Diamonds of their days: Products that are team members' best friends

We asked assistants and hygienists from around the nation, including editorial opinion leaders from Modern Dental Assistant and Modern Hygienist, to tell us what products made their days easier and made their patients happier. Here’s what they said.

While the dentist may be the person who gets the most attention at dental trade shows, it’s frequently the hygienists and assistants who use the products in the practice and often have a lot of say in what might or might not be used on a daily basis and in the future.

Knowing that, we asked assistants and hygienists from around the nation, including editorial opinion leaders from Modern Dental Assistant and Modern Hygienist, to tell us what products made their days easier and made their patients happier. Here’s what they said:


Hunter works at a busy, growing practice in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, and says that three products from Ivoclar Vivadent help make her day go smoothly.

“I love OptraSculpt Pads and OptraSculpt,” Hunter said. “Ivoclar Vivadent knows how to sculpt composites. I love both of these little inventions. First, OptraSculpt Pads are little foam pads that attach to a handle. They are interchangeable and come in two sizes. These soft little pads are perfect for sculpting composite restorations. They leave no marks and they won’t stick. There is no pullback on these. They are absolutely perfect for use in shaping and contouring composites. For anterior composite work, there is nothing better.

“Next there is OptraSculpt. This is a modeling instrument that makes working with anterior or posterior composites a breeze. The handle holds one of six different working ends that are disposable. These elastic tips range from anything to a spatula to a point, making sculpting and contouring composites easy. And just like OptraSculpt Pads, these won’t stick or allow any pullback. Use either of these products once and you’ll be hooked!

“I also love Optragate. It’s a retractor that allows for easy access when scanning, placing bands or brackets, cementing anterior restorations, placing anterior composites or a number of other procedures! It’s made of a soft, latex-free material that is comfortable for the patient to wear. It’s easy to put into place and it stays put. I love it because I can place cotton rolls in it or use dry angles to help with isolation. It’s a simple little product that allows for big help in the operatory!”

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Linda Dawli, CDA

Dawli says that one product helps to keep her extremely busy day in focus.

“Running a clinic with 30 different dental professionals can be challenging, but Zirc makes it more manageable and organized,” she said. “The E-Z jett dental instruments cassette provides a great solution to store all dental instruments and products. They are easily stackable and a breeze to clean. A more organized clinic means more efficiency and productivity for everyone in the dental clinic.”

For more information, visit

Jenn Byers

Byers, of Granville, Ohio, was quick to answer when asked about a product that made her day easier.

“Sani-Soak Ultra is a great, cost-efficient product,” she said. “We find this cleaner to be gentle, yet very effective in cleaning our instruments and burs. We love the ease of use and the great scent to start our mornings!”

For more information, visit


Angela Severance, RDA, CDD

Severance, who is founder of, said there are two products that rank high on her list.

“Knit-Pak by Premier Dental is my retraction cord of choice!” she remarked. “It has a very unique braiding or ‘knit’ property that offers the highest absorbency of sulcular fluid while simultaneously providing exceptional gingival tissue retraction properties. When used in correlation with Premier’s Traxodent, it is an almost guarantee that optimal gingival tissue requirements, which are imperative to successful digital impressions, will be achieved. Premier also offers Knit-Pak+, an impregnated retraction cord.

“Additionally, Monobond Etch & Prime by Ivoclar Vivadent takes the two-step process of the 5 percent hydrofluoric acid etch and glass-ceramic primer (silane) to the intaglio surface of a chairside restoration into one. Not only does this save time, it also eliminates the probability of over-etching which can decrease the final bond strength. No longer do we need to expose ourselves to the highly caustic 5 percent hydrofluoric acid etch and timers (timing of acid etch is vital and varies per material). Rather, place the Monobond Etch & Prime on the restoration, agitate for 20 seconds and let sit for 40 seconds, rinse and dry. That’s one minute total, one step, no mess and no decrease in bond strength!”

For more information on Knit-Pak, visit For more information on Monobond Etch & Prime, visit

Kara Vavrosky, RDH
“When you think of all the different dental products you use, a tray probably isn’t at the top of your list. At the same time,  it’s something you use every day, with every patient,” the Oregon-based Vavorsky said. “What’s more, your use of a tray is  probably leading to an OSHA violation and you don’t even realize it.

“Zirc’s B-Lok Tray and locking cover solves this problem. After your instruments and items have been sterilized, putting them into a tray with a locking cover keeps everything protected until it’s time to use them. After you’ve used them, putting the items back into the tray and locking the cover helps prevent cross-contamination and provides safe transportation back to the sterilization area. While a tray may not be the most exciting product you use during the day, it’s a critical component regarding instrument transfer and OSHA compliance.”

For more information on B-Lok trays and covers, check out

Stacy Walk, RDH

Walk is early in her career in Tulsa, Oklahoma yet she knows the value of ergonomics and finding products that can help her day be pain-free.

