dental mirror an IO mirror

What is a dental mirror? — Dental mirrors are also known as mouth mirrors or stomatoscopes, consisting of a mirror head and handle. They offer the ability to observe areas in the mouth otherwise impossible to see. Dental staff uses mirrors inside the oral cavity for indirect vision, retraction, light reflection, and transillumination.


The 3 Types Of Dental Mirrors

Not all dental mirrors are built the same, there are three main types used in the dental office and each one is designed for a specific and unique purpose.


Concave Surface Mirrors

  • Magnified view
  • Non-inverted single image
  • Provides some illumination

Concave surface mirrors, also known as magnifying dental mirrors, are used when posterior areas in the mouth need to be examined closer. They help the dental staff maintain proper ergonomics without compromising quality of care, and assist in illuminating areas that are poorly lit. Concave surface mirrors do not invert the image, which is especially beneficial during dental procedures.


Front Surface Mirrors

  • Clear single image
  • No distortion
  • Bright illumination

Front surface dental mirrors provide a crisp and clear single image without distortion. They contribute bright illumination necessary when working in dim oral cavities, and transillumination– reflecting light through a tooth structure to detect cavities or fractures. Front surface mirrors are the most common dental mirrors for these reasons.

Plane Surface

  • Creates a double-image
  • Accurately proportioned
  • Poor illumination

Plane surface dental mirrors create a double image or “ghost image.”

As light reflects on the back surface of the mirror, it produces a false second image of the objects in view.

Although the “ghost image” can cause confusion, it is usually faint and disregarded.

Plane surface mirrors produce accurately proportioned sizes of the objects being reflected, however do not provide bright illumination.

Choosing Between Stainless Steel and Plastic Dental Mirrors?

Is there a difference between stainless steel and plastic dental mirrors?  — Making the choice between stainless steel or plastic mirrors depends on your circumstances. Those who do not have the means or desire to utilize sterilization may choose disposable plastic dental mirrors because they can be discarded. However, those looking for a sustainable option and have the infrastructure set up to maintain proper sterilization may opt for stainless steel dental mirrors or autoclavable plastic dental mirrors.

Anything Else?

Mouth mirrors play their main role as a visual tool in dentistry.  However, they play a secondary role of retraction of tissue such as lips, cheeks and tongues when providing dental services.

If the mirror used has a handle and mirror head, always ensure they are assembled properly to eliminate the mirror head slipping when force is applied during retraction. 


The Best Dental Mirror Is One That Fits Your Needs!


Article Content References

  1. Robert J.Nelsen D.D.S. “Front Surface Dental Mirror.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, Elsevier, 16 Jan. 2015
  2. Uzun, Berna, et al. “Optimization of Dental Devices and Tools Used on Teeth.” BioMed Research International, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Aug. 2021