Operator Requirements

In order to maximize the efficiency of an instrument transfer technique the operator should maintain a fulcrum for his/her working hand in the oral cavity so the actual location of the transfer between team members will be predictable. The number of instrument exchanges during a typical restorative procedure may exceed 100. By making an instrument exchange predictable, there is no need for the operator to look away from the oral cavity during the procedure. Follow these guidelines for smooth safe transfers.

  • Use a non‑verbal signal to indicate a need to exchange an instrument; this avoids tedious and repetitious verbal communication throughout the workday.
  • Withdrawal of the used instrument from the operative field serves as a non‑verbal signal and it repositions the used instrument for better access by the dental assistant (Figure 3).
  • Place the used instrument in his/her hand in a position that enables the assistant to safely retrieve it.
  • The assistant grasps the used instrument.
  • The assistant transfers the new instrument.


  • Eyes on the operative field.
  • Refrain from removing instruments from or replacing instruments onto the pre-set tray (Figure 4).
Figure 3.
Instrument Withdrawal
Instrument Withdrawal.
Figure 4.
Operator maintaining the visual field
Operator maintaining the visual field.
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