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Do Dental Deep Cleanings Hurt?

Posted in General Dentistry

4 minute read

Good oral hygiene is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Regular dental cleanings play a crucial role in achieving this goal, and in some cases, a deeper level of cleaning called a dental deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, may be recommended.

Three images of teeth before and after dental deep cleaning.

Understanding Dental Deep Cleanings

A dental deep cleaning is a non-surgical maintenance treatment recommended for individuals with gum disease, particularly when it has progressed to the early stages of periodontitis.

Gum or periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It can result in symptoms like bleeding gums, gum recession, bad breath, and, in advanced cases, tooth mobility and loss.

A dental hygienist or dentist performs a dental deep cleaning to address gum disease.

The process consists of two main components:

  1. Scaling: During scaling, the dental professional uses specialized instruments to remove the built-up plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from above and below the gumline. This step helps eliminate bacteria and calculus contributing to gum inflammation and disease.
  2. Root planing: Root planing involves smoothing the tooth roots to remove rough areas where bacteria can accumulate. This step encourages the gums to reattach to the teeth and promotes the healing of gum tissues.

What About Deep Cleaning and Pain?

The level of discomfort experienced during a dental deep cleaning varies from person to person and depends on several factors:


Dental professionals typically use a local anesthetic to numb the area before a deep cleaning. Applying local anesthesia involves a needle, which can be painless or cause brief, mild discomfort.

Once the area is numbed, you should not feel pain. Instead, you might feel some pressure and hear scraping sounds.

Gum Sensitivity

Individuals with gum disease often experience sensitivity, making the deep cleaning procedure slightly more uncomfortable. However, local anesthesia should significantly reduce any potential pain or sensitivity during the treatment.

Pain Threshold

Everyone’s pain threshold is different. Some people may find dental deep cleanings entirely painless, while others experience mild discomfort. It’s essential to communicate with your dental professional if you’re feeling pain so they can make adjustments to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible.

Post-Procedure Sensations

After a deep cleaning, it’s common to experience sensations such as mild tenderness, sensitivity, or slight bleeding for a day or two. These post-procedure effects are generally manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers and should subside quickly.

Tips to Minimize Dental Discomfort

To help minimize any discomfort associated with dental deep cleanings, consider these tips:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene – Prevention is the best approach. Regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings can help prevent gum disease from progressing to the point where deep cleaning is necessary.
  • Communicate with your dental professional – If you have concerns or experience discomfort during the procedure, don’t hesitate to communicate with your dental professional. They can adjust the treatment to make you as comfortable as possible.
  • Follow post-procedure instructions – Your dental professional will provide post-procedure instructions. Follow these guidelines carefully to ensure a smooth recovery and minimize any discomfort.
  • Consider sedation options – Some dental offices offer sedation options for individuals with dental anxiety or extreme sensitivity to help patients relax during the procedure. Discuss this with your dental provider if you have concerns.

The Importance of Dental Deep Cleanings

While dental deep cleanings may involve some discomfort, it’s essential to recognize their significance in maintaining your oral health. Without proper treatment, gum disease can progress, leading to more severe issues, such as tooth loss and bone damage.

Additionally, gum disease is linked to systemic disease, and proper dental care can help minimize the risks of developing or aggravating serious illness.

While some discomfort or sensitivity may be experienced during or after the procedure, this typically occurs when gum disease is already threatening your oral health but is still generally well-tolerated and manageable.

Remember that dental deep cleanings can prevent more serious dental issues down the road. So, if you’ve been told you need a deep cleaning or have symptoms of gum disease, schedule a visit with your dentist and prioritize your oral health and overall well-being.

Gum Disease Treatment in Beverly Hills, CA

Dr. Kevin Sands provides top-level dental care in Beverly Hills, California, and offers deep cleanings. While you may know him as a cosmetic dentist to the stars, he is committed to helping all his patients optimize their oral health. Call Dr. Sands Beverly Hills dental office at (310) 273-0111.

Dr. Kevin Sands — building long-lasting dental relationships in Beverly Hills, one smile at a time.