One of the reasons people don't like visiting the dentist is that they fear pain caused by all the tools a dentist uses. But the truth is that most patients don't have any idea what the purpose of these tools are, which heightens their fear. So to help lower your anxiety about your next dental appointment, or to educate you if are going to the dentist for the first time, here are some of the most common tools that dentists use.

Dental Mirror -- If you've been to a dentist before, you've probably seen him holding a thin tool with a small curved mirror at the end that he inserts into your mouth. This tool is known as a dental mirror, and it may have a stainless steel handle or a wooden handle. It allows your dentist to see inside your mouth, especially in the upper molar area, which is difficult to view with the naked eye. Many patients have plaque deposits that are hidden on the back side of their teeth, so the mirror lets a dentist see if cavities are visible on the hidden portions of your teeth, or if he can see any cracks or chips that may need to be fixed.

Sickle Probe -- A sickle probe is a long thin tool made from stainless steel that has a curved hook at one end. When your dentist does an exam of your teeth, he will often use a sickle probe to determine the level of decay in your enamel. The long handle is simply constructed to allow your dentist to access your back teeth, but the hook is what does the job. Your dentist will use the hook to probe your teeth for soft spots, which are a sign of imminent or ongoing decay.

Periodontal Probe -- When you go to your dentist for a general cleaning, he will use a periodontal probe to take measurements of the gaps between your teeth, and the gap between your gums and the bottom of your teeth. Periodontal probes are shaped similarly to sickle probes, but they have a hook on each end, and the hooks are more curved than those on a sickle probe. Periodontal probe measurements give your dentist a good indication of whether you are experiencing gum disease that he needs to treat. Often times, your dentist will take measurements of every one of your teeth, and call out the numbers to an assistant who will record them. Unlike the sickle probe, a periodontal probe is marked with engravings to make measurements easier to calculate.

For more information, contact a dentist like Dr Peter Vaughan Specialist Orthodontist.