People should visit the dentist every six months for preventative care, according to the Nemours hospital network Teens Health website. These twice-yearly visits typically include an examination of the teeth and mouth, X-rays and a cleaning. Teeth can get plaque build-up even in individuals who brush them after every meal. The cleaning gets rid of this debris. Most patients do not have major discomfort during dental cleanings, but some experience tooth pain afterward.
The term "dental cleaning" can mean different things. It usually means routine scaling and polishing of the teeth to remove plaque build-up, but the Dental Fear Central website explains that it can also refer to a process called deep planing. This procedure is more likely to cause tooth pain because it is more in-depth.
Root planing involves smoothing the root surfaces and taking out any infected areas, according to Dental Fear Central. This process is necessary in people with gum disease who develop deep pockets around their teeth. The pockets collect tartar deposits that have to be removed. The deep cleaning may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to get rid of potentially harmful bacteria.
A dental cleaning is usually painless. Dental Fear Central explains that patients feel the tools scraping against their teeth, but it is not usually an unpleasant sensation. People with sensitive teeth may feel some tooth pain during a deep dental cleaning. Their gums may also hurt, depending on the depth of the pockets they have developed.
People who are especially sensitive or who have severe gum disease can prevent pain by asking for anesthetic, Dental Fear Central advises. The dentist can inject a numbing drug to eliminate both tooth and gum pain. Some dentists offer topical anesthetics as an alternative, but they only stop gum pain. The teeth will still feel sensations because the numbing agent does not have a deep enough reach.
Tooth pain from a dental cleaning is usually limited to the time frame of the cleaning itself. However, Dental Fear Central warns that tooth sensitivity and bleeding may last for a while afterward. Hot or cold temperatures will cause tooth pain until the effect wears off, and the gums may also be sore. Ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain killers are usually sufficient to manage the discomfort, but the dentist can prescribe stronger medications if needed.
Teens Health warns that ongoing tooth pain or sensitivity may signal an underlying problem. Patients should mention pain during a cleaning to the dentist, especially if it has never happened before. It could indicate a cavity or an irritated or inflamed nerve.