And now for one of our favourite dentistry gadgets of all time… The Dental Button! (scroll down for some very affordable alternatives – some cost as little as £1)

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??

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!!” (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.”

8 year update:

“I’ll cry if my button breaks.”

So what’s the snag?

Yes… there had to be a snag, didn’t there? Unfortunately, it looks as if the dental button has been discontinued :(. To the best of our 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. And it is (was?) expensive – around £1000.

There’s a new kit in town…

Kit Calm
…and it’s called Kit Calm. It currently retails at €139 (special introductory offer), and includes free worldwide shipping from Spain.

Kit Calm consists of “a portable wireless receiver, installed in the dental unit, which emits a luminous and acoustic signal when your patient presses his control”. It comes with a green kiddie button which emits a cricket sound that can be incorporated into game play, and a white adult button, which sounds like an email or mobile phone notification.

The receiver uses AAA batteries, which last about 2 or 3 months. In lieu of a low battery indicator, Kit Calm has been designed so that the first thing that stops working is the light. That way, you can continue working with the sound only until you get a chance to change the batteries.

The buttons use 23A 12v batteries, which should last for over 2 years.

Visit the Kit Calm website to find out more!

Low-Cost Alternatives

Button clicker
These alternatives don’t have quite the same 100% control effect as the Dental Button, but they’re a lot cheaper and can work a treat:

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

    “I like to use a button clicker – psychologically it gives my patients a sense of having the power to stop us ‘in the palm of their hand’. Believe it or not I use the type that are used to train dogs! Not very glamorous but patients love it. I also think it’s useful for those who wear powerful loupes/ microscopes who risk missing a subtle hand lift. The clickers I like best are the ‘Viskey’ model. I just remove the key ring/ cord and it sits comfortably in the patient’s hand. I purchased them on amazon. Very cheap and very simple but also very effective!” (Niall Neeson BDS)

    Tip: Button clickers come in a range of colours. Red and orange are best avoided, as they may look too much like a panic button! At less than £1, this must be the cheapest dentistry gadget out there, so get yours while stocks last.

The information on this page has been provided by Dental Fear Central. Last reviewed on April 5, 2019. We welcome your feedback on our information resources.