Extracting forceps are tools used mainly in the field of dental work. Their primary function is in reaching, grasping and extracting teeth. They are handheld tools that resemble small pliers and most commonly are manufactured from stainless steel, which is fairly long-lasting and suitable for repeated sterilization and reuse. Patients of dental professionals might recognize them — somewhat fearfully! — if they have had any teeth pulled or have had any extensive dental work done.
Forceps, in general, are a familiar tool in the fields of medicine and health. They are used to grasp and handle objects that are too small or too difficult to reach for medical professionals to deal with using only their hands. The same is true of dental extracting forceps, which are designed specifically for handling teeth.
There are three main parts in the structure of extracting forceps: the handle, the neck and the beak. The beak, which is the structure at the end of the tool that is used to grasp objects, is shaped to fit the contour of a particular tooth. The inside of the beak is concave, and the outside is convex in shape. The design of the beak is such that it grips a tooth with maximum surface contact on its root.
Dental extraction forceps come in a wide variety of shapes and types. There are types for each region of the mouth as well as each type of tooth. Some of the more common types of forceps used are for the maxillary, incisor, cuspid and bicuspid regions of the mouth.
Aside from the specific types of teeth by which the tools may be identified, extracting forceps are split into two general categories: maxillary forceps, which are intended for use in the upper jaw, and mandibular forceps, which are intended for use in the lower jaw. Maxillary forceps usually have beaks that are angled away from the curve of the forceps handles, and mandibular forceps have beaks angled in the same direction that the handle curves. Their respective shapes allow for ease of reach into their designated areas of the mouth.
The overall shape of the forceps — including the beak, neck and handle — also can indicate whether the tool is intended for use in the upper jaw or lower jaw. Essentially, forceps that are I-shape, S-shape, or Z-shape are to be used on the upper jaw, and forceps that are C-shape or L-shape are to be used on the lower jaw. These shapes correspond to the visible angle of the beak in relation to the neck and handles.