Your twice-yearly dental cleaning and checkup is an essential part of your overall dental care plan. But if you’ve noticed pain after a dental cleaning, you may be wondering if aching teeth and sore gums should be considered essential parts of your routine dental visits as well.
While pain shouldn’t necessarily be part of your experience, it is common for many people to feel pain, tenderness, gum swelling, and, in some cases, slight gum bleeding after a cleaning. The level of pain and other post-cleaning symptoms varies according to each individual’s pain tolerance and cleaning needs.
What Causes the Pain?
Even when performed gently and correctly, gums may be sore after a thorough tooth cleaning. Some of the more common causes for pain during or after a dental cleaning are explained below.
- Deep cleanings (aka, ‘scalings’) – A deep cleaning or, scaling, may be needed if there is tartar that needs to be removed from your teeth or along your gumline. The high-pressure tools used during a deep cleaning may cause discomfort to your teeth and gums.
- Sensitive teeth – If your teeth are already sensitive to cold, heat or pressure, a dental cleaning can aggravate the sensitive nerve endings in your teeth, causing temporary pain.
- Significant tartar buildup – If there’s enough tartar buildup on your teeth, it could actually be insulating your teeth from cold and heat. Once its removed, the tooth is now exposed to more sensations – which may make post-cleaning pain more likely.
- Gum inflammation – If your gums are inflamed, it may also be painful as a reaction to the cleaning. This should calm down within a few days of the procedure.
Tips to Make Your Dental Cleaning Less Painful
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever before and after your cleaning to help reduce pain during your procedure and relieve pain after the procedure is done.
- Ask your dental hygienist if it’s possible to numb your gums or mouth before beginning your cleaning – especially if you know you’ll be having a deep cleaning.
- A few weeks before your dental visit, switch to a desensitizing toothpaste. This can help reduce the sensitivity of your teeth during your cleaning.
- Practice good dental habits between cleanings. If you are vigilant about brushing, flossing and taking care of your teeth and gums, teeth cleanings will be much easier and less painful.
Don’t over-brush. Many people use too much pressure when brushing their teeth, or use a toothbrush whose bristles are too hard. Both of these can damage teeth and make them more sensitive. Try switching to an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes do the bulk of the work for you and are often more gentle than regular toothbrushes. They are also better at cleaning below the gum line, so there’s less for the hygienist to scrape away during your cleaning.
Worried about pain after your next oral cleaning? Let us know when you make your next appointment, we can discuss options to help you reduce pain symptoms and get back to normal even faster after your dental visits.