Is Deep Teeth Cleaning Painful?
During your routine dental examination, your dentist assesses the health of your oral cavity and teeth with a few different tools and measurements. A visual evaluation helps determine whether there is any swelling or bleeding in any areas of the gums, and manual examination gauges whether any teeth are loose or mobile. Your dentist will also measure the depth of the space between the gums and teeth with a specialized probing instrument and will review the density and shape of the bones and position of the teeth with dental x-rays. Using these evaluative measures, your dentist may determine that you need a dental deep cleaning treatment. This treatment is used to remove tartar and plaque that has built up below the gum line and around the roots of the teeth and to modify the surfaces of the tooth roots to help them connect with the gums without interference. When left unaddressed, the accumulation of tartar below the gum line will lead to continued inflammation of the gums and spread to cause inflammation in the bones, pain in the gums and teeth, and, eventually, bone loss and tooth loss.
The dental deep cleaning treatment is thorough and intensive, and it’s common to experience some soreness and sensitivity following the procedure. There are two different procedures included in a dental deep cleaning treatment – scaling and root planing – and each treatment uses specialized dental tools designed to fit into tight areas and to scrape thoroughly yet safely. Because these cleaning treatments are so thorough and because the dentist is cleaning deep below the gum line, dentists use local or topical anesthetic to numb the area before beginning treatment. This prevents any pain from occurring during treatment, though patients can still feel pressure or friction during treatment. A deep cleaning treatment usually requires at least two dental visits but may require four, and each dental visit can be expected to last an hour or two. In many cases, dentists will treat one quadrant or one half of the mouth at each treatment, so that they can avoid numbing the entire mouth at once and to reduce the risks associated with the treatment. During the scaling treatment, your dentist scrapes away any trace of plaque and tartar from above the gum line. For the root planing treatment, your dentist similarly scrapes plaque and tartar on the roots of the teeth, reaching deep below the gums with a fine-tipped, sharp scraping tool.
The level and duration of discomfort following a deep teeth cleaning will depend in part on the severity of the damage, the anxiety level of the patient, and whether there are other medical conditions present that can complicate the procedure. Immediately following a dental deep clean, it’s common to feel some discomfort and sensitivity, though this should subside within a few days. Within a week, symptoms should subside, though the gum tissue will continue to heal for several months. As it heals, you’ll notice that your teeth will feel more secure in your mouth and that your gums are no longer swollen or irritated. The bad breath and bad taste that often accompany gum disease will diminish, and you’ll notice less bleeding while brushing and flossing and less tooth sensitivity. Best of all, if you were experiencing pain or discomfort due to gum disease, deep teeth cleaning can eliminate this pain and restore the oral tissues to comfortable health. While the procedure does cause some discomfort during healing, healing times are brief, and, for many patients, this discomfort is a small price to pay for a future free from the pain and complications of untreated gum disease.