How To Relieve Pain After Dental Cleaning?

Even on healthy teeth, dental cleaning can be uncomfortable and can leave your mouth and teeth feeling unsettled for hours.

On decayed, damaged, or sensitive teeth, however, it can be a painful experience that can be difficult to cope with. 

How To Relieve Pain After Dental Cleaning?

But what exactly does dental cleaning entail, and what are some of the best forms of pain relief after a rather invasive cleaning session? 

Dental Cleaning

In healthier teeth, cleaning sessions with your dentist can be pretty standard procedures and involve waterpiks, scraping tools, and other implements to remove any minor plaque from between your teeth, in the gum line, and in all those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies that can often be neglected. 

In damaged teeth, though, a good, solid dental clean can be an important way of establishing a good base for improved oral health moving forward, but in really getting in there, and picking and scraping at the teeth and gums, existing discomforts, decay, and sensitivities can be exposed and exacerbated. 

Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil as far as oral health goes. 

Periodontology & Cleaning

In truth, a good deep clean from a dentist can be the only way to sufficiently break down calculus and tartar (mineralized plaque). 

Cleaning can be an effective way to remove bacteria from the teeth, gums, and interdental regions, thus helping to prevent diseases, infections, or any of the more severe complications – like bacterial pneumonia, and cardiovascular problems. 

Tooth Scaling

Also known as root planing, and conventional periodontal therapy, tooth scaling involves the removal of plaque and calculus from the gum line, smoothing of the exposed surfaces of the roots, and removing the cementum and dentine that have become laden with plaque and bacteria. 

This is a good way of removing the toxins that can cause gum disease and more serious ailments, as well as ensuring that the teeth and gum line remain clean and healthy. 

Tooth Polishing

After the scaling, polishing is used to smoothen the rough edges exposed by the surgical implements, remove excess bacteria and plaque which has been left after scaling, and improve the overall aesthetics of the teeth. 

While this can be highly beneficial from a cleanliness standpoint, there are certain adverse effects, such as: 

  • Removal of the outermost, fluoride-rich layer of the teeth. 
  • Potential damage to fillings. 
  • Soft tissue trauma of the gums. 
  • The production of aerosols in the dental office – offers the potential for infectious diseases to be spread. 


If there is a serious build-up of plaque, then you might need debridement – a more rigorous scraping process to remove the build-ups from the teeth. 

This can be done in several ways, ranging from handheld periodontal tools (like scalers and curettes) or to ultrasonic instruments used to fracture the plaque and release it from the tooth surface. 

What Causes The Pain? 

What Causes The Pain? 

Pain tends to occur when deep cleaning is performed on teeth with exposed dentin (calcified tooth tissue), the first sublayer of the teeth, after the external enamel.

Dentin is very sensitive, as anyone with cavities will attest. During the cleaning process, these sensitive areas are touched, prodded, and compressed by the various tools and implements used to get rid of the plaque. 

If you have any exposed roots, these can also be incredibly sensitive due to their close connection to the nerves within the gums and the alveolar bone. 

Pain Relief & Aftercare

The invasive nature of a deep clean can cause major pain if you have existing dental problems that have been exacerbated. 

This is why aftercare is important and should be administered for as long as you deem it necessary. 

Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth

Toothpaste which has been designed for sensitive teeth can be great for easing discomfort and pain after a deep clean and can be great at reapplying thin layers of fluoride to the teeth that had previously been stripped off during polishing. 

These kinds of toothpaste include ingredients such as strontium chloride and potassium nitrate, which can greatly reduce the sensitivity and pain caused by hot or cold sensations on the teeth. 

Rinse With Warm Salt Water

This can be great for itchy, inflamed gums after cleaning, soothing the discomfort of the procedure, and encouraging the healing process to happen more quickly. 

Use Soft Bristled Toothbrushes

A hard toothbrush is no good if you have sensitive gums. If this is the case, softer bristled brushes can be perfect for maintaining the cleanliness of your teeth while giving your sore gums time to heal and relax once more. 

Warm Water With Honey

Used for thousands of years in countless medical practices, honey is great for naturally soothing pain and inflammation, providing the afflicted area with the natural glucose it needs to start the healing process. 

If you drink this two or three times a day following your procedure, make sure you swirl it around your mouth when you do; over time, this will eliminate sensitivity and reduce inflammation caused by the clean. 

Take Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is the most common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug, and, depending on the dosage, it can be taken every five or so hours to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief for aching teeth and gums. 

Is Tooth Sensitivity Common? 

General sensitivity is extremely commonplace thanks to our modern, sugar-laden diets, and after an intense dental cleaning, this can be increased tenfold. 

Luckily we have more products and resources available than ever before to curb feelings of pain and inflammation and reduce sensitivity. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about dental cleaning and the best ways to alleviate pain following the procedure. 

Remember, there is nothing more important than aftercare following a jarring procedure, so be sure to follow the advice given by your dentist, and allow your teeth and gums the proper time to settle and heal.

Andrew Kemp
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