A deep cleaning is not always a fun thing, depending on how well you have been taking care of your teeth. The process takes some time and you will be sore later but that part is expected… so what do you need to do? In this article we will discuss deep cleaning aftercare in order to give you a better idea of what to expect, what to eat afterwards, and what you can do to help with the pain. Let’s talk about deep cleanings!
Why did I need a deep cleaning anyways?
Sometimes even after our best efforts of keeping up with good oral hygiene the need can arise for a deep cleaning. So, is this like a regular cleaning? Actually, no, it’s a very specific process. Deep cleaning is called for when there is a space of 5 millimeters or more in areas between the tooth and gum. These are called ‘pockets’. These Pockets are signs of periodontal disease and in order to combat it, a cleaning strategy needs to be implemented by your dentist which will remove the plaque and tartar in these spaces, preparing them so that proper care following the deep cleaning may result in these pockets closing and thus healthier gums. While the process is not 100% guaranteed to remediate the issue, cleaning these areas gives you the best chance of mitigating the damage which has already been done and in conjunction with good oral hygiene (and possibly some medication from your dentist) then this can help to get things under control.
The actual terminology for a deep cleaning is ‘scaling and root planing’. The ‘scaling’ portion of a deep cleaning involves removing the tartar and plaque from the surface of your teeth and then from the pockets between tooth and gum as well. This is followed by the root planning, which involves a special instrument which your dentist uses to remove plaque and tartar from the vulnerable roots of your teeth. The whole process is not done in one session, but rather two, so you will need to schedule an adequate amount of time off from work to cover your visit and recovery. Thankfully, while soreness follows, in most cases you are going to be back in work fairly quickly, perhaps even the next day unless you are extremely sensitive. There are some things that you will want to do and some things to avoid, however, following this process, in order to ensure swift and clean healing.
What happens after a deep cleaning?
After you have made it through the grueling process of a cleaning we have a nagging feeling that it is something that you will not want to go through again. This is not just because of the procedure but because of the time after as well. Following a scaling and root planning you may expect the following:
- Sensitivity to heat and cold – You might find that you are sensitive to heat and cold for a few days following the procedure. Don’t worry, this will pass, but you may want to avoid any food or beverages that are very hot or cold until they have had a little time to adjust to the surrounding temperature.
“Avoid any food or beverages that are very hot or cold.”
- Mild discomfort – There may be some pain following the procedure, mostly general soreness, but this should pass after a few days and can generally be dealt with via over-the-counter medication (Ibuprofen is good, stay away from Aspirin, as it can contribute to the the next item!)
- Bleeding – Bleeding is completely normal for at least a few hours following the procedure. That said, if it continues beyond a few hours then you will want to contact your dentist immediately in order to determine why this is occurring.
- Possible swelling – While rare, swelling can occur following a deep cleaning. If this happens, try using a salt water rinse by adding ¼ teaspoon of salt to about 8 ounces of water. Try this 2-3 times per day and if you are still experiencing swelling then you will want to contract your dentist.
What can I eat after a deep cleaning?
Following a deep cleaning you will want to make sure that you watch what you eat and drink. Avoid food and beverages of extreme temperature, avoid alcohol and spicy foods for at least 24 hours, and for the next 3 to 4 days it is a good idea to stick to soft, non-sticky foods. You will want to avoid any hard foods your gums are still very vulnerable and you don’t want to retard the healing process. Aside from food and drink rules, If you are a smoker you should try to take 24 hours off from smoking if at all possible and do the same for exercise. Smoking slows down the healing process and exercise can put undue strain on your gums, so take it easy for a day if you can. You’ve earned it!
What can I do for pain following a deep cleaning that doesn’t require chemicals?
In a pinch, there are a few things around the house which you can use for pain management. Some good examples include:
- Chamomile teabags – Make yourself a cup of tea and set the teabag aside to let it cool down a little, then place it between lip and gums in the area that it hurting. The tannins in the tea have antibacterial properties and the chamomile can relax that pain a little.
- Peppermint extract – Make a rinse with 3-4 stops of peppermint extract to one tablespoon of water. Rinse with this and it will soothe the pain in your mouth while making your breath minty fresh!
Today we’ve talked about deep cleaning teeth aftercare in regards to what you should do following the process. Beyond what we have mentioned we recommend a new toothbrush and soft brushing for follow up cleaning at home. Beyond this, just be patient, and you’ll heal up in no time!