Annual and semi-annual dental cleanings are one of the most comfortable procedures out there. They are non-invasive and can be done rather quickly. However, there are some patients who find that they are sensitive and uncomfortable during this procedure. Read on to learn why you might fall into that category and how to improve your visit.
What Causes the Discomfort?
Some patients assume that the dental scaler must be causing their problems. But dental scalers should not be affecting your enamel in any way. When you have a deep periodontal cleaning below the gumline, that's the only time you should feel a little discomfort.
As a hygienist cleans your teeth, he or she is just scraping off tartar buildup and not vital tooth structures. People who experience discomfort or sensitivity likely have thinner enamel, which makes it feel like their teeth are being scraped up.
Enamel thins as you age from natural wear and tear. For instance, if you look at children's teeth, you'll notice that a lot of them still have the mamelons (three bumps on the cutting edge) on their incisors. As you get older, these bumps eventually wear down from use. If you have thinner enamel, you may also notice that your teeth look more yellow, as the underlying dentin may show through.
Besides natural wear and tear, poor oral hygiene also causes thinner enamel. Poor oral hygiene can lead to receding gums, cavities, and broken restorations (like cracked fillings)—all of which can heighten sensitivity.
How Can You Eliminate the Discomfort?
Regular dental cleanings are an incredibly important part of preventative care. Thankfully, family dentists have many ways to help patients get through scaling and polishing.
Before the dentist starts, they can apply a desensitizing toothpaste. They can also apply fluoride at the end of your treatment so that your enamel is less sensitive for future appointments. Some patients feel more sensitive if the ultrasonic scalers use cold water; some dentists can use warmer water to help this issue.
You also have the option of numbing gels. Numbing gels are beneficial for patients that not only suffer from thin enamel, but also from bone loss and/or gum recession. If these fixes aren't working and you are still too uncomfortable with regular cleanings, talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry.
Ask your dentist about ways you can strengthen your enamel. For instance, if you drink a lot of soda, cutting those beverages out may make your teeth less sensitive, as the acids in those drinks strip away vital minerals.
Talk with a family dentist like Parklane Dental in your area for more information on teeth cleanings.
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