Is the hygienist supposed to hurt?

Your scheduled dental cleaning shouldn't normally cause you pain. However, there may be factors that complicate it. Gum inflammation, tooth decay, and other symptoms of oral disease can cause increased sensitivity. What's the best way to combat gum disease? Brush your teeth, use dental floss and mouthwash.

It's a very simple solution to such a painful problem. During a cleaning, your teeth can feel very sensitive, more sensitive than usual, and it's due to gum disease. With gum disease, the gums separate from the teeth and reveal the root of the tooth, which is much more sensitive to both touch and hot and cold water. During a cleaning, the hygienist and dentist can prick and puncture this area to remove tartar and other accumulations, but also to examine the depth of the problem.

Mild gum disease is called gingivitis, in which the gum (the fancy word for the gums) is inflamed and tender. The gums are full of blood vessels, and when cleaning utensils touch the inflamed and tender gums, they can burst and bleed. If left uncontrolled, this gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. Some symptoms that could indicate discomfort at a future visit could include gum swelling, tooth decay, or tenderness.

If this is the case, it is important that you undergo an exam with your dentist to evaluate for tooth decay or gum disease before performing the initial scraping. Don't try to resist: ask your hygienist why cleaning hurts and what you can do to stop the discomfort. Perhaps one of the most important strategies for minimizing pain during dental cleanings is to choose your hygienist carefully. During the initial exam, the dentist or hygienist will take measurements of the gum pockets (the space under the gums where dental floss slips during flossing).

The truth is that if you properly care for your mouth by brushing and flossing your teeth every day, and regular visits to the dentist, you won't suffer a painful shock when the hygienist starts working on your teeth. The more informed your hygienist is, the better they can explain to you how to prevent oral pain in the future. This way, your hygienist can perform a thorough cleaning and ensure that there is no tartar left for optimal healing. If it hurts, tell your hygienist or dentist and they'll do everything they can to make sure you're as comfortable and safe as possible.

You've probably heard stories (or experienced yourself) when dental hygienists ask patients how often they floss, only to be told that it's every day while the patient's mouth is full of blood from sensitive gums and that they've never flossed. A deep cleaning can be more of a challenge, so talk to your dentist or hygienist about sedation or other ways to control discomfort during the procedure. The sooner the better, and your dental hygienist will do everything possible to help you get through the process painlessly. Talk if you are an exceptionally nervous patient or have dental anxiety or sensitive teeth so that your hygienist is aware of your problems.

Your hygienist will also perform a basic checkup for any signs of dental disease or other problems. During cleaning, the hygienist will use a small metal scraper to remove tartar from the teeth, both above and below the gum line.