There are many types of handles that can be chosen when ordering dental instruments. The considerations when selecting handles for instruments should be their weight, balance, texture, diameter (size), shape, markings and whether they are single or double ended. Single or double ended instruments are certainly a personal preference, but doubled ended instruments are more efficient. Using double ended instruments allows the operator to flip the instrument, rather than picking up a different instrument, in order to access another surface of the mouth for treatment.
Although very lightweight, an instrument can have a significant toll on the stress of the hand. The instrument weight should be balanced between the ends, and significant enough that the instrument does not require the handle be pinched in order to activate a stroke. An instrument that is too light will cause as much hand stress as one that is too heavy.
Instrument handles can be smooth or textured as well as rounded or angled. Classic dental office ergonomics has defined rounded, textured surfaces to be easier to grasp rather than small and angled surfaces. In addition, the handles should have a larger diameter in order to allow the fingers to grasp without pinching.5 Recently, a new type of ergonomically designed handle has come on the market which has an hourglass profile. This design decreases the pinch force up to 65% and the pressure on the tooth by approximately 37%. The handle design enables less pinching with the clinician’s fingers and less pressure on the tooth to scale, which helps to decrease hand fatigue and provide greater patient comfort.6
Some instruments are available with markings on the shank in order to distinguish the correct cutting edge. This is useful because the curvature of the blade and the shape of the shank may make it difficult to recognize the correct cutting edge. Also, there are options for Gracey curettes with periodontal probing measurement lines on the terminal shank of the instrument. See Figure 2 below for a variety of scaler handles.