make the most out of the available tools.
  •  Although ultrasonic scalers seem easier for the patient to tolerate, hand scalers and curettes aren’t considered an invasive technique. Especially used on combination with machines, the risk of over-instrumentation isn’t significant.
  •  Patients‘ common anxiety about going to the dentist underlines the importance of being able to explain the procedures to reassure them.


  1. „Manual instruments“ includes scalers, curettes, explorer and probes.
  2. „Machine“ stands for ultrasonic and/or air-polishing machines from all brands. 100% of participants have declared that they use machines during a standard scaling procedure.
  3. „Manual instru.“ and „M.i.“ stand for „manual instrumentation“.