Tooth sensitivity is familiar to many people一the sensation of sudden pain or sensitivity that comes from drinking or eating something hot, cold, sweet, or very acidic, or breathing in cold air, is quite common. This is especially true after getting your teeth cleaning here in Asheville.
You can expect to feel a bit of sensitivity in your teeth following a dental cleaning, particularly with a deep clean, but the sensation should fade over time, leaving your teeth and gums healthier than they were before.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
There are plenty of causes of sensitivity in one’s teeth. Sensitivity can occur when the gums have receded enough to expose the underlying root of the tooth, which are not covered by hard enamel. The tooth’s root acts as its nerve center一within each are thousands of tiny channels leading to the pulp. This area can be extremely sensitive when exposed.
The leading causes of tooth sensitivity include:
- Poor oral hygiene – gum recession is often a result of tartar and bacteria build-up
- Brushing too hard – a very common occurrence. About two in three people apply too much pressure when brushing.
- Mouthwash – continual use of mouthwash over long periods of time.
- Nerve damage – This can occur in the teeth and will lead to significant sensitivity.
- Broken, cracked or ground teeth
- Diet – acidic foods and overstimulation by hot or cold beverages can cause sensitivity
- Dental procedures – such as whitening, capping, filling, or cleaning, though this should go away after a brief period of time.
Sensitivity From a Deep Clean
Tooth sensitivity can often be the result of a deep clean performed by your dental practice. To remove tartar and other calcified bacteria from your teeth, your dentist will have to use special tools in a process called scaling.
Your dentist may also use tools to remove tartar from the root surfaces between the gum and tooth roots in a process called root planing. Prior to a deep cleaning, the gums can be inflamed and swollen, and there may even be pockets of infected bacteria within the gums.
While scaling and root planing may result in some irritation and bleeding, they both help to treat problems such as inflamed and swollen gums, and ultimately benefit the overall health of your mouth.
Speak to your doctor about the severity of your cleaning, and they may be able to offer localized anesthesia if your appointment is likely to be extremely irritating.
What to Expect After a Deep Clean
You should expect your gums and teeth to be a bit sensitive after you have a deep dental cleaning. Tooth sensitivity and even some bleeding from the gums are all normal too. Many of these effects are due to contact between the cleaning tools and inflamed gums, which tend to bleed easily. Additionally, deep cleanings will expose areas of the teeth that were previously covered by tartar and are not covered by enamel, so it will take a while for your teeth to adjust to this new area of sensitivity.
Following a cleaning, uncomfortable and sensitive teeth should last no more than a week, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). If you brush carefully and regularly, swollen, tender gums should improve gradually and bleeding should stop. The general discomfort most often associated with dental cleanings should clear up in one to two days. Tooth sensitivity, however, is harder to avoid, but it shouldn’t last longer than a week.
This is especially true when consuming hot or cold foods, as well as highly acidic foods. We recommend sticking with softer foods and avoiding beverages at either temperature extreme. Recommended foods include staples like:
- Mashed potatoes
- Apple sauce
As you feel more comfortable, then you can start reincorporating harder foods like breads and raw vegetables. You should be back to eating whatever you want without any extra sensitivity in your teeth within 2 to 3 weeks.
Caring for Your Teeth After a Clean
Though sensitivity is to be expected following a deep clean, there are still steps you can take to care for your teeth. Our Asheville dentists recommend rinsing out your mouth with warm salt water a 3-4 times a day after the procedure. This type of rinse is a classic that will kill off lingering oral bacteria while also reducing inflammation. Additionally, make sure that you are brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily to keep out the bacteria and support healthier gums.
Allow your gums time to heal by avoiding common triggers of sensitivity or pain.
Brush your teeth carefully with a soft-bristled toothbrush while your gums are still sore, and wait at least a day before flossing. If you there is sensitivity that is still making it difficult to eat or even talk, then we recommend taking an appropriate dosage of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
For anyone who smokes, we also recommend that you avoid smoking for at least 3 days after the deep dental cleaning. Now you also know that we can’t mention smoking without also stating that you should consider quitting if you smoke habitually. As an Asheville dentist, we see a lot of smokers who have advanced gum disease. This is extremely tough to treat.
Were you prescribed some antibiotics after your deep cleaning? If so, then please make sure that you stick to the prescribed dosage schedule. If you quit early, then you run the risk of gum disease returning. Dr. Rebol may also schedule a follow-up appointment to have you come back in a few weeks after your teeth cleaning. We just want to make sure that your teeth and gums are looking great and healing up.
Prevent Future Teeth Sensitivity By Practicing Good Oral Hygiene
It should go without saying that you need to continue to practice good oral hygiene after your teeth cleaning in order to prevent further teeth sensitivity and gum disease. You can start by making sure that you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two full minutes. Use the stopwatch feature on your phone the first few times, because yes we really mean that you should brush your teeth for 2 full minutes. Take care when brushing those areas where your teeth meet your gums. We recommend investing in a good electric toothbrush if you haven’t already.
If you still feel sensitivity three or four weeks after treatment, contact us for a follow up. We can assess your teeth and gums and check that all are healing well. Though sensitivity is something that most patients should expect, it should not last for longer than a month.
If you are interested in setting up an appointment with one of our capable doctors, go ahead and fill out a form here. Rebol Family Dentistry is currently accepting new patients. We look forward to serving more people in the Asheville area!