The American Dental Association recommends that you visit your dentist for a routine examination and cleaning at least once a year. Unfortunately, some people put off their yearly visit, because they worry about discomfort. If these concerns are keeping you from visiting your dentist for routine cleanings, here’s what you can do to ensure a more comfortable experience.
Inquire about topical numbing cream
If you suffer from sensitivity or anxiety, ask your dentist or hygienist about topical anesthesia. This will numb the tissue, so you won’t feel discomfort or irritation while the hygienist is cleaning your teeth. This can be especially helpful if you have chapped lips, a canker sore or a small cut on your oral tissue. Be sure to let your hygienist know about any such issue before your cleaning begins, so he or she can take steps to ensure your comfort.
Go more often
If your gums hurt or bleed during dental cleanings, it’s usually a sign you haven’t been brushing and flossing enough. It can also be a sign that you aren’t getting a professional cleaning frequently enough. To ensure that your gums are healthy, be sure to brush twice a day and floss once, adhering to the recommendations from the American Dental Association.
Change your toothpaste
As we age, gum recession can leave the more sensitive inner parts of our teeth exposed. This can leave our teeth more susceptible to cold, hot, sweetness and physical contact during dental cleanings. A good desensitizing toothpaste with potassium nitrate can help reduce root sensitivity. If you notice sensitivity during your appointments and/or in daily life, be sure to talk to your dentist to get recommendations on a good desensitizing toothpaste.
Know your hygienist
Your dental office should have a compassionate team of hygienists and dentists who will make you feel comfortable during every appointment. While it may not always feel great to have plaque and tartar buildup removed from your teeth, a good hygienist will take steps to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
Take ibuprofen before your appointment
If you have significant tartar and plaque buildup, your gums could swell in response to a thorough cleaning. By taking between 600 and 800 mg of ibuprofen about an hour before your cleaning, you can reduce discomfort and inflammation. You should also consider taking another dose about six hours after your cleaning to reduce pain and inflammation after your appointment.
Listen to music
Music can be a powerful distraction, which can keep your mind and senses from fixating on the cleaning process. Ask your dentist if you can listen to earbuds during your procedure. Your favorite playlist or a little peaceful music can help you relax, while also blunting the noise associated with your cleaning. Your dentist or hygienist can tap you on the shoulder if he or she needs your attention.