• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

Horrible cleaning experience



Junior member
Sep 27, 2015
I really need some advice here - I can't tell if I'm being too sensitive or if this dentist was out of line.

After 10 years I am finally getting some much needed dental work done. I did not grow up with dental insurance or regular dental visits, so this is all pretty new to me. It started 6 months ago when my tooth cracked, I went to a dentist 5 hrs away since they were the only ones that could get me in on such short notice. They were wonderful. I made 3 trips to 'the city' (10 hr round trip) in order to get my root canal and crown, visited a dentist and endodontist and was in tears with how wonderfully they treated me and how great the work and service was.

Fast forward to now, I finally got an appointment with a local dentist (highest rated on Yelp) and came in for a cleaning. I do not have sensitive gums, I'm a great brusher, I floss, I've never seen tartar on my teeth (though I also haven't looked). Keep in mind I had just gone through one partial root canal (which had to be packed/closed and I waited for 2 weeks before getting it finished), and one full root canal. I just wanted to set you up for the fact that I understand that dental work is not always comfortable. So why the hell was this 'cleaning' so incredibly painful? My mouth was bleeding profusely, I was wincing with every jab, she was literally jabbing me she was moving so quickly. When I told her it was painful she said, "Well, you haven't had a cleaning in 10 years, you didn't expect this to be pleasant?" Umm.. what?

I get that she was rude, but is a cleaning supposed to be that awful? It's been over 24 hrs and my gums are still swollen and painful. I feel like I should write a letter to the office complaining about her behavior. She was also texting her daughter and laughed about some info I shared about my family (when she asked). When she polished my teeth, instead of polishing the front and back of each one, she just rubbed it across the whole length. I left with plaque still on my teeth.

I'm confused, I'm in pain, I paid $200 to basically be abused and made fun of. Again, I get that her behavior was shitty, but was the procedure done poorly as well? Wth does a cleaning actually entail?

Thanks a lot for any incite and advice.
That behavior is not acceptable at all. Definitely complain.

As as for the cleaning. For some it can be an unpleasant experience. I recently went through 4 cleanings. Quarter of my mouth each time. But I was frozen for it so didn't feel a thing. I said to the hygienist at one point that it sounded like it should hurt. She agreed it likely wouldn't be comfortable at all without the freezing. My gums were quite tender for about 3 days after. I hadn't been for 20 years at this point so lots of buildup under the gum line, which is what is uncomfortable.
she was rude, and unprofessional and should not have been texting or laughing at you. But yes 10 years of tarter build up will be painful to scrape off and will cause bleeding.
if you start rinsing with warm salt water your gums will feel better faster, otherwise this uncomfortable feeling may last up to a week.
I agree with the others - her behavior was completely unacceptable.

I recently had my first cleaning in over 20 years, and to be honest, it WAS a little bit uncomfortable because there was SO much tartar and calculus build-up (especially under the gums). The hygienist warned that this might happen and did stress that she wanted me to be comfortable and that it shouldn't be painful, so if it hurt then I should stop her and she could numb me up. I was being stubborn though and didn't want to go through the numbing up process (not a fan of needles), and never reached my breaking point (whatever that was, haha). My gums were a little sore after, and there was a bit of bleeding, but this went away after a day or two.

I did have to go for a second appointment to get rid of the residual bits of calculus and for polishing, and that was a LOT easier since there was far less build-up to scrape off.