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Dental Hygiene/Tooth damage during cleaning


Denise Teague, RDH, BS wrote at 2009-02-19 22:58:37
Hello Scott,

I am a Registered Dental Hygienist in New Mexico.  Although I cannot say for sure what your dental professional used to clean your teeth, it sounds to me like your hygienist used something called an ultra-sonic scaler to clean the heavy deposit off of your teeth.  It has a metal curved tip that vibrates, sprays out lots of water, and makes a high-pitched sound.  I personally use this instrument regularly on patients with moderate to heavy tartar build up, for patients who have a lot of stain to remove, and for patients who have periodontal disease.  If patients come into our office with heavy build up, I like to show them what it looks like in a mirror before we get started, so they can see a "before" and "after."  Tartar formation is very hard, like a rock, and when you remove it from teeth, it does feel like pieces of tooth, but it is not.  I am not sure how long it had been since you had your teeth cleaned prior to this visit, but if it had been quite a while, it is certainly normal for your teeth and gums to be tender and sensitive.  Warm salt water rinses, taking whatever over the counter pain reliever you would take for normal aches and pains, and very good brushing (gentle and thorough massaging at the gumline), and flossing thoroughly every day will make a world of difference for you.  You should return to have your teeth cleaned again in 3-6 months, or whatever the regimen recommended by your hygienist or dentist.  If you work diligently on your brushing and flossing, your next cleaning should be much easier!  Hope this helps!

Jeffrey Levin, DDS wrote at 2012-12-11 12:04:48
The same caveats apply to my comments as that of Dr. Supan.  Scott, if it had been some time since the last time you have your teeth "cleaned", you may have accumulated a lot a tartar, what we call calculus. This accumulation is frequently found most heavily behind the lower front teeth.  The instrument used may have been a sonic or ultrasonic scaler. The scaler removers the hard deposits on the teeth through very high sound vibration. It sounds like a drill.  It can chip away the hard pieces of tartar leaving a lot of white tooth color looking grit and flakes in your mouth when removed. After removal you will be able to feel the spaces between your teeth that had been covered and filled in by the calculus. This is proper and necessary to provide a healthy environment for your teeth. Thanks for the opportunity to answer your question.  Jeffrey Levin DDS

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Paul Supan, DDS, MA, MPH


Basically anything clinical. I am not able to answer questions about equipment repair. I am also not able to comment on manpower issues, salaries, or legal questions.


I actually hold a Dental Specialty Certificate in the ADA recognized Specialty of Dental Public Health. Dental Public Health, if you do a background check, focuses on prevention of disease. Dental Hygiene is basically prevention oriented and seeks to prevent dental disease (cavities, periodontal gum diseases, etc.) from occurring. I happen at this time also to be the expert on Orthodontics here on allexperts. You can check the type and length of the answers I am providing as well as the feed back. I am a practicing orthodontist, and am constantly evaluating dental hygiene and referring patients back to their dental office to have the hygienist help them with cleaning and maintenance. I also used to be co-editor of my Dental School Newspaper at the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry.

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