April 19, 2023

According to the ADA, biannual cleanings are necessary to have a healthy mouth. You must see your dentist in Atlanta, IL, at least once every six months. Unfortunately, many patients do not follow this recommendation because they fear the procedure will cause pain.  

Generally, professional dental cleanings, also known as prophylaxis, are not painful. However, some people may experience discomfort or sensitivity during the procedure.  

a Dentist in atlanta IL preparing the tools for dental cleaning

Are Dental Cleanings Supposed to Be Painful?

Why Are Dental Cleanings Important?

Dental cleanings are an integral part of maintaining good oral health. Even if you practice good dental habits, plaque and tartar can still build up over time, especially in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. If not removed, this buildup can result in the development of gum disease, cavities, and other dental problems.

During a dental cleaning, a dental hygienist or dentist will remove the buildup of plaque and

tartar using special tools. They will also polish your teeth to remove surface stains and give them a smooth, shiny finish. Removing these substances can help prevent dental issues.

What to Expect During a Professional Dental Cleaning

Before cleaning, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of dental trouble. They may also take X-rays to check for hidden decay or other issues.

Once the examination is complete, the cleaning will begin. Here's what you can expect:


Your hygienist or dentist will use a scaler to scrape off plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. This process may feel like scraping, but it should not be painful.


After scaling, your dentist will use a polishing tool and a special paste to remove surface stains from your teeth. This process may feel gritty, but it should cause pain.


Your hygienist or dentist will floss between teeth to remove any remaining plaque and check for areas that need extra attention.

Fluoride treatment

Finally, your hygienist or dentist may apply a fluoride treatment to help strengthen your teeth and prevent decay.

Depending on the plaque buildup, cleaning should take 30 minutes to an hour.  

Why Do Some People Complain of Pain?

While dental cleanings are usually not painful, some people may experience discomfort or sensitivity during the procedure. Here are a few reasons why this may occur:

There are several reasons why patients may experience discomfort during professional teeth cleaning:

Sensitive teeth

Patients with sensitive teeth may experience discomfort during teeth cleaning because the cleaning may remove the protective layer of plaque and tartar covering the teeth, exposing the sensitive dentin underneath.

Gum disease

Patients with gum disease may experience discomfort during a teeth cleaning because the gums are inflamed and tender. The cleaning process may aggravate the gums and cause some bleeding.

Dental tools

The dental tools used during a teeth cleaning, such as the scaler and polisher, can cause discomfort or sensitivity. The scaler removes plaque and tartar from the teeth, which may cause scraping or poking sensations. The polisher removes any remaining stains on the teeth, which may cause some vibration or pressure.


Some patients may experience discomfort during a teeth cleaning because they are anxious or nervous about the procedure. This can cause them to tense up, making the cleaning process more uncomfortable.

Jaw discomfort

Patients who have to keep their mouths open for an extended period of time during the cleaning may experience jaw discomfort or soreness.

a patient at the Dentist in atlanta IL

Schedule Your Teeth Cleaning With Our Dentist in Atlanta, IL

Overall, while some discomfort during a professional teeth cleaning is normal; it should not be overly painful or cause significant distress. Our team at Smalltown Dental has the experience, training, and knowledge so you can feel comfortable during any procedure. Contact us for an appointment.  

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