When your child makes his or her way into the dentist's office, the first sight they are greeted with is a line-up of shiny, silver tools next to the dental chair. While they may not look scary to you, I bet you can remember your first sight of these tools (some with hooks or sharp edges) and how scary they looked to you. If the sight of these is contributing to your child's dental fear, then follow this guide to explain to them how the most "scary-looking" tools are actually used to help them realize there is no reason to be afraid. 

1. Dental Explorer

The dental explorer is perhaps one of the scariest looking tools in the dental office, as it has a sharp-looking piece of curved metal at the tip that looks like it would be used to perform some type of painful procedure. However, it is not used to puncture anything, but it instead is used to gently probe the surfaces of teeth to detect areas of decay and other types of tooth damage. 

Why the sharp metal point? The tip must be very thin so it can detect the tiniest of cavities, and when metal is shaped very thin, it just happens to lead to it becoming pointed and sharp. 

Explain to your child that this instrument is never used to poke them anywhere, but it is only used very gently to examine the surface of their teeth. Remind them that their teeth are very hard and, even when tapped or poked gently, they don't have pain sensors on their surfaces like the rest of their body has. 

2. Periodontal Probe

A periodontal probe is similar in appearance to the dental explorer, but it instead typically has a straight tip instead of a curved one. The tip is also sharp-looking, which is why it can look just as scary as the explorer. However, this tool is not used to poke and prod teeth, but it is instead used to measure the depth of gum pockets, which helps the dentist determine whether gums are healthy or not. 

To ease your child's fears about this instrument, tell them it is just like the ruler they use in school but instead made of metal and thinner. It is made so thin because if it were thicker, it would not be able to get into the little crevice where the gums meet the teeth. Also tell your child that as long as they take good care of their teeth, then this tool won't ever even make it under their healthy gums!

Children are fearful of the unknown, and it is easy to see why they would be afraid of sharp-looking dental tools when they are unsure what they are used for. Explain how these two "scary-looking" tools are used and encourage your child to ask you or their dentist like the one at Malwin & Malwin Family Dentistry about any other dental tools they are curious about.