I was thrilled to read in the recent journal of Dimensions that someone was available to answer questions on instrument sharpening! I am a recent dental hygiene graduate who has always had an issue with sharpening. Basically I donÍt know what I am doing wrong but I never can seem to get the blade sharp enough. Do you have any advice or tricks that you can offer when it comes to sharpening with a hand stone? I tried the Gleason Glide but ended up giving it away because I didn''t feel like it did the trick. Which stones are better? When should they be replaced? Can you also offer any tips on sharpening the inside blade? I always end up hitting the shank of the instrument. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to help improve the skills of other dental hygiene professionals. Frustrated with Sharpening,
Thanks for the great questions, Mollie, as these tend to be questions we all have at one time or another. The article on sharpening in the May issue of Dimensions has an easy to use guide that you can make with an index card. It consists of three lines, one at 70 degrees, one at 90 degrees and one at 110 degrees from the edge of the card. The 90 degree line is the one used to make the face of the blade perpendicular to the line. The 110 and 70 are the guides to make your stone parallel to the lines to maintain the correct angle of the stone to the cutting edge. That angle needs to be maintained throughout the sharpening process.
Stone selection is based on sharpening needs. If you have an extremely dull instrument, I like the India stone as it creates a sharp edge fast. If you have a slightly dull edge then the Arkansas, ceramic or composition stones will do the trick. The only issue with these stones is the need for lubrication during the sharpening procedure. If you are sharpening with the patient in the chair, you don''t want to use a stone that requires an oil lubricant as that compromises the sterility of the instrument. India and Arkansas stones typically need oil as the lubricant, so your other stones are better when sharpening during the appointment.
As long as you sharpen using different areas of the stone it can last a long while. Sharpening in the same place all the time will wear that part of the stone making it difficult to create the precise angulations.
The inside blade is a tricky one to sharpen. I like using a wedge-shaped stone and placing the narrow portion toward the instrument, or you can use a rectangular-shaped stone and place the blade closer to the edge of the stone away from you.