9 Unusual Uses for Your Dental Tools

Looking for a way to bring new life to those piles of old tools you have sitting around your office? Once they’ve lost their edge, there are still plenty of ways to make use of nearly everything from your office instead of just dumping them in the trash, all it takes is a little creativity. From silly to practical, our list can inspire a whole new range of uses.

1. Cleaning

Water Flossers are great for mopping up what your toothbrush and floss miss between your teeth, but they’re also good at cleaning out any other tight spaces too. A quick burst of high-pressured water into all of the nooks and crannies you find around your house will blast loose any compacted dirt and other debris you may normally miss when you’re cleaning. From hardwood floors to furniture to children’s toys, you’ll be surprised at how much you can pull out of even the smallest cracks.

Be sure to wipe down and dry off anything you’re cleaning with a waterpik, otherwise all of that dirt you worked so hard to get out will just condense back onto the surface. For electronics or anything else you don’t want to get wet, you’ll probably be better off using a dental explorer or other probe. The same fine tip that scrapes all of your plaque off your teeth can also reach deep into spaces you would otherwise never get clean.

For larger, hard, flat surfaces, your old toothbrushes can work wonders! They’re great for cleaning tile and grout to get it sparkling white once again. You can even use toothpaste on some surfaces like the headlights for your car to remove buildup. If you’ve never tried it you probably should. Your visibility while driving at night will skyrocket and it won’t be long before you’re wondering how you ever drove around with such foggy headlights. Just be careful what you decide to use your toothbrush on, especially if you use toothpaste too! Your headlights will appreciate it, but your paint will not.

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2. String Art

For the more creatively inclined, there are tons of ways to make some cool art with your old dental tools. Anybody who’s survived the ordeal of having braces knows how those millions of tiny rubber bands end up everywhere. Using nails or pushpins for structure, stretch those rubber bands between them in any number of different patterns to create your own piece of art. Some ideas for inspiration include a world, country, or state map, your favorite logo, shapes ranging from as simple as a triangle to as complex as geometric patterns, or even your own name.

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Arrow
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Some more complex ideas include using nails or pins at different heights to create layers, or even a free-standing framework to make three dimensional objects. Anything which can be made out of a series of straight lines can be made into a beautiful, unique piece of string art.

3. Sculpting

All of those dental probes make perfect tools for working with clay and ceramics. With so many different sizes and shapes, you can achieve any level of
detail that you want and create some truly unique patterns. For super fine detail, a sickle pick may be a good option whereas a spoon excavator could be useful for larger, softer details. These are especially good tools because with their long, comfortable handles, it’s just as easy as writing with a pencil. On the other end of the spectrum, your dental mirrors can come in handy by using the flat face to smooth out surfaces or even to get a better view or lighting on a specific area of your piece.

When it comes time to join two pieces together, your probes can be useful once again. Use a smaller, sharper probe to score both pieces of clay in a mesh pattern before trying to join them so they lock together tightly and don’t ever fall apart. You can use anything from toothpicks to sewing needles to score your pieces, but why not condense your toolbag and save some space by using your probes as multipurpose tools for both detailing and joining? If you’re using a periodontal probe, you can even use the markings to estimate the thickness of your clay so you don’t try to join two pieces which are too thin and you can assure an even consistency so your final piece can bake properly in the kiln and doesn’t risk cracking.

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4. Painting

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Another artistic use for your old tools, you can use an old toothbrush to make some really cool paint strokes and splatters. The bristles of a toothbrush are thicker and stiffer than a regular paintbrush, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to paint with! You’ll get a different texture out of painting this way, instead of the soft strokes you’d normally expect, a toothbrush will leave the paint more jagged, rough, and unrefined.

Once you’re done with that, you can also make some really cool paint splatters with your old brush. Just dip the bristles in some paint and use a finger to bend them back. When you release them, a fine spray of paint, almost like a mist, will come flying off onto your painting. Whereas painting with a toothbrush results in more jagged strokes, making splatters with the same brush will generally be softer than the alternative. Experiment with different techniques and distances on a separate canvas to find a look that you like before committing to your main painting.

5. Halloween Costumes

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Let’s face it, lip retractors can look pretty terrifying. Makeup artists often put a lot of work into creating the illusion that zombie mouths are rotting away or alien mouths are wider than they should be. But with an extra lip retractor, you don’t need to rely on illusion, just pop one in and the majority of your work is done for you! Use a little bit of spirit gum and dyes to blend the edges into your skin and you’re already almost done. One set of fake teeth later and you can have your very own zombie or Alien costume with realistic effects and half the effort.

6. Lubricating

With a whole variety of syringes available, you can reach into the tightest of spaces which may otherwise be stuck shut. It goes without saying, but don’t use any hypodermic needles for this use, you want to use syringes with slightly wider tips so that your oil or lubrication of choice can flow easily into all your nooks and crannies. The right application can make your house and car doors, windows, kitchen drawers, tools, and whatever else you can think of open, close, and move as good, or even better than, new!

Using a syringe or injector gives you the benefit of getting directly to the source of the problem rather than just applying your lubrication all over and hoping that it works its way in. Be sure to research and use the proper lubrication for the specific project. You’ll need the right grade of viscosity, it may or may not need to be hydrophobic, and you’ll have to decide whether lubricant, anti-adherent, or glidant will serve you best.

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7. Drilling

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Perhaps the most obvious use, but if you have an extra dental drill, it can be used to drill more than just teeth. You’ll have to research your specific burs, but most drills can easily slice through soft wood and ice. This has practical applications like starting pilot holes for screws, or more creative uses like writing calligraphy script in a block of wood. A diamond tipped bur can even drill or begin the polishing process for a piece of glass, as long as you’re careful throughout the process not to crack or shatter the piece you’re working on.

Jewelers have long used the drill for precision work on their precious stones, both for grinding and polishing the edges. There is really very little that you can’t use an old drill for, given you select the right bur based off its material, the grade and angle of its blades, and size and shape of the bur itself. For large scale drilling or grinding, it’s probably still best to use a power drill or grinder specifically made for the purpose, but anything small and requiring detail can make good use of a dental drill.

8. Cutting Food

A little known fact outside the culinary world, dental floss is actually great at cutting doughs and soft cheeses. You can cut from the top down or you can wrap whatever you’re cutting with the floss, then pull the ends apart. The result is a perfect cut which won’t disrupt the layers in your dough and a nice, smooth edge to your cheese. Even the finest knife blade is much thicker than a piece of floss and unless it’s incredibly sharp, you’re likely to squish your food even as you slice it. Floss avoids this problem and also has the benefit of cutting from every direction towards the center, leaving you with perfectly presentable cuts that look like they were done by a professional chef. Just be sure to use plain, unflavored floss so none of it rubs off onto your food!

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9. Making Strong, Air-Tight Connections

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In a pinch, dental floss can also replace sealing tape or solder. This probably shouldn’t stay as a permanent solution, but if you need a quick fix and you’re out of supplies, it should hold you over for a little while. Simply wrap a strand of floss around the threads of your fitting a handful of times before screwing two pieces together and the floss will work its way into the tiny gaps, effectively sealing them and preventing air or water from escaping.

9 Unusual Uses for Your Dental Tools April 1, 2016
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