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why teeth cleaning hurt

by:Golden Promise     2023-06-16

Why Teeth Cleaning Hurts: Understanding the Causes and Solutions

As important as good oral hygiene is, there are times when teeth cleaning feels a lot less than pleasant. While most people expect some sensitivity and discomfort during a dental cleaning, it's not always easy to understand why it can hurt so much. This article covers common causes of pain during teeth cleaning, tips to minimize discomfort, and how to prepare for a dental visit like a pro.

Cause 1: Plaque Buildup

Plaque is a sticky film that forms on teeth, harboring harmful bacteria that can cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. If left untreated, plaque can harden into calculus or tartar that can only be removed by a dental professional. The problem is that removing calculus can require the use of sharp instruments like scalers or ultrasonic cleaners that can irritate the gums, cause bleeding, or trigger pain.

Solution 1: Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

The best way to avoid the discomfort of plaque removal is to prevent it from building up in the first place. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can help remove plaque and keep your mouth clean. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help detect and remove tartar before it causes more significant damage.

Cause 2: Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth can make dental cleanings especially painful. Sensitivity can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposed roots due to gum recession, erosion of enamel, cavities, or recent dental work like fillings or crowns. The sensation of cold and hot water or air during a cleaning can cause shooting pain.

Solution 2: Use Desensitizing Products

Using a desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash before a cleaning can help numb the teeth and reduce sensitivity. If the pain is severe, your dentist may also prescribe a stronger medication or apply fluoride gel to protect the teeth. Communicate your sensitivity concerns to your dentist, and they'll take extra care to ensure that your comfort level during cleanings is a top priority.

Cause 3: Phobia or Anxiety

Many people avoid dental visits because of fear or anxiety related to the procedure or past traumatic experiences. Dental phobia can manifest as a racing heartbeat, nausea, sweating, or even panic attacks in some cases, making a simple cleaning feel like torture.

Solution 3: Practice Relaxation Techniques

If you fear visiting the dentist, you're not alone. Communicate openly with your dentist and dental staff about your anxieties to find ways to make you feel more comfortable. You can also try breathing exercises, positive visualization, or sedative medication like Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) to help you relax.

Cause 4: Inflammation or Infection

Inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis, or advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, can cause pain, bleeding, or swelling during a cleaning. Gum disease can occur due to poor oral hygiene, genetic predisposition, smoking, or systemic diseases like diabetes.

Solution 4: Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential in preventing, diagnosing, and treating gum disease. Your dentist may need to perform a deep cleaning, antibiotic treatment, or in severe cases, surgery to remove infected tissue and promote healing. Early detection and prevention of gum disease can help reduce the need for painful treatments down the line.

Cause 5: Dental Work

Dental work like crowns, braces, or implants can increase the likelihood of pain during a cleaning. These treatments can create tight spaces or sharp angles that make it challenging to clean teeth thoroughly.

Solution 5: Regular Follow-Ups

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are crucial to maintaining the health of your oral cavity, especially after significant dental work. These procedures allow your dentist to monitor the condition of any restorations and ensure they're functioning correctly without causing pain or discomfort.


Teeth cleaning doesn't have to be a painful or traumatic experience. By understanding the causes of pain, practicing good oral hygiene, communicating with your dentist, and seeking early treatment if necessary, you can make every dental visit a comfortable and positive experience. Remember, your oral health is essential for the health of your body, and preventive care is always the best cure.

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