The considerations with the shank of the instrument include the functionality factors such as long vs. short, heavy vs. thin, curved vs. straight and universal vs. area specific. Each one of these factors will be discussed as the specific instruments are explored. In addition, the flexibility of the shank plays a role in the use of the instruments. Table 3 (Hu-Friedy) defines flexibility as it relates to use and instrument type.

Table 3. Shank Flexibility.
Shank Type Uses Examples
Flexible Detection of subgingival calculus

Removal of fine calculus

Provides the best tactile sensation to the operator’s fingers via the shank and handle
Gracey Curettes

Moderately-Flexible Removal of light or moderate calculus

Provides good level of tactile sensation, allowing detection and removal of moderate deposits
Universal Curettes
Rigid Removal of heavy calculus deposits

Limited tactile sensations
Rigid Curettes

Sickle Scalers

Periodontal Files

Extra-Rigid Removal of very tenacious calculus deposits

Limited tactile sensation
Extra Rigid Graceys