What is a Mouth Mirror?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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A mouth mirror, or dentist’s mirror, is a dental instrument. It is a small mirror that fits into an individual’s mouth and is attached to a prolonged handle. The dental mouth mirror is one of the most important pieces of dental equipment found in a tooth specialist’s examination room, although the devices can be useful in other occupational arenas as well.

The basic makeup of a mouth mirror consists of a small, tilted mirror attached to a thin handle, typically made of metal or durable plastic. A mirror generally comes in three sizes: 2, 4,and 5. The actual mirror may also come in different shapes, with a circular shape being the most common. A dentist's mirror may be designed for a single, disposable use or for repeated use. It may also contain a mirror on both sides and may possess a bendable intersection between mirror and handle.

The small size of mouth mirrors allows a dentist to view areas in the mouth inaccessible by plain sight, such as the back teeth. Each tooth can be separately examined because the mirror’s width and length necessitates individual examination. Most mirrors are also affixed to the elongated portion of the instrument at an angle, so that the dentist may access the sides of the teeth.


Mouth mirrors adequately serve as a reflective too as well. Many portions of the mouth are poorly lit, and the mouth mirror can reflect light onto these surfaces. Therefore, cavities, food lodgings, loose braces, and other potential tooth problems are more easily detectable. In addition, proper lighting allows both the dentist and the patient to remain in a comfortable position during examination.

At a more practical level, the mouth mirror can be utilized as a barrier remover. Examination areas of interest to a dentist are usually covered by obstacles in the mouth like the tongue or inner cheeks. Mouth mirrors can push aside these delicate tissues in a painless manner. In this way, the mirror is useful as a companion for other dental tools such as cleaning utensils.

Professionals have issued certain recommendations for effective utilization of the mouth mirror. For one, the dentist should use a light grip in order to prevent muscular or skeletal strain in the hands. Padded gripping surfaces can further alleviate discomfort. Further, fogging of the mirror can be avoided by placing the reflective surface under warm water. In addition. Mouth mirrors can also serve as effective teaching tools about proper tooth care for young children and adults alike.

While the mouth mirror is most often applied to its namesake, the instrument can prove invaluable for other uses. For example, its visual capabilities make the mouth mirror a handy tool for individuals who work with tight spaces like engineers, mechanics, and repair technicians. These same features—in addition to the lighting capabilities—make the tool attractive in certain laboratory and other medical settings as well. Some individuals even make the small mirrors a feature of craft projects.


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Post 2

Does anyone have any advice for the best type of dental mirror? Disposable? Plastic? Aluminum? I've been looking but would like some advice.

Post 1

I usually always associate a mouth mirror with my dentist. I know that both the hygienists and dentist use them regularly so they can really see what is going on. A dentist mirror tool is invaluable for the type of work they have to do. Because the reflect and light up, make their jobs much easier.

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