Have you ever left your dental cleaning with sensitive teeth or tender gums? This can be completely normal, especially if it’s been awhile since your last appointment. We can help explain why this may happen and also how it may actually help you in the long run.
Reasons for Professional Teeth Cleaning
Even if you consider yourself the best person at brushing & flossing, there is nothing that can compare to a professional teeth cleaning (the only way to get into hard-to-reach places in your mouth that are often neglected by no fault of your own). It’s because of these hard spots that a professional teeth cleaning comes in handy, as our dental hygienists are able to use special tools to detect rough spots to remove any bacteria that has built up. Removing leftover bacteria & plaque will help you maintain a healthy smile to prevent dental issues like cavities & gum disease.
At your teeth cleaning appointment you can receive:
- Oral cancer screenings
- Scaling to remove tartar & plaque
- Dental X-rays to detect decay
- Gum disease detection & prevention
- Protective dental sealants
- A comprehensive treatment plan if any issues are discovered
Understanding Teeth Cleaning
Routine professional teeth cleanings are crucial to maintaining a healthy smile that’s free of cavities & gum disease. It’s recommended you see your dentist every six months or more often (every 3-4 months) depending on your individual oral health a/o risk factors. During your cleaning, your hygienist provides a cleaning experience that goes beyond daily brushing & flossing, after which your dentist assesses the health of your teeth.
Professional cleanings are so important because your hygienist is able to remove tartar, a calcified substance that can’t be removed with a normal brush or floss at home. When our team “scales” your teeth, a specialized metal instrument is used to scrape off tartar that has begun to build up on your tooth enamel. Think of it like the barnacles that build-up on the underside of a boat if you need a visual (you’re welcome for that). When tartar is left on your teeth for long periods of time, you may begin to experience signs of gum disease with inflammation & swelling at the gum line. During the scaling process, it can be somewhat irritating to your gums as the bacteria is being dislodged from the area – hence the tender sore feeling you get after leaving. The more build-up and bacteria, the more scaling. More scaling means increased tenderness and sensitivity. You get where we’re going here? The better your home-care and the more regular your dental cleanings, the easier your appts—so less tenderness and sensitive following your procedure.
Having sensitive teeth after a teeth cleaning is a fairly normal experience as your gums can show signs of inflammation, swelling, & bleeding. These symptoms shouldn’t last more than a week. Generally any discomfort should dissipate within one to two days following your cleaning. If you’re experiencing some sensitivity you can follow these tips:
- Daily brushing and flossing. Just because your teeth are tender, doesn’t mean you should refrain from brushing/flossing. Continuing to brush & floss after they have been cleaned is the best way to maintain the work your hygienist has done. Think of your teeth cleaning as a fresh slate while brushing & flossing are ways to keep your slate clean. Doing so on a daily basis (at least twice a day) will help remove plaque, preventing it from hardening into tartar all over again.
- Introduce professional devices for home use with an electric brush (preferably one with a pressure indicator to alert you to problem brushing techniques) and a water-flosser. We like the Oral B Pro Level Genius (fully customizable with a pressure indicator and tracking so it’s like the Fit Bit of tooth brushing) and the travel model Waterpik (for it’s ease, convenience, and customizable levels. We keep both fully stocked in our office and in our online shop. We can even help you with all the necessary paperwork to file these with your HSA/FSA.
- Use a soft or extra-soft brush. The only thing your should be using regular-course toothbrushes for is the grout in your bathroom! They’re too abrasive on your gums & enamel and will only cause or worsen sensitivity.
- Avoid tough foods. Although your mouth is still the same (just cleaner!), you should be conscious of the foods you eat right after your appt. Avoid foods with extreme temperatures (very hot or cold), since this can heighten any sensitivity you may already be feeling. Also avoid eating hard foods such as popcorn, peanut brittle, ice, or chewy candies as they can get lodged in between teeth, causing discomfort.
- Use sensitive toothpaste. It might be a nice option to choose a sensitive toothpaste over a standard toothpaste to help decrease any sensitivity on the tooth enamel. This can help offset overall sensitivity and strengthen teeth. We love Prevident Sensitive, a prescription toothpaste available for dispensing directly at our office or in our online shop.
- Fluoride treatments. If you had a fluoride treatment after your teeth cleaning, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after your cleaning before consuming any food or beverage. This way the treatment has the ability to fully absorb & remineralize the teeth. You should also avoid highly acidic foods after the treatment, as this can wear it away at a faster rate.
- Regular dental visits. Visit us for a cleaning as routinely as possible to maintain a healthy well-being for your teeth and to detect any signs of dental caries or gum disease before they become serious issues. Remember, more regular care means less bacteria & build-up between appointments making it an easier appointment on our hygienist and you! Easier appts mean less post-appointment tenderness & sensitivity. Help us, help you.