Signs of Infection After Dental Cleaning


A cosmetics dentist has just cleaned your teeth.

But what if something doesn’t feel quite right afterward? Your mouth is sore, your gums are tender…could you have an infection brewing?

It’s crucial to monitor your mouth closely in the days following a professional cleaning. While rare after a cleaning, infections can happen. Recognizing their early signs is important as far as treatment is concerned.

So, what should you be looking for? Here is what to know.

Early Post-Cleaning Infection Signs

Early signs include:

  1. Pain and Swelling – Some discomfort is normal right after cleaning as your gums may be a bit inflamed and irritated. But if the pain persists beyond a day or two and worsens, watch out. Severe, throbbing pain and significant swelling of the gums can signal an infection taking hold.
  2. Bleeding – Your gums may bleed a little right after cleaning, but bright red or excessive bleeding a day or more later is a red flag. Infected gums will likely bleed more easily.
  3. Bad Taste or Odor – A temporarily funny taste in your mouth can happen after a cleaning. But if an abnormally bad or bitter taste or odor persists or arises later, it may indicate infection. Bacterial infections often cause these unpleasant signs.
  4. Fever – While mild, it’s wise not to ignore a low-grade fever after a recent cleaning, as it can suggest your body is fighting an oral infection – this is one of the most common oral infection symptoms.

If you experience any combo of these signs, don’t ignore them. Left unchecked, an infection can quickly escalate.

After Dental Cleaning Complications to Watch For

In some cases, an oral infection stems from the cleaning itself if it causes excessive trauma or irritation to your gums. This creates an entry point for bacteria. This makes identifying dental cleaning issues early on, so important.

Other complications from the cleaning procedure could also lead to post-cleaning infection signs, and this includes:

Over instrumentation

If your dental hygienist used too much force with the metal tools during your cleaning, sensitive gum tissues may have been nicked or torn. These wounds increase vulnerability to bacterial invasion.

Poor Technique

Improper scaling techniques that lack finesse or apply excessive pressure can also lacerate gums and create portals for infection. This highlights the importance of only having cleanings done by highly trained professionals.

Dry Socket

Sometimes after deep cleaning around the wisdom teeth or other extractions, a dry socket can develop – where the blood clot is dislodged from the socket prematurely. The exposed bone acts as a magnet for infection.

Fluoride Sensitivity

While fluoride treatments can fortify teeth after a cleaning, some patients experience oral sensitivity or even chemical burns to soft tissues if saliva isn’t suctioned properly.

Any of these post-cleaning infection signs and complications can set the stage for op

Recognizing Spreading Post-Cleaning Infection Signs

If warning post-cleaning infection signs continue or worsen in the days after your cleaning, it could indicate things are progressing. Don’t sit idly by if you notice:

Worsening Pain and Swelling

Severe, spreading pain, redness, and swelling affecting larger areas of your gums, jaw, and even face or neck are textbook signs of an advancing oral infection.

White Gum Abscess

A white, pus-filled abscess or boil on the gums.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Tender, swollen lymph nodes under the chin or jaw.

High, Persistent Fever

Any fever over 100°F, especially if accompanied by body aches, chills, or nausea.

Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing

If throat or facial swelling makes swallowing solid food difficult or breathing becomes impaired, the infection is likely severe and even life-threatening if it tracks into deeper tissues.

At this stage, what may have started as a minor gum infection could escalate into a widespread, systemic crisis requiring IV antibiotics or even hospitalization if sepsis occurs.

When to Call the Dentist

Play it safe – contact your holistic dentist at the first hint of post-cleaning infection signs. Describe your symptoms fully.

Chances are, if it’s just minor gum inflammation or irritation, they may advise sticking to soft foods, using saltwater rinses, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and see if it resolves on its own within a couple of days.

But if feverish or showing signs of spreading infection, they’ll want to see you promptly to have it evaluated and start antibiotics immediately before it progresses.

Getting It Under Control

If diagnosed with a true oral infection, here’s what your treatment plan may involve:

Dental Antibiotics

Your dentist will likely start you on antimicrobial rinses like chlorhexidine (Peridex) and prescribe oral antibiotics to directly attack the bacterial infection, especially if there is swelling or fever. Amoxicillin, clindamycin, or azithromycin are common picks.

Incision and Drainage
For localized abscesses, they must make an incision in the area and drain the pus to relieve pressure, pain, and inflammation, then thoroughly flush the site.

Pain Medication

To increase comfort during the initial stages before antibiotics kick in, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen may be prescribed.

Oral Probiotics

Restorative oral probiotics containing beneficial bacterial strains can help rebalance the microbiome disrupted by antibiotics.

Vigilant Hygiene You’ll need to be diligent about gently Teeth brushing with soft bristles, using antimicrobial rinses and saltwater swishes multiple times daily to keep the area clean while it heals.

Follow-Ups Your dentist will have you return over the next week or two to ensure the infection is fully resolved with treatment and no further intervention is needed.

With prompt care, most oral infections after cleanings can be swiftly cleared up before becoming too serious. The key is spotting symptoms early and taking action right away.

Preventing Oral Infections

While infections are never 100% preventable, there are ways to stack the odds in your favor after a dental cleaning, including:

  1. Choose an Experienced Hygienist

Having your cleaning done by a highly skilled and well-trained dental hygienist lessens trauma and over-instrumentation risks. Don’t settle for inexperienced cleaners.

  1. Healthy Gums Matter

Maintaining excellent gum health to start makes infections less likely since bacteria are less likely to gain a foothold. Brush, floss, and use antimicrobial rinses daily.

  1. Up Your Oral Probiotics

Loading up on oral probiotic lozenges or rinses before and after cleaning can replenish protective bacterial flora.

  1. Consider Herbal Remedies

Herbs like chamomile, green tea, and clove have natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that may aid healing.

  1. Prioritize Rest and Self-Care

Allow your body to marshal its defenses by getting adequate sleep and reducing stress after cleaning when your mouth is in recovery mode.

With some preventive steps and vigilant monitoring, you’ll be well-prepared to nip any potential post-cleaning infection right in the bud before it spirals into something more serious.

Contact Us

If you need proper dental cleaning or are experiencing early signs of an infection after a dental cleaning, we can help. We have extensive experience handling dental cleanings and helping people just like you recover from post-cleaning infections. Let us help restore your oral health by calling (713)-364-1985 to book an appointment.