Painful teeth or sore gums? What it means and what to do

Wally's clinicians discuss what painful teeth or sore gums mean after a trip to the dentist, and what you can do about it. Let's dive in.

Do your gums feel sore after you floss? Do your teeth feel sensitive after a cleaning? Does your jaw feel uncomfortable after a tooth extraction? Our clinicians have seen it all. We'll share what it all means and what you should do to ensure your mouth stays healthy and happy.

Gums hurt after flossing? What it means and what to do.

Floss itself won't hurt your gums, unless you are using improper flossing technique. The most common reasons your gums might be sore after you floss are:

  • Improper flossing technique 🤭
  • Temporary irritation
  • Tooth decay
  • Sensitivity
  • Gum disease

Flossing incorrectly can jab, pull, or pinch your gums causing them to feel sore. The good news is you can avoid the pain with the right flossing technique:

  • Pull out ~18 inches of floss (about the length of your forearm) and wind the ends around two fingers, one on each hand. 
  • You want to dedicate about 1 inch of floss per space so each tooth gets a clean surface of floss. If you don't use enough floss you might move food particles from one tooth to another rather than removing it all together. 
  • Pinch the floss between your fingers so you have a 1-2 inch gap, and pull it taught. Then use your thumb or index finger to guide the floss between teeth. Use whichever finger feels comfortable as a guide 
  • Glide the floss between the teeth using a zig-zag motion. Use the floss to "hug" the sides of the tooth. Go all the way up / down the tooth until you go just below the gum line.
  • Avoid snapping the tooth into the gap between teeth or jamming it up into your gum line.
  • As you move around your mouth, roll out a fresh inch of floss for each tooth to avoid placing bacteria from one part of the mouth to another.

Find out more about other reasons flossing might be hurting your gums, and how you can keep your gums looking and feeling A+ 📖.

Teeth hurt after cleaning? How to know you're alright

Your teeth will feel different after a cleaning - after all your hygienist just removed months of bacteria buildup (biofilm) leaving your teeth silky smooth. But some people also experience a bit of discomfort or even soreness after a cleaning.

If you experience tooth sensitivity during your cleaning, the sensitivity will go away in a few hours or days if your enamel is healthy.

Tooth sensitivity occurs when your dentin, the sensitive yellow layer below your enamel, is exposed. When anything comes into contact with your tooth, like cold beverages or sugary foods, cause sensitivity. That includes dental tools used to clean your teeth. 

But if your teeth are sensitive, that doesn't mean you need to suffer through your cleaning! There are steps you can take leading up to your appointment to help reduce the sensitivity, and there are a few ways your hygienist can help reduce sensitivity during your cleaning.

  • Before your cleaning - Brush twice per day with a remineralizing toothpaste. These toothpastes help remineralize your enamel and close up microscopic holes where acids have eroded the calcium and phosphorus that make your enamel strong. Maintaining a consistent routine with your toothpaste helps your teeth replenish those lost minerals and reduce the sensitivity.
  • During your cleaning - Tell your hygienist that you have sensitive teeth! They will take steps like using a pre-polish with desensitizing paste (like a topical anesthetic), and use warmer water when scaling (aka cleaning) your teeth.

Read more 📖 on tooth sensitivity and gum soreness after your cleaning to find out what it means and how you can avoid it.

Sore throat after wisdom teeth removal and other concerns

Getting your wisdom teeth out is a big deal. And your recovery after is just as important as the actual procedure.

During the healing phase you might notice a few things that seem strange. These might include discomfort from referred pain that radiates to other parts of your mouth or even head and neck. It will seem odd because you're experiencing discomfort somewhere other than where your teeth are removed. 'Reffered pain' is when you feel pain or discomfort in one area but the source of that pain is somewhere different. It's common to experience this on the tooth that's opposite the removed tooth, your jaw, ear, and even neck.

And the most important thing when you get your wisdom teeth removed, or really any teeth removed, is avoiding dry socket. Dry socket happens when your blood clot either doesn't develop or gets dislodged before your socket heals. Your underlying bone and nerve endings are exposed without a cot and you'll experience high levels of pain. Additionally, the healing process slows down because the clot helps your bone regrow and your gums heal over the empty socket.\

Dry socket is the most common complication post-extraction with 2-5% of wisdom tooth extractions getting it. The good news is there are steps you take after surgery to greatly reduce your chances of dry socket:

  • Keep your mouth clean.
  • Decrease physical activity.
  • Manage pain.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Don't suck on anything for 72 hours.
  • Avoid tobacco for 48 hours.
  • Eat soft foods.

Get the skinny 📖 on what to watch out for post-extraction and what you can do to heal safely and quickly.

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