I am a patient with moderate recession of my gums and very sensitive teeth, how can my dental cleanings be more comfortable?
Well, there are multiple ways we can help. Have you ever looked at your toothbrush and the bristles look like you’ve been scrubbing the tile grout of your kitchen counter? This is a tale tell sign of brushing too hard. When you are brushing your teeth, don’t push hard. This will cause your gums to recede and expose the roots of your teeth which may be sensitive to touch and cold liquids. Another thing, next time you are at the drug store purchasing a toothbrush, make sure that it is a soft or very soft bristle brush. The harder the brush bristles are the more recession will be created. If you are using an electric toothbrush like a Sonicare or an Oral-b, you want to make sure to just hold and angle the toothbrush on the teeth rather than moving it back and forth like a regular toothbrush. This motion with an electric toothbrush can quickly cause recession and in turn sensitivity. If you are one to have a tendency to brush hard, hold the toothbrush at the very end of the handle. This will make it more difficult for you to push hard.
Once the mechanics have been addressed we can to talk about bacteria. If your gums are sensitive there can be multiple reasons for that. First, we want to make sure that your hygiene is good. Are you brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing every night? Are you getting your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year? Bacteria that accumulates under and around the gums can cause them to be infected, red, and very sensitive. This is called gingivitis. So if it has been a while since you have had a cleaning that would be the first step to decreasing sensitivity and creating a healthy mouth.
Now if all of these previous points have been taken into consideration, we can talk about the different methods of cleaning to create a more comforting dental visit. During your regular cleanings, there are two different methods used. Usually, a hygienist will use a combination of a water scaler, which uses a light ultrasonic vibration and water to remove bacteria and flush the teeth and gums, followed by hand scaling. If your teeth are prone to cold sensitivity then request to have your teeth hand scaled instead of the ultrasonic water scaler.
Lastly, if your hygiene is good, you are maintaining regular recall visits for your cleanings, and your gums are still sensitive, ask your hygienist if a topical anesthetic would be an option for you. The two most common topical anesthetics that are use in dentistry are Benzocaine and Cetacaine. These topical gel anesthetics are just simply applied to the gums with an applicator which temporarily numbs the gums while the teeth are being cleaned. Sometimes just this simple application could be a game changer.