Smiling young woman receiving dental checkup.
Badge field

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive After A Dental Cleaning?

Practising great oral care not only involves brushing twice a day and flossing daily—it also means visiting your oral care provider for a professional cleaning every six months. While these visits are usually painless and quick, they can sometimes leave your teeth feeling sensitive, especially if you received a deep cleaning.

These sensations generally fade over time and don't indicate anything serious.

Here’s a look at why you have sensitive teeth after a cleaning and what you can do if this feeling lasts longer than expected.

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive After A Cleaning?

Teeth sensitivity happens when the dentin, which is the layer beneath your enamel, becomes exposed due to receding gums. Remember—your roots don’t have enamel to protect them, so anything that comes in contact with them (such as dental tools) may cause sensitivity. While several factors contribute to tooth sensitivity, dental cleanings are a known cause, as your dental care professional may probe your gums and use tools that come into contact with sensitive areas of your teeth.

Deep Cleaning

Not every dental visit will involve a deep cleaning. According to the United States University of Michigan Health Library, you may need a deep cleaning when your gums have started to pull away from the teeth and to create pockets where plaque can get trapped. When your oral care provider performs this procedure, which is also known as scaling and root planing, they’ll remove tartar and rough germs that have calcified on your teeth in these pockets. According to the American Dental Association, scaling is when your oral care provider removes the plaque and tartar above and below the gumline using special tools. Planing is when they smooth out your teeth’s roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth. 

Before a deep-cleaning session, the gums may be sensitive and swollen or have deep pockets affected by germs. Both scaling and root planing help treat these problems, but this treatment can lead to pain after the cleaning due to natural discomfort and sensitivity. The dentist may offer a local anaesthetic if your deep cleaning is likely to be more irritating than usual.

What Happens Next?

It’s normal to experience sensitivity after a deep cleaning, which can last up to a week. Soreness and pain may also linger for a few days as your gums may be swollen or tender. Your oral care provider may prescribe an antibiotic or mouth rinse to manage any pain and treat any possible issues.

Caring for Deep-Cleaned Teeth

Taking good care of your teeth after a deep cleaning treatment helps your gums heal by reducing the common triggers of pain and sensitivity. Wait at least a day before flossing, and brush your teeth carefully with a soft-bristled toothbrush while your gums are still sore. Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth to help treat and prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid eating foods or drinking liquids that set off your sensitivity. If your teeth are sensitive three or four weeks after treatment or you have other concerns, contact your dentist for a follow-up visit. He or she can check that your gums are healing well.

How to Avoid Teeth Sensitivity

One way to avoid teeth sensitivity after a deep cleaning is to look for ways to improve your current day-to-day oral care routine. In addition to brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily, avoid aggressive or hard scrubbing when brushing. You should also try to avoid acidic foods and drinks, which can lead to enamel deterioration (though using a straw can help mitigate that risk, as well as drinking water after an acidic beverage). If you grind your teeth, your oral care professional can provide you with a mouthguard that can protect you from grinding down your teeth and causing sensitivity. 

While teeth sensitivity is uncomfortable, it’s a normal and usually temporary side effect of a cleaning. But if your symptoms last longer than a few weeks, you should contact your oral care provider to talk about your concerns.

Remember, teeth cleanings (and deep cleanings) are easy and excellent ways to maintain great oral health and prevent cavities. Even though your teeth might be sensitive after a cleaning, don’t worry. This is likely normal and temporary, and you’ll soon be on your way to a healthier smile.

Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now