I am wondering if my dental hygienist may have damaged my teeth using an ultrasonic scaler. I apologize that this post is a bit lengthy, but I figure giving you details up front will mean fewer clarifying questions and more useful responses in the long run. First, I'll explain my experience and then I explain what I have experienced in the time since my cleaning.
At my dentist's office, I generally see whichever hygienist is able to take me because my availability around work doesn't allow me to be too picky. At my last visit, I was seen by a new hygienist I had never had before. She was new to the office and looked quite young (perhaps not long out of school). Once I was in the chair, she proceeded to clean my teeth with an ultrasonic scaler. I had never had my teeth cleaned this way before, but I assumed she knew what she was doing. She did not ask me if this was alright, she did not explain what this process entailed, and she insisted that it was the most effective way for her to clean the build-up along my gum line.
What followed was about 40 minutes of the most excruciatingly painful dental cleaning I have ever had. I do not have particularly sensitive teeth and, while I can't say I have ever found the experience of getting my teeth cleaned to be pleasant, I have never been so close to getting out of the seat and walking out of the dental office. I'm talking digging my nails into the armrest, squeezing my eyes shut, twisting my body, tensing every muscle sort of pain/discomfort here. When I left, my mouth was sore and I was determined to avoid having an appointment with this hygienist ever again, but it never crossed my mind that she may not have been using this tool properly or could have actually caused damage to my teeth.
However, in the time since this cleaning I have looked closely at my teeth and become quite concerned. Let me preface this by saying that my dentist and hygienists have always complimented me on my clean, white teeth and I have taken pride in having a smile that makes many think I have had braces before (I haven't). Now, when I examine my teeth, I can see areas where the color varies dramatically. Also, my gum line seems to have receded on the back side of my lower teeth. The majority of the surfaces of my teeth remain the same color they have always been, a slightly off-white shade, but certain areas are much darker (an even more off off-white I guess you'd call it?). Specifically, if I look along the back side of my lower front teeth, the abutting edges between my teeth and the U-shaped curves where my teeth enter my gums are all significantly darker in color than the rest of the surfaces. Also, on the fronts of my teeth, particularly in spots near the gum line where two teeth meet, there are areas that have also become discolored compared to the rest of my teeth.
I am about to turn 30, have always had great teeth, haven't had a cavity since I was 16, have never had any issues with serious discoloration, and have gone in for regular cleanings since I was 8. In my last cleaning before this, I had no issues, the dentist said everything looked great, and I haven't changed anything in my diet or cleaning habits. Having done some reading/research on ultrasonic scaling, resources say it should be a relatively quick procedure compared to manual cleaning, should require a minimal application of pressure, and should cause little to no pain or discomfort. My experience was much different. This appointment took LONGER than my normal manual cleaning appointments, I felt like the tool was going to pull my teeth out of my mouth, and I was writhing in pain as if I were getting a root canal with no local anesthetic.
Could this hygienist have been using an improper cleaning technique with the ultrasonic scaler? If so, could she have actually caused serious damage to my teeth? It's been a while since this cleaning occurred and, while my mouth no longer hurts like it did immediately afterward, I do experience greater sensitivity to temperature than I used to. I'm concerned about what the long term implications could be. Has anyone else ever had a similar experience? Am I over reacting? Does anyone know for certain whether this sort of thing could result from the improper use of an ultrasonic scaler? What should I do at this point?
Not sure how helpful/clear the photo will be to you. It's tricky to get a picture of the back side of one's teeth, but I think you will be able to see the discoloration and gum recession I was describing.