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Are There Disadvantages To Teeth Cleanings?

There are disadvantages to getting your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist or hygienist but these adverse effects are only temporary, benefits outweigh cons. They are transient and mostly due to the mechanical removal of the plaque and tartar in the mouth.

tartar removed from teeth
tartar removed from teeth

With that being said, it is of our professional opinion that the risks of not having your teeth cleaned far outweighs all of the disadvantages. Essentially the benefits triumphs over every minor inconvenience that you may experience afterwards after the procedure.

Table of Contents:

Disadvantages of teeth cleaning

All of the disadvantages for when you get your dental cleaning are due to the aftereffects of mechanically removing the plaque and tartar from the teeth. The removal process is very physical in nature but unfortunately that is the only way to get rid of calculus.

Adverse effects after dental cleanings:

  • Gum bleeding. Your gums may be bleeding for an hour or so immediately after your appointment. That means if you eat afterwards, you may taste a bit of iron from the blood.

  • Sore and tender teeth. The teeth and the gums will feel sore and tender. This is especially true if you haven't had a cleaning in more than 6 months.

  • Teeth sensitivity. Teeth that are covered in tartar actually become less sensitive because the calcium build up covers the sensitive spots and protects them. After the calculus has been removed the teeth will feel sensitive once again.

  • Mild discomfort. It's not unusual to feel mild discomfort after the dental cleaning procedure. The ultrasonic scaler and hand scaling does require quite a bit of force in order to remove the tartar. The teeth will be mildly traumatized.

All of the above are what you would expect to experience right after your appointment. They are certainly not things you'd look forward to having done but that's just how it's going to be.

Risk of foregoing dental cleanings

The primary risk of NOT getting teeth cleanings on a routine basis would be the development of gum disease. The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis and it comes with a plethora of undesirable signs and symptoms.

tartar buildup on teeth
tartar buildup on teeth

Signs & symptoms when foregoing cleanings:

  • Gum inflammation. Gingiva may look swollen, red, and poofy.

  • Easily bleeding gums. Presence of blood when you brush and floss.

  • Tartar build up. Calculus only grows in size and never shrinks without intervention. Severe calcium build up can result in a "calculus bridge" which is very unsightly.

  • Bad breath. Halitosis due to tartar buildup which houses bacterial populations. These bacteria produce a lot of volatile sulphur compounds which contribute to bad breath.

  • Enamel staining. Coffee, tea, and wine drinkers tend to develop extrinsic tooth staining over time. Without professional dental cleanings, these stains will stay on the teeth.

When gum disease is left untreated such as if you never got another cleaning again in your life, it will progress. Your gingivitis will develop into periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease.

teeth staining from lack of dental cleaning
teeth staining from lack of dental cleaning

Why periodontitis is bad:

  • It is more than gum disease because it is also a bone disease.

  • Characteristic hallmark of periodontitis is bone loss.

  • Consequence of losing bone around your teeth is loose teeth.

  • Lose enough bone and the teeth will fall out on their own!

Therefore the biggest downside to never getting a cleaning is the potential development of periodontitis and possibly losing all of your teeth. it is unfortunate because these teeth will have been lost to gum disease and not to tooth decay.

Benefits outweigh all cons

There are many advantages to getting your teeth cleaning on a routine basis. We believe these pros far outweigh all of the cons that come with it.

Advantages to dental cleanings:

  • Stain removal. Tea, coffee, and red wine are notorious for staining teeth and they are incredibly difficult to remove at home. Your dentist can effectively and efficiently remove these stains to make your teeth whiter.

  • Prevents gum disease. Biannual teeth cleanings will ward off gum disease. Your gums will become more resilient to bleeding.

  • Prevents tooth loss. End stage periodontal disease can result in complete loss of teeth. Yes, you can end up in full dentures even if you don't get cavities. Professional debridement of the teeth can prevent tooth loss.

  • Pleasant breath. Less plaque and tartar in your mouth makes for a more pleasant smelling breath. This may break or make your dating life.

  • Improves smile and self confidence. When your breath smells good and your teeth look white, it can drastically improve your smile and self confidence. That is very important for your mental and emotional well being.

Teeth sensitivity after cleaning

A common complaint from patients who finally get a cleaning after many years without one is teeth sensitivity.

The reason why their teeth were not sensitive prior to the cleaning is that the tartar acts as a barrier which prevents the teeth from feeling sensitivity. This lulls you into a false sense of security because it makes you think that there is nothing wrong with your teeth.

However, after the tartar has been removed the teeth now feel sensitive because they're now in direct contact with stimuli. Despite the "symptoms" after the procedure you should still get them cleaned because if you permit tartar to grow, you will develop periodontitis. That is when you start losing bone and eventually lose all of your teeth. Therefore, hiding from your problems is not a solution.


According to our dentists in Long Island City, dental cleanings are good for you because the benefits outweigh all of the disadvantages that come with it.

  • The adverse effects afterwards are mild and transient in nature.

  • The benefits however can prevent gum disease and stop you from losing teeth.

We believe it is a worthwhile endeavor to bear through some mild side effects just so you don't lose all of your teeth to periodontitis. We all need teeth to eat nutritiously and live a wealthy life.



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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