While you may think that you are doing a good job brushing and flossing at home, dentists, hygienists and their team are trained to take a deeper look inside your mouth and diagnose and treat and problems that you may not see or think are problems to begin with. Routine radiographs (x-rays) allow the dentist to see if there are cavities hiding between your teeth that you would not be able to see until they are VERY large. The x-rays also allow the dentist and hygienist to see if there is calculus (hardened, almost fossilized plaque) under the gums and between the teeth. Based on the visual, tactile and x-ray exam by the dentist, they can give you recommendations to remedy any of the problems that they find. This can include a filling, a preventative mouth rinse to prevent a very small cavity from getting larger, a deep cleaning to remove the calculus from under your gums that you are not able to do at home, and even recommendations on how to brush and floss better to improve your oral health. Dentists are also trained to look for early signs of oral cancer that often go unnoticed by the patient as they are usually painless and hiding on the sides of the tongue.
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