Everyone knows that going to the dentist is highly recommended in order to avoid the development of gum disease and tooth decay. However, many people nonetheless put off simple preventative dental care visits because they think they can do a good job of caring for their teeth and gums at home. While it's true that good attention to your dental hygiene can help to protect your oral health, there are things your dentist can do that simply aren't possible for you to mimic at home. If you haven't been to the dentist in a while, you're depriving yourself of these three things that can be done to help prevent and detect dental decay in the earliest stages.
One of the tools at a dentist's disposal is dental sealants. These are a simple, painted-on extra layer of protection covering your teeth. It's sort of like inorganic, artificial enamel. This process uses the same material that goes into filling cavities, meaning that it looks extremely natural and isn't typically visible to the naked eye at all.
Dental sealants are often used with kids, but are available to adults, as well. Having sealants on your teeth will help to protect the dental enamel from decay, reducing the risk of developing cavities dramatically.
Dental x-rays can find a surprising number of problems with teeth since they're able to look at them from the inside out. This is where your dentist has a major advantage over you taking a look at your own teeth.
Dental x-rays can detect issues before they're ever felt or visible on the outside. For example, some conditions, like tooth resorption, can cause teeth to start decaying from the inside out. Generally, this condition is only discovered either during a regular check-up x-ray or when a patient complains about pain. Catching this condition early on will let your dentist save the tooth, so don't skip your x-rays.
Nearly everyone knows about dental plaque and tartar, but there are some misconceptions about the two among patients. The simplest way to break it down is that plaque can be removed at home, but tartar can't.
Tartar is the hardened, more permanent form of dental plaque. Unfortunately, once tartar has developed, it's there for good until a dentist either picks it off with a dental scaler or uses an ultrasonic scaler to break it up. Until it's removed, the risk of dental decay and even gum disease remains high, and there's no real way to get rid of 100% of plaque at home to keep it from forming. Thankfully, a simple dental cleaning and exam will get rid of it for good.