How Do Dentists Reduce Discomfort for Patients With Sensitive Teeth During Cleanings?

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    Dentist Magazine

    How Do Dentists Reduce Discomfort for Patients With Sensitive Teeth During Cleanings?

    In our quest to alleviate the discomfort experienced by patients with sensitive teeth, we've gathered insights from top dental professionals. From applying sensitivity toothpaste before cleaning to using hand scaling techniques, explore the five methods shared by Registered Dental Hygienists and clinic owners.

    • Apply Sensitivity Toothpaste Pre-Cleaning
    • Polish with Medicated Prophy Paste
    • Avoid Direct Water Spray
    • Schedule Regular Visits and Use Desensitizing Paste
    • Use Hand Scaling Techniques

    Apply Sensitivity Toothpaste Pre-Cleaning

    Having sensitive teeth can be really tough. As a dental hygienist, I want to provide you with the best experience and cleaning possible. For patients with sensitive teeth, one of my tricks is to apply sensitivity toothpaste to affected areas, such as areas of gum recession and/or wear of the enamel. I leave it on for a few minutes, then proceed with the cleaning. It works like a charm!

    Carolina Guillermo
    Carolina GuillermoRegistered Dental Hygienist

    Polish with Medicated Prophy Paste

    To help patients reduce sensitivity during dental prophylaxis, I polish with a medicated prophy paste throughout the mouth prior to using hand instruments. This gives the patient temporary relief of sensitivity to allow the hygienist to properly scale their teeth. Since this is only temporary relief for the patient, other sensitivity-reducing options should be discussed for patients who have continued sensitivity outside of the dental office. In addition, I use light pressure when scaling, and I allow the patient to rinse with warmer water by spraying water on the floor of their mouth to allow them to swish.

    Kathi Hunger-SandersRDH, PHDHP, CSDH, Red Lion Area School District

    Avoid Direct Water Spray

    These are two of the strategies I use to help reduce discomfort during cleanings for patients with sensitive teeth.

    First, is avoiding direct water spray. Directly spraying water onto sensitive teeth can trigger discomfort, so asking the patient to swish water themselves can give them more control over the process and minimize sensitivity.

    Second, is pre-polishing with fluoride paste. Applying a fluoride paste before polishing can help desensitize the teeth by coating them with a protective layer of fluoride. This can reduce sensitivity during the cleaning process and improve patient comfort.

    Implementing these techniques helps build trust with your patients by catering to their needs and ensuring a more comfortable experience during their dental cleanings.

    Emma MorrisRDH, VP of Ambassador Programs, BURST Oral Care

    Schedule Regular Visits and Use Desensitizing Paste

    For patients experiencing sensitivity during dental cleanings, it's essential to prioritize regular dental visits every six months. This consistent schedule allows your dentist and hygienist to monitor your oral health closely and address any sensitivity issues promptly. Additionally, using a desensitizing toothpaste in the weeks leading up to your appointment can significantly reduce discomfort during your dental cleaning. Desensitizing toothpastes work by blocking nerve pathways and soothing sensitive areas, making your cleaning experience more comfortable and effective. Remember, proactive care and preventive measures are key to maintaining optimal oral health and minimizing discomfort during routine dental visits.

    Shelley KeiserRDH VP of Ambassador Programs, BURST Oral Care

    Use Hand Scaling Techniques

    One great way to make teeth cleanings more comfortable for people with sensitive teeth is by using a technique called "hand scaling" or "hand instrumentation" instead of using ultrasonic scalers. Hand scaling involves using manual instruments such as scalers and curettes to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth.

    With hand scaling, the dentist has more control over how hard and fast they clean, so they can avoid hurting sensitive areas. They can also be more careful when cleaning around those spots to prevent irritation.

    Taking breaks during the cleaning can also help people relax and feel less uncomfortable. This gives them a chance to tell the dentist if something hurts so the dentist can adjust what they're doing.

    Overall, using hand instruments and being gentle and considerate during cleanings can make a big difference for people with sensitive teeth, without needing to use strong chemicals.

    Beth Vander Schaaf
    Beth Vander SchaafOwner, Smile Arizona Dentistry