When you go to a dentist for anything from a regular cleaning to a root canal, chances are they’ll use a small, hand-held concave mirror to help with the examination portion of the appointment. Sometimes, patients will ask us why we use concave mirrors instead of some other kind of mirror. As with most things in dentistry, it comes down to being able to see the teeth better. Sometimes it’s hard for the dentist to get an accurate look at the teeth located in the back of the mouth (the molars). A concave mirror gives the dentist a magnified reflection of the mouth while also refracting a bit of light. This means the image in the mirror is larger, brighter, and, for the dentist, easier to see.
Another plus of using a concave mirror is that the image in the mirror isn’t inverted. What the dentist sees is exactly what’s actually there — just a bit larger. All of this makes seeing things like cavities much, much easier! Without a concave mirror, we would end up missing a lot of treatable problems.