When treating patients whether it be periodontal therapy or a prophy, identifying the instrument needed to complete the task should be easy and allow for the clinician to remain focused on the patient as well as assist in proper ergonomics. Color coding instruments can simplify treatment as well as be a great tool in teaching clinical dental hygiene. The simplicity provided by color coding instruments is discussed in an article published in 2010 in the journal Quintessence International. The author aims to “share a way that will help make scaling and root planning more efficient chairside, and help dental educators teach scaling and root planning to students in a more efficient manner.”1
Color coding is used widely in dentistry from endodontic files to anesthetic carpules. Additionally, color coding cassettes have been utilized to designate a specific operatory o procedure, making instrument cassette selection easier and more efficient as all the proper instruments are accessible.
Using color coded bands to identify instruments and ensure inventory is correct in cassettes is an additional benefit to color coding instruments. A clinician can determine if a vital instrument is missing with a quick glance. This can also assist in sterilization when determining where a single instrument that is out of place should go, making it less confusing for auxiliary personnel that may not be familiar with specific scalers and curettes.
In a educational setting color coding specific instruments can be helpful for the faculty member to identify which instrument is being used without the student needing to remove the instrument to show the faculty member. It will also quickly alert a faculty member if an instrument such as a Gracey ½ is being used posteriorly, giving the faculty member the opportunity to provide guidance to the student. Additionally, color coding instruments in an educational setting in this way will assist in identifying improper sharpening of instruments.
If you haven’t already begun color coding within your practice, you should certainly consider it. Color coding makes instrument and cassette identification quick and thoughtless with less time wasted getting instruments that may not be in the cassette set up. Zirc provides a great resource and options to tackle this task with ease. They offer multiple colors, many of which are bright, cheerful and fun while others are more classic, elegant and classy. Either way, the level of organization that can be achieved through color coding instruments and cassettes is unmatched.
The author concludes by stating, “The method of color coding suggested will assist dental hygienists and clinicians in their everyday practice, not only in inventory control but chairside practice. The color code makes each instrument readily recognizable. No matter what order the instruments are in on the bracket table or in the cassette, this will make the practice of dentistry and dental hygiene more efficient.”
Do you use a color-coding system for instruments or cassettes in your practice? If not, have you ever considered implementing a color-coding system? Do you often find you are missing instruments? Can you see the benefits of color-coding instruments and cassettes?
- Zohn HK. Color coding periodontal instruments. Quintessence Int. 2010;41(7):591-594.