A beam model is developed and discretized to study the dynamic behavior of the cantilever probe of an atomic force microscope. Atomic interaction force models are used with a multimode approximation in order to simulate the probe’s response. The system is excited at two-and-a-half times the fundamental frequency and with a dual-frequency signal consisting of the AFM probe’s fundamental frequency and two-and-a-half times the fundamental frequency. A qualitative change in the response in the form of period doubling is observed for the harmonic off-resonance excitation when significantly influenced by repulsive surface forces. Through the use of dual-frequency excitation, standard response characteristics are maintained, while the inclusion of the off-resonance frequency component results in an identifiable qualitative change in the response. By monitoring specific frequency components, the influence of attractive and repulsive surface forces may be distinguished. This information could then be used to distinguish between imaging regimes when bistability occurs or to operate at the separation distance between surface force regimes to minimize force levels.