It is surprising how often we get asked this question in our practice! Can a cleaning damage tooth enamel? The short answer is no.

During a cleaning at the dentist’s office, it can feel like teeth are being damaged or over-scraped. The scraping sound and sensation of the cleaning tool can also be uncomfortable. After a cleaning, teeth can also feel more sensitive to hot and cold as well as liquids and food. But these sensations are not an indication that tooth enamel has been damaged or scraped off.

Dental cleanings remove plaque and calculus that won’t come off with daily brushing. When the tongue touches a newly cleaned teeth, it feels different because the buildup of plaque and calculus (and not enamel) has been removed from the tooth surface. Sensitivity after a cleaning is the result of areas previously covered by plaque and calculus being exposed. While the sound and sensation of scraping can be unnerving, but this is normal.

We always try to keep our patients as comfortable as possible during dental cleaning appointments. Some patients have very sensitive teeth and there are strategies we can use to reduce this sensitivity during and after the visit. If you have any concerns about getting your teeth cleaned, don’t hesitate to let us know. We are happy to answer any questions you may have! 

Source: Canadian Dental Association CDA Oasis Mythbusters April 2019