Ultrasonic instruments have been used in dentistry since the 1950's. Initially they were used to cut teeth but very quickly they became established as an ultrasonic scaler which was used to remove deposits from the hard tissues of the tooth. This enabled the soft tissues around the tooth to return to health. The ultrasonic vibrations are generated in a thin metal probe and it is the working tip that is the active component of the instrument. Scanning laser vibrometry has shown that there is much variability in their movement which is related to the shape and cross sectional shape of the probe. The working instrument will also generate cavitation and microstreaming in the associated cooling water. This can be mapped out along the length of the instrument indicating which are the active areas. Ultrasonics has also found use for cleaning often inaccessible or different surfaces including root canal treatment and dental titanium implants. The use of ultrasonics to cut bone during different surgical techniques shows considerable promise. More research is indicated to determine how to maximize the efficiency of such instruments so that they are more clinically effective.