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Teeth Hurt After Cleaning - Causes And Prevention

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Your teeth hurt after a cleaning because you don't regularly get teeth cleanings. However people who do get regular dental cleanings have a different experience because their teeth don't hurt after cleanings. Would you like to know why that happens? Our long island city dentist will explain it all.

teeth cleaning before and after
teeth cleaning before and after

Table of Contents:

What makes my teeth hurt after a cleaning?

The cause of what makes your teeth hurt after a dental cleaning is due to the process of removing plaque and tartar off of your teeth. The amount of soreness that you feel after a cleaning is directly correlated with the amount of tartar that needs to be removed.

Therefore the more tartar that you have, the more sore your teeth will feel afterwards and they may even feel a little loose too!

The reason why tartar removal hurts your teeth is two-fold; First, you will feel the pressure of the instruments scraping off the tartar and second, the tartar actually protects your teeth from sensitivity. The pain does not mean that an infection is brewing either.

The pressure from scraping off tartar

Plaque is soft and can be removed with light pressure but tartar is hard and consequently requires a lot more pressure for it to be removed. The more tartar that you have and the thicker the layers of it, the more pressure it would require to clean your teeth. It is no surprise that your teeth feel sore and tender after the procedure.

This also explains why if you come regularly for your teeth cleaning, your teeth won't hurt after a cleaning because there is a lot less tartar to remove. The less tartar you have, the less pressure is required to clean your teeth and also the less time it will take as well.

Therefore, if you are not consistent with your dental check ups, it is normal to expect some soreness after a teeth cleaning.

Due to how difficult the tartar is to remove, it also explains why you can't brush nor floss it off at home. Once it matures it becomes extremely hard, so hard that it even gives your dentist a difficult time.

Tartar protects your teeth from sensitivity

The tartar is created by bacteria to protect itself from external factors but it also has an unintended consequence of protecting your teeth from sensitivity.

The hard layer of tartar is similar to a nuclear bomb shelter that protects your teeth from sensitivity to cold air. Your teeth get used to this protective effect so once your dentist removes the tartar, your teeth will feel sensitive.

Even though tartar desensitizes your teeth to cold, our LIC dentists do not recommend keeping the tartar on your teeth because the downside to tartar is that it causes gingivitis. If the tartar grows big enough, it can even progress to periodontitis.

Periodontitis is more than just gum disease because it also affects your bones so it is a gum and bone disease. Periodontitis will destroy the bone that your teeth sit in and if you lose enough bone, your teeth will get loose. Loose teeth don't tighten back up so you may end up needing all of your teeth removed. The ultimate consequence of periodontitis is full dentures.

Why do my teeth feel sensitive weeks after a cleaning?

It is normal for your teeth to feel sensitive even weeks after a cleaning because your gums take time to heal from the damage that was caused by the tartar. It most likely took you months to build up all of that tartar so it is not unreasonable for it to take weeks for your gums to heal back to normal.

Before the gums are fully healed, the gums will feel very loose around the teeth and that lets in a lot of cold sensitivity. Once the gums are healed, they will tighten up around the teeth, to help prevent cold air from getting in. This process takes time so please be patient even though your teeth may be sensitive for weeks to come.

Your teeth may remain sensitive for an even longer period of time after a deep teeth cleaning. A deep cleaning is required when there is a significant amount of tartar build up above the gum line and below it. This is a much more invasive and involved procedure so it is normal to expect additional soreness and sensitivity for an extended period of time afterwards.

How do I prevent my teeth from hurting after a dental cleaning?

The best way to prevent your teeth from hurting after dental cleaning is to go regularly for your cleanings and to maintain impeccable oral hygiene at home.

  • Routine dental cleanings. The standard of care is to have your teeth cleaned every 6 months and if you come on schedule, you should have less tartar build up. If you miss your appointments then the bacteria will have more time to build tartar and that will only make your teeth hurt more after the cleaning. Imagine if your last cleaning was 5 years ago, that is a lot of tartar to remove!

  • Maintain impeccable oral hygiene. If you brush and floss twice a day, you will certainly end up with a lot less tartar. The reason is because the plaque is soft and easy to remove but the tartar is not. If you remove all of the plaque, it won't have a chance to turn into tartar. Having less to clean on your teeth will certainly make your teeth less sensitive after the appointment.

Hopefully that answers all of your questions regarding why your teeth hurt after a cleaning. If you have any questions, you can schedule an appointment with one of our dentist in long island city and they'll be more than happy to answer them.



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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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