Ever wonder what all those tools are, exactly, as you stare at the dental tray? Wait. That’s going

in my mouth? Here’s a more in depth look at those gadgets and their jobs:

A sickle probe
The fancy name for the metal stick with a curve on the end that most of us associate with the dentist. It helps identify problems like cavities and scrapes away tartar and plaque.

A scaler and curettes
More long, sharp metal instruments that take care of thicker buildup trapped in tiny pockets between teeth.

Suction device
Yes, this is the REAL name for the tool that removes saliva and water during dental work like fillings.

As the name suggests, the drill removes tooth decay and sounds scarier than it looks. It can send vibrations down the tooth and gums causing some discomfort, but isn’t typically painful, thanks to local anesthetic.

Once the plaque and buildup have all been scraped off, the polisher comes in and buffs the tooth and keeps it smooth, shiny and white.

Most tools are pretty harmless, but it can be helpful to understand the role of each piece of equipment to eliminate fears and questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist or hygienist to explain any device or procedure, putting your mind at ease. Your comfort is a top priority!