Why Are My Teeth Cleanings So Painful?

Is seeing the dentist for a cleaning something that you don’t schedule as often as you should, or avoid altogether because of sensitive teeth and sore gums? It could be that the real reason for the dilemma is because you’re suffering from gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

 Gum disease is better known as periodontal disease. It’s an infection that attacks the gums, ligaments, and bone around the roots of teeth, causing them to detach and pull away. As a result, common symptoms include:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Swollen, bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth mobility
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Shifting or changes in your bite alignment
  • Tartar buildup

Sensitive Teeth During Cleanings

Some of the most sensitive surfaces of teeth are the roots. When gum disease causes the tissues to pull back (recede) it exposes the root surfaces to changes in temperature, physical stimulation (such as toothbrushing), and bacteria. During a cleaning, the physical removal of buildup from the tooth roots can cause significant amounts of sensitivity for some individuals.

Problems with Sore and Bleeding Gums

Your gum tissues are full of tiny blood vessels. When mild forms of gum disease (gingivitis) set in, the gingiva become swollen and tender. If not quickly reversed though changes in brushing or flossing techniques, the condition can progress into more aggressive forms of periodontitis.

Moderate to severe periodontal disease can cause gums that bleed extremely easily, even when touched with a toothbrush or floss. During a cleaning, such areas tend to bleed quite heavily due to the amount of active infection.

A Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing Could Help

Sometimes called “deep cleanings” or an “SCRP” for short, a scaling and root planing procedure targets your dental infection at its source: below the gumlines. The goal of a deep cleaning is to eliminate the source of what’s causing your sensitive teeth and to avoid tissue detachment. Left untreated, periodontal infections are the leading cause of adult tooth loss.

To keep you comfortable, your dentist will likely recommend using local anesthetic to numb the area being cleaned. Lighter sedations such as nitrous oxide can be extremely helpful, without any of the lingering drowsiness of deeper sedatives.

After your scaling and root planing, you’ll want to plan to see your dentist and hygienist about every 3-4 months for maintenance visits. These easier cleanings help to prevent disease relapse and ensure efficient healing throughout your mouth.

Let Your Dentist or Hygienist Know if it Hurts

Bleeding gums are never normal. While gingivitis or gum disease are often to blame, it can also be a symptom of underlying medical conditions such as anemia.

If your teeth or gums hurt during a routine cleaning, let your dental team know. They’ll take special steps to ensure your comfort so that the preventative procedure is one you’ll feel relaxed about. And for situations involving deep cleanings, be sure to request light sedation like laughing gas, a topical numbing gel, or local anesthetic to completely numb the area.

With soft tissue therapy and routine preventative care, you can avoid the painful dental cleanings you’ve experienced in the past!

Find a Kois Trained Dentist near you.