Teeth Cleaning Gone Wrong?

Hello, I went for a cleaning a month ago. Now I have a gap on my front teeth. Looking closely it seems that a small part of of one of the teeth is filed. I am positive that I did not have this gap before. I may be shallow but I hate gaps. Even small. The hygienist was very aggressive with the manual scaler. I never had any hygienist in the past scale so hard my front teeth. I am really upset. Did all the hygienist in the past missed something? Thank you very much.

Doctor Answers 6

You likely FINALLY got good care

It seems all too common that someone come to my office after years of seeing inferior care.  The previous office did nothing more than polish tartar, which made MY hygienist need to work extra hard.  It is likely that you finally have tartar removed between your teeth and it feels odd.


When this happens, WE get blamed for being too aggressive when the fault lies elsewhere. If you are not certain, see a periodontist.

Seattle Dentist
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Did the hygienist miss something?

Yes...I think the other hygienists missed a build up of tartar or plaque between your front teeth and for a long time you thought they were clean and had no gap.  This hygienist had her work cut out for her and cleaned out the build up of tartar between your teeth that the orther hygienists did not get. You said she cleaned aggressively and she probably had to to get it that clean!  When was the last time you had your dental hygiene visit?  Plaque can build faster in some people than others even if you have a good oral care regimen at home. There is no way that the hygienist could have filed down the tooth during scaling!  You just have clean teeth. If you are unhappy with the gap you can always have your dentist bond them together.

Space After Teeth Cleaning

I am sorry to hear about your experience with your last cleaning.  You can be certain that the hygienist could not remove enamel with his/her scaler.  The more likely scenario is that the hygienist removed some calculus buildup between the teeth that makes an existing space visible.  The other scenario is that your teeth are beginning to move (shift).  Hope this helps. 

Scott Young, DDS
Houston Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

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Teeth Cleaning Gone Wrong?

The hygienist could not have moved the teeth nor filed them by doing an aggressive scaling/ Perhaps you had so much calculus (tartar) around the teeth, that the gap was being filled in by it. Once the tartar was successfully removed you were then able to notice the gap???

Jay Neuhaus, DDS
New York Dentist

Space between teeth after a cleaning.

Spaces between teeth can't open as a result of scaling or cleaning of teeth.  However, what may have happened is that tarter between teeth often accumulates over time and becomes almost a part of the tooth and it pushes the gum between the teeth up.  Once this tarter is scaled off it often appears like a black triangle opened between the teeth.  This is not a direct result of anything wrong with the cleaning but rather the shrinking of gum tissue due to gum disease.  If this is what happened there is very little that can be done to regenerate the gum, but sometimes we can fill the black triangle up with some restorative material.   The only other possibility is that there was a filling between the teeth previously and the bond of the restoration to the tooth was so weak that the mechanical scaling chipped it away.  Hope this helps.

Dan Hagi, DDS
Toronto Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Teeth cleaning gone wrong?

Sorry to hear about your issue.  Unfortunately, it is impossible for a hygienist to file a tooth down during scaling.  Enamel is too strong for that to happen.  Your teeth may be moving. 

Leonard Tau, DMD
Philadelphia Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.