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  • Dr. Chrissie Lam


Experiencing tooth sensitivity after a dental cleaning is not uncommon. In this article, we'll explore the primary reasons behind this sensitivity and provide practical solutions to help you manage it effectively.

tooth sensitivity

Why Tooth Sensitivity Occurs After Dental Cleaning

Dental cleanings, also known as dental prophylaxis, are a crucial part of maintaining excellent oral health. During these cleanings, dental professionals use specialized tools to remove plaque, tartar, and stains from your teeth. While this process is highly beneficial for your overall dental well-being, it can sometimes lead to temporary tooth sensitivity. Here are the key reasons why:

  1. Exposed Dentin Tubules: Beneath the protective outer enamel of your teeth lies a layer called dentin, which contains tiny channels called tubules. These tubules lead to the nerve center of your tooth. Teeth that are sensitive already have exposed dentin tubules, which is why they react to temperature changes and certain foods.

  2. Gum Recession: Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue pulls back from the tooth, exposing the tooth's roots. This can happen due to various factors, including age and improper brushing habits. When gums recede, the sensitive root surfaces become exposed, leading to increased tooth sensitivity, especially after a dental cleaning.

  3. Sore Gums Due to Pre-existing Inflammation: In some cases, individuals may have pre-existing gum inflammation before their dental cleaning. This inflammation can make your gums sensitive and, in turn, affect the overall comfort of your teeth during and after the cleaning process.

  4. Removal of Plaque and Tartar: Dental cleanings effectively remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth. However, the dentin underneath that was previously covered by these deposits is now exposed. This newly exposed dentin can make your teeth more sensitive to various stimuli.

How to Alleviate Tooth Sensitivity After a Dental Cleaning

tooth sensitivity

  1. Use Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth: Consider switching to a toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth. These toothpaste products typically contain desensitizing agents that can help reduce sensitivity in teeth with exposed dentin tubules.

  2. Maintain Excellent Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing and flossing are essential for preventing further sensitivity. Good oral hygiene practices help control plaque buildup and maintain overall oral health.

  3. Temperature Awareness: After a dental cleaning, be mindful of extremely hot or cold foods and beverages for a few days. Extreme temperatures can exacerbate tooth sensitivity

  4. Choose a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush: Opt for a toothbrush with soft bristles to minimize the risk of enamel damage. Gently brush your teeth in a back-and-forth motion.

  5. Fluoride Mouthwash: Incorporate a fluoride mouthwash into your oral care routine. Fluoride can help strengthen tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity when used as directed.

  6. Consult Your Dentist: If your tooth sensitivity persists or worsens, it's advisable to consult your dentist. They can assess the cause and recommend appropriate treatments or desensitizing agents.

tooth sensitivity


Tooth sensitivity after a dental cleaning is usually temporary and manageable. In most cases, this sensitivity should improve within a few days to a week as your teeth adjust to the changes in your oral environment. At Penn Pacific Dental Center, we prioritize patient care and comfort. If you continue to experience tooth sensitivity beyond this period or have any concerns about your dental health, don't hesitate to contact us. We are dedicated to providing you with the best care and guidance to maintain your oral health.

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About Authors


Graduated with honors from the University of California, Davis (U.S.A.), major in biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Yu has further obtained his dental degree (Doctor of Dental Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (U.S.A.).  Dr. Yu is qualified to practice in the US, Singapore and Hong Kong, and has over 10 years of practicing experience in the US before starting both practices in Hong Kong and Singapore.


Dr. Chrissie Lam graduated from University of California, Berkeley (U.S.A.) with a bachelor degree in Nutritional Science before earning her doctorate degree in dentistry from University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (U.S.A.). In her 10 years of practice she took care of her patients, both in U.S.A. and Singapore with her warm demeanor and excellent clinical skills. 

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