A person’s teeth may not make a significant proportion of their body, but oral health is more important than most people realize. Oral health not only offers a glimpse of someone’s general health but affects it too. The connection between the mouth and the rest of the body is so strong such that oral health problems can lead to health complications elsewhere in the body, Dentist in Mt Gravatt Pure Dentistry says.
As with most parts of the body, the mouth is a hub for bacteria, albeit most are harmless. However, since it provides access to the respiratory and digestive tracts, it gives bacteria an entry point to other areas. Poor oral health increases the risk of conditions such as:
Pregnancy and birth complications
On the other hand, conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis affect oral health.
Despite its importance, oral health is often an overlooked aspect of general health. Approximately 3.9 billion people across the globe are affected by oral diseases. This stems from a failure to practice good oral hygiene daily and skipping dental cleaning. Oral conditions rank high among the most expensive conditions to treat. However, it’s not costs that prevent most people from going for the recommended regular dental cleaning; it’s the fear of dental pain.
In this whitepaper, you will find out whether dental cleaning should be painful, the cause of such pain, and how to prevent it.
Should Dental Cleaning Hurt?
Most people hate dental cleaning as it can be invasive and painful. However, not unless there are complications, it should be a painless process. The two primary causes of pain during a dental cleaning are poor oral hygiene and not attending dental cleaning as recommended.
Dental cleaning does leave people with a brighter and whiter smile, but that’s not the primary reason for doing it. Good oral hygiene ensures teeth and gums remain healthy by preventing a buildup of calculus. Also known as tartar, calculus is the plaque that forms over your teeth, creating an additional layer. However, it’s not always possible to get it all out. Over time, there will be a slow buildup of calculus, which should be removed by a dental cleaning.
If good oral hygiene practices are not observed or calculus is allowed to build up for an extended period, more effort will be required to remove it. This is why most people feel such procedures are highly invasive and painful.
Also, high amounts of plaque and bacteria increase gum sensitivity and cause inflammation which makes bleeding easier. If the situation persists, it can lead to periodontal disease, which can range from simple gum inflammation to serious conditions that can damage the soft tissue and bone that provides support for teeth.
With such conditions, the likelihood of a dental cleaning procedure being painful increases significantly.
How to Prevent Pain at the Dentist
Not unless there are other conditions in play, a person who observes good oral hygiene and goes to scheduled dental cleaning, should not feel pain. For those that have not been observing good oral practices and skipping dental cleaning sessions, there may be some pain. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the pain. And, the benefits of the temporary pain and discomfort you’ll feel will far outweigh the risk of not receiving dental cleaning.
1. Switch Toothpaste
Factors such as age, consuming acidic drinks, and poor oral hygiene causes teeth to wear down and gum recession. As a result, the inner parts of teeth and roots become highly sensitive to hot, cold, and sugary foods and drinks. During dental cleaning, this increased sensitivity will result in sensations of pain and discomfort.
In the weeks before your dental cleaning, switch to a desensitizing toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate. To desensitize teeth, potassium nitrate penetrates the tubules in teeth to block signals from pain receptors. For it to fully penetrate your teeth, it is advisable to use a desensitizing toothpaste for at least three weeks before visiting your dentist.
2. Do Not Over Brush
Brushing is an essential part of oral hygiene. However, there’s a limit to how much one should brush. Attempting to compensate for months of inadequate brushing in the short period before dental cleaning increases the chances of experiencing pain, Dr Soha Sharif Brisbane Kids Dentist says..
Brushing excessively or aggressively can lead to:
Tooth Abrasion – A condition that is brought about by the progressive loss of tooth enamel caused by mechanical action. Such mechanical action includes heavy-handed and incorrect brushing techniques that put pressure on the junction between the crown and root. Abrasive toothpaste and hard-bristled toothbrushes may also lead to tooth abrasion.
Tooth sensitivity – Abrasion or erosion leads to thinning of the enamel, thus exposing the nerve endings in the dentin layer. With this exposure comes increased sensitivity to hot and cold beverages and foods.
Gum recession – The root of a tooth is covered by a soft, calcified layer called cementum. Overbrushing or bad brushing techniques can lead to gum recession which exposes the cementum. Once exposed, the cementum can be notched easily, wear out, and is vulnerable to decay; all of which increase tooth sensitivity. Also, when gums recede, they may not return to the original form, and extreme cases require periodontal surgery.
3. Use an Electric Toothbrush
Many conditions that affect the gum and teeth are caused by bad brushing techniques such as aggressive brushing. One of the best ways of preventing such issues from affecting you is by using an electric toothbrush. Not only will an electric brush reduce damage and discomfort caused by brushing, but it may also do a better job of cleaning your teeth.
An electric toothbrush has bristles that rotate or vibrate to help remove plaque buildup on teeth and gums. Such vibrations lead more micro-movements of bristles on teeth compared to manual brushes, translating to better results. All you need to do is hold the brush gently over the teeth and let it do the brushing.
The benefits of using an electric toothbrush include:
Better at removing plaque
Have built-in timers to ensure you brush for the appropriate duration
Improves focus during brushing
Safe for gums
Reduces waste as only the head is replaced
Suitable for people with mobility challenges
Along with such benefits also come some cons. First, the cost of buying an electric toothbrush is much higher than manual brushes. And, the replacement heads of electric toothbrushes come in sets that cost between $10 and $45.
Also, finding the right replacement brush heads can be challenging as not all stores stock them and those that do, do not have all brands.
4. Use Fluoride
Fluoride is a chemical ion of fluorine that exists naturally in soil, rocks, and water. Presence of fluoride compounds in your mouth helps prevent cavities and make your teeth feel stronger. When negatively charged fluorine is exposed to a positively charged ion such as sodium, it becomes an aggressive cavity combatant.
After eating foods such as candy, noodles, and crackers, bacteria begin feeding on the carbohydrates. As this happens, acid is created. This acid strips your teeth of phosphate and calcium, leading to the formation of cavities. Though the calcium present in saliva disrupts the attack and replenishes the calcium and phosphate that has been stripped away, it is not enough to counteract the effects.
This is where fluoride comes in. When fluoride is present in saliva, it combines with calcium and phosphate to form a strong defensive unit that prevents tooth decay and makes teeth stronger.
Fluoride helps combat tooth decay by:
Strengthening the tooth enamel
Lowering acid levels in the mouth
Reduces tooth sensitivity
Rebuilds the minerals that strengthen teeth
Fluoride can be found in a wide range of sources such as:
Gels and foams
5. Take Ibuprofen
During a dental cleaning, plaque buildup can cause swelling in the gums leading to pain and discomfort. To reduce pain, take ibuprofen one hour before going to the dentist. You can take another one six hours after the session. However, before taking ibuprofen, you should consult your physician as people with bleeding problems are not allowed to take it.
6. Enquire About Numbing Options
Dental cleaning causes many to feel nervous and fearful because of the possible pain and discomfort they may experience. This is perfectly normal, and there are ways to go around it. Reach out to your dentist before your appointment to notify them of your anxiety and find out what options are available to help you feel comfortable.
If pain is your biggest worry, ask your dentist to numb you for the cleaning as would happen with a filling.
It Starts and Ends with Good Oral Hygiene
The easiest way to ensure that dental cleaning is painless is by improving oral hygiene. Make it part of your daily routine to brush twice and floss daily. Also, make sure you go for a dental cleaning once every six months.