Putting Patients First!

Why Did My Teeth Cleaning Hurt?

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painful-teeth-cleaningHave you ever switched hygienists or waited awhile in between cleanings and noticed a big difference in the pain? Did you leave the office feeling your teeth cleaning hurt too much or missing the good ol’ days when your hygienist was gentle? Let us be the first to say we are not jabbing you with metal probes trying to make you bleed or cause you any unnecessary pain!

But the truth of the matter is, most of the time you are experiencing pain or tasting blood is due to your own poor oral health. Ok ok – I know what you’re thinking. We’re just pointing the finger at you, but let us explain!

When you don’t get professional cleanings every six months or have poor oral hygiene habits at home, you probably have a lot of calculus/tartar buildup. Calculus is actually plaque, that gross furry feeling on your teeth, that has been allowed to cake on your teeth for a long period of time.


If you have more calculus buildup on your teeth, then your hygienist has to work harder to remove it. This added force attributes to the pain you’re feeling. To top it off, your gums become more sensitive and inflamed with the added plaque and bacteria and thus bleed much easier. In some extreme cases, periodontal disease has become a factor and can range from simple gum inflammation to a serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are even lost. See also: Why Do I Need to See a Periodontist?

We are not saying that a gentle hygienist didn’t actually clean your teeth, nor does more pain equal the better cleaning.

It’s a fine line, but educating our patients is top priority. We have seen time and time again where new patients either inquire about the added discomfort or will seem upset after the fact. A lot of the times, it’s because they’ve finally received a thorough cleaning and will need a little time to let their mouth recover. We would never throw anyone under the bus, but it’s important our patients know our ultimate goal is to provide the best level of care.

If this happens to you or you’re concerned of possible pain — speak up! Our hygienists will do their best to warn you when certain pockets of inflammation arise where you could feel more discomfort than usual. There are definitely some hygienists that are more skilled at making this experience more gentle than others, just like there are some patients who may experience less discomfort while receiving the same level of force. There are even some patients that like the pain. We say — to each their own!

“It is our job to help give YOU the best experience at the dentist that we can and knowing your concerns and expectations can help us do our job better!”

To help minimize your pain at future visits, keep up with your daily brushing and flossing, perhaps invest in an electric toothbrush, swish with saltwater a few days before and after the cleaning and add a mouth wash to your daily regimen.