“Ergonomics is one of my top concerns as a full-time hygienist who is just getting started in her career,” Walk said. “I have plans to be a hygienist for many years and I choose to ask for products from my employer, periodontist Trung Tran, to make this a reality.

“My #4 HD cone socket double sided mirror from Hu-Friedy is responsible for my ability to have proper posture in my neck and shoulders while probing, and debridement. My 12 UNC Colorvue probe kit is also partly responsible for my good posture while probing because I am not leaning in to see the readings. I can quickly and accurately see the reading in an instant and move on.

“There is also the added bonus of the feedback I am getting from my patients. They are reporting more comfort from the plastic probes than the metal ones we were previously using.

“We also place implants and manage implantitis at my office and plastic probes are the best choice of tool to examine and check the level of disease around an implant. Implants continue to become a more popular option for replacement of missing teeth; we as hygienists need to be prepared with the correct equipment to ensure the best maintenance and care of these implants.”

Angela Scott, RDH

Also in Tulsa, Okla., Scott says that with today’s busy schedules, being able to work in a timely yet efficient manner is of

utmost importance. That’s why she highly recommends a pair of Hu-Friedy products: the Colorvue probes and the Nevi 4 posterior scaler with Ever Edge Technology.

“The Colorvue probe provides accurate readings quickly with the ease of color coding of green for healthy 3mm or less pockets and registering in red areas that are deeper and need further attention. The flexible plastic tips also provide patient comfort during the dreaded perio screening process,” Scott said. “I absolutely love the Nevi 4 posterior scalers with the Ever Edge Technology. It reaches the distal aspect of the second molars and hard to reach areas with ease!”

For more information, visit

Related reading: A clinician reviews 3M ESPE's Clinpro 5000 anti-cavity toothpaste

Stephanie Eddy, RDH

Like many hygienists, Eddy is on a crusade to get rid of caries.

“Dental caries is a chronic, infectious disease that is prevalent all over the United States. According to the CDC, dental caries remains the most common chronic disease of children aged 6-11 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years,” Eddy said. “With the increasing amount of gummy snacks, sugary foods and sugary drinks, we have seen a huge rise in dental decay diagnosis in our pediatric practice. Kids are not the most efficient at brushing their teeth, so this type of food (sticky and sweet) can be very harmful to the teeth.”

Eddy says patients’ inefficiencies at brushing have caused their practice to become very proactive.

“Every patient in our practice is evaluated and educated on their risk of dental decay,” Eddy said. “For example, if you have had a recent filling, wear braces or use certain medicines that dry out your mouth, you are at increased risk for getting a cavity.”

When asked about her favorite product to help battle caries, it didn’t take long for Eddy to reply.

“Clinpro™ 5000 1.1 Sodium Fluoride Anti-Cavity Toothpaste from 3M is our go-to product for at-home oral hygiene care for our patients who are at an increased risk for decay,” she said. “It is an easy and convenient product that is designed to replace your toothpaste at home. This eliminates any unnecessary extra steps in the hygiene routine and is an effective medicament for the prevention and control of dental caries.”

For more information, visit

Karen Seibert, RDH, MA

Seibert says that the XP Technology provided by American Eagle Instruments are critical for her and her patients.

“Sometimes clinical days are filled with pockets full of calculus that we just cannot access,” Seibert said. “Fat, dull hand instruments can keep us from doing our best work, even when taking our time. This was a common frustration in my practice until I found XP Technology, a revolutionary hand instrument made using a proprietary manufacturing process. XP Technology is manufactured by enhancing the metallurgic composition of the instrument surface, giving it the properties of a much more durable material. For the first time, my hand instrument blade is retaining factory edge angulation throughout its lifetime without sharpening. No more worry about dulling edges during treatment or an incorrectly sharpened working blade burnishing calculus into the root surface. Eureka! Consistent, quality patient care is possible.

“An XP Technology instruments’ working blade is manufactured thinner than a stainless steel instrument, enhancing the ability to access tight pockets. An ultra-light exploratory stroke is all that’s required to ‘melt’ the calculus off of the tooth surface. Less pressure equals lighter grasp for the clinician and increases comfort for the patient. Finally, the modified scaling technique and lack of wasted sharpening time increases efficiency, saving time for other important tasks, such as treatment presentation.

“When hygienists are asked to describe their perfect hand instrument, they almost always state a desire for something that doesn’t require sharpening. Well, our wish has been granted! The future is here with sharpen-free XP Technology!”

For more information, visit


Shavonne Healy, RDH

“My favorite Young Dental product is the Vera Prophy Angle. I will admit that polishing is my least favorite part of the appointment, but Vera really has made it fun,” the Washingon, D.C.-based Healy said. “I have used a variety of prophy angles in my career and I truly believe that Vera outshines them all. The comfort and ease of using a Vera prophy angle improves visibility and facilitates better access to those hard to reach posterior molars. It really does take polishing to another level!”

