The Dental Button

And now for my favourite dentistry gadget of all time… The Dental Button!

What is the Dental Button?

hand holding the dental button
The Dental Button is a device installed in your dentist’s (or hygienist’s) chair which puts control of the handpiece (“the drill” or the ultrasonic scaler) into your hands!

Basically, you are given a button to hold. If you press it, the drill instantly stops, until you give your dentist the okay and he or she resets the system. How cool is that??

Here’s a demo from YouTube (***trigger warning*** – contains explicit images and sounds):

Isn’t this dangerous?

From our message board:

:?: “I would be afraid it might cause the dentist to make mistakes or botch something up — if the dentist is in the middle of drilling something and the power cuts out, seems like it could cause the tool to slip and possibly damage your teeth or gums??”

:!: “Believe me there will be no problem with power being cut without warning …. what you don’t want is the drill turning on without warning!! :shock:” (Lincoln Hirst, BDS)

:!: “I can’t think of any circumstances where it would be dangerous. Might mess up a crown prep I suppose, if someone stopped the handpiece at exactly the wrong point.” (Gordon Laurie, BDS)

What have dentists said about the Dental Button?

3-day update:

“I have now had the button installed for three days. Patient response has been very positive. No one has actually activated it yet. This is very disappointing as it was very expensive and I want to get some value for money!!

One thing I have noticed is that the patients look visibly more relaxed. Also they tend to hold it loosely and not with their thumbs poised over the button as I was expecting.

I always demonstrate its use first and tell patients that I am not expecting them to need to use it but merely trying to give them a little bit of control which most people find helpful. I also assure them that I will not get annoyed if they actually use it!” (Lincoln Hirst BDS)

1 1/2 year update:

“Would not be without the dental button now. A few patients prefer not to use it but 99% love it.”

Click here for more dental button reviews by dentists and by patients!

So what’s the snag?

Yes… there had to be a snag, didn’t there? Unfortunately, the dental button is not very widely available yet :(. To the best of my knowledge, only a handful of dentists in the U.K. have it – among them Lincoln (see above) in Welwyn Garden City and Mike Gow in Glasgow.

The second snag is that it’s on the expensive side (though if you’re a dentist, you could always try asking for the special Dental Fear Central discount…).

Low-Cost Alternatives


These alternatives don’t have quite the same immediacy or psychological effect as the Dental Button, but they might do in a pinch:

  • a simple wireless door bell from somewhere like B&Q
  • a dog clicker (see photo)

Further Information

The Dental Button official website