We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Dental Retractor?

By Kay Paddock
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A retractor is any piece of examination or surgical equipment that is used to move organs or tissue aside. A dental retractor is used by dentists and oral surgeons to move the cheeks, lips, and tongue out of the way so the mouth and teeth are fully exposed. There are a few different types of retractors that dental professionals use to hold specific parts of the mouth aside. They can choose between handheld or hands-free models as well. They can also opt for disposable retractors or those made from steel and plastic that can be sterilized and used again.

There are several different kinds of dental retractors. For example, a dental retractor can be designed to primarily hold the lips back from the front teeth. A different kind can pull the sides of the mouth and cheeks aside. When a retractor is used as surgical equipment during oral surgery, it will also sometimes serve as a tongue retractor; some styles have a small bar or shield that holds the tongue down. This keeps the patient's tongue from getting in the dentist's way and can help prevent accidental injury to the tongue.

Lip retractors are most often used when the front teeth need to be exposed for examination or procedures such as bleaching. Cheek retractors, which typically hold the cheeks and lips back, are often used as orthodontic equipment to reveal all the teeth at once. They can also be used to make it easier for dentists to work on back teeth. The most convenient type of retracting medical instrument is one that can be hooked over the lips and sides of the mouth. These are often held in place by gentle outward pressure from springs or flexible plastic. Handheld models are also an option.

A handheld dental retractor must be held by a dental assistant. These retractors are typically one long piece, unlike the hands-free models that have separate pieces to place inside the lips and cheeks. They resemble small models of larger retractors that are often used for surgery on other parts of the body. A Deaver retractor or a Richardson retractor, for instance, is a long piece of metal or plastic that is held at one end and hooked at the other. Small retractors made like this can be used by the assistant to hook inside the lip or cheek to pull it back, or press down on the tongue.

A hands-free dental retractor is often best for procedures that require more time and access to the patient's teeth. Many dentists use these, but also have an assistant use a handheld dental retractor when the lip or cheek only needs to be pulled out of the way briefly. Retractors made from metal and some types of plastic can be reused after proper sterilization in an autoclave. They can also be made from plastic and designed to be disposable after one use.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.