For more information, visit

Jankee Bhatt, RDH

For Bhatt in Denver, making the recommendation that her patients purchase an electric toothbrush is an important part of the hygiene appointment.

“Patients ask me all the time if an electric or manual toothbrush is better and, if electric, which one? I have been a hygienist for 11 years and I always recommend patients use an electric toothbrush,” Bhatt said. “There are many qualities that the electric toothbrush has that help patients improve oral hygiene such as biofilm, plaque and inflammation reduction.”

Bhatt also recently conducted an interesting informal study on electric toothbrushes.

“I have asked several friends on Facebook if they owned an electric toothbrush and what type of smartphone they owned to see if there was a correlation between the two,” Bhatt explained. “It seemed that patients that own iPhone preferred the Sonicare and patients that owned a Droid preferred Oral-B.”

When asked why she recommended them, Bhatt said the answer was simple.

“Electric toothbrushes are great for children, adults, and patients who have dexterity problems,” Bhatt said. “Clinical tests and surveys have proven electric toothbrushes to be indispensable hygiene devices. The American Dental Association published positive survey results for 16,000 patients who were asked to replace manual brushing with mechanical brushing. More than 80 percent of the patients reported improved oral cleanliness with the switch from manual to powered brushing.

“Electric toothbrushes also have a timer set for two minutes that encourages patients to brush for a longer time than with a manual toothbrush. I have seen vast improvements on oral hygiene with patients that use an electric toothbrush.”

For more information, visit or

Cathie Collier, RDH

For Connecticut’s Collier, nothing helps her day more than the Montana Jack scaler from Paradise Dental Technologies (PDT).

“As a clinician, it’s the most diverse and most effective instrument I could use,” Collier said. “I’ve always found it to be sharp, lightweight, easy to use, and gentle on the patient. It’s taken the place of a lot of other instruments for me.”

Collier is also an instructor at Lincoln College of Dental Hygiene and tells her students of the Montana Jack’s virtues.

“It’s one of the first instruments I like my students to hold,” she said. “It’s easy for them to work with and is great for all patients, especially pedo and ortho patients.”

For more information, visit

Diana Macri, RDH

Macri works on Staten Island, part of New York City, and says that being comfortable on the job makes her day much better.

“I love my scrubs from Healing Hands,” Macri said. “I’m 5-foot-5 and these scrubs are the perfect length for me. It’s not easy for me to find comfortable scrubs that fit my awkward proportions. I need extra room in the bum and a tighter band around the waist. I don’t have to worry about adjusting these scrubs all day long. They stay right where they need to be. If I’m constantly fighting my scrubs, I’m not able to focus on my patients. I never have to worry about that with my Healing Hands scrubs.”

For more information, visit

Related reading: Ultradent's new flouride varnish Enamelast is effective without the gritty residue

Carol Jent, RDH

Jent works with some very young patients in her Utah practice and calls Enamelast fluoride varnish from Ultradent a “godsend” for helping her protect those tiny teeth.

“Enamelast comes in a unit dose as well as a syringe and the syringe delivery is a godsend for working with young patients in a knee-to-knee approach with the mom right there,” Jent said. “With the syringe delivery, I can get as much as I need as we go. I can also use different tips with the syringe and get the product interproximally or along the gum line. It sticks well and that’s a big reason to love it.”

Jent also said that the unique Walterberry flavor is a big plus for Enamelast.

“Kids, or anyone else for that matter, really don’t mind the flavor at all,” she said. “It tastes like a blend of berries and stays long enough to keep away any of the ‘varnishy’ flavors that people don’t like.”

For more information, visit

Anastasia Turchetta, RDH

Turchetta is a video blogger and noticed some trendy oral health topics on YouTube, from DIY braces to DIY activated carbon paste to whiten your teeth. As a working dental hygienist, her job is to recognize trends, discuss the truth and provide options. She thinks she has found something interesting in Curaprox Black is White toothpaste.

“I was recently introduced to Curaprox Black is White toothpaste,” Turchetta said. “Curaprox is a very well-known Swiss brand. After using this product, I can say that whitening your teeth has never been so black or white until now!

“Here’s what you need to know about this product. This product’s most familiar ingredient in this paste is activated carbon. It is like a sponge and lifts stains away safely. It is free from SLS and Triclosan. It has a low abrasivity value, fluoride, and enamel remineralizing properties.

“The only tip to share with your patients is that their teeth will look black from the paste and not to worry. They are not getting punked!”

Turchetta said there are five reasons this product will be of interest to your patients:

  1. Some will want the hot, trendy black toothpaste
  2. Some will want the benefit of SLS- and Triclosan-free
  3. Some will want the benefit of low abrasivity
  4. Some will want the benefit of fluoride
  5. Some will want the benefit of enamel remineralizing

She added: “Dental professionals will want a whitening toothpaste that embraces all of it for them!”