Teeth Whitening vs. Teeth Cleaning: What’s the Difference

Even if you brush twice daily, drink water, and avoid coffee and red wine, your teeth can still stain and discolor over time. This is why most people look forward to dental check-ups as they enable them to get a professional cleaning or whitening treatment once in a while.

Both are related as they all seem to have something to do with cosmetic dentistry.

While one helps remove surface stains without affecting your teeth’s structural integrity or causing tooth sensitivity, the other does just that—it cleans out residual plaque and tartar from your teeth. Hence, they appear whiter when not exposed to light or daylight.

But do you know why it happens? Or how does the process work? And more importantly, is one better than the other for your oral hygiene?

You’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering what the difference between these dental procedures is. Let’s take a closer look at each of them to see what makes them unique and how they can work together to keep your smile healthy.

Why Do Our Teeth Become Discolored?

When your teeth are exposed to oxygen and water, they form a thin film of yellow or brown-colored plaque composed of leftover food, bacteria, and other particles that cause brown-stained teeth. This can oxidize over time, turning your teeth yellow or brown regardless of how frequently you brush and floss.

While you can do something about these processes, tooth discoloration can also happen naturally as you age.

When teeth are exposed to light, the surface pigment on their surface breaks down, causing them to darken in color. This is known as tooth staining, a natural process that occurs as teeth age.

Teeth Whitening vs. Teeth Cleaning

teeth whitening and teeth cleaning differences

How Does Teeth Cleaning Work?

Tooth whitening or tooth bleaching is a cosmetic dental process that uses a bleaching agent on your natural tooth enamel to break down the natural pigmentation in teeth, making them lighter in color. Unlike teeth whitening, which only strengthens your teeth and removes surface stains, teeth cleaning is more of a maintenance procedure, ideally done every six months.

It combines scaling, polishing, and root planing (or gumming). Scaling removes plaque, tartar, bacteria, and stains from the teeth using specialized dental instruments. Polishing is done to further remove the discoloration on the surface of teeth, and root planing is the process of cleaning the tooth’s root to remove tartar buildup and gingival pockets.

It may seem like an intricate process, but your teeth get to remain strong, healthy, and free from cavities. Take note that while you are bleaching your teeth, it is normal to experience tooth sensitivity; however, this sensitivity will eventually go away.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

This can be done in a dental office with the assistance of a dentist or a dental hygienist or even at home with over-the-counter teeth whitening products such as whitening toothpaste.

Whichever method you choose, they both work by using a whitening agent, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, to remove surface stains and bacteria from your teeth, which allows them to become lighter in color, giving you newly bleached teeth.

To perform this non-invasive dental treatment procedure, a dentist will first select the right whitening agent based on your teeth sensitivity. They may also apply a rubber band to your upper teeth to prevent the whitening agent from seeping into the gum line.

Once ready, the dentist will apply the whitening agent to your teeth and allow them to sit for a specific amount before rinsing them out. The amount of time the agent remains on your teeth will vary based on the dentist’s recommendation.

A professional whitening procedure can also be done with laser teeth whitening.

The Advantages of Teeth Whitening

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  • Makes your smile better: Whitening your teeth will make your smile look brighter and younger, and you will feel more confident when speaking to people or meeting new friends.
  • Enhances confidence: With a brighter smile, you will have more self-confidence and feel more empowered with your new professional teeth.
  • Improves oral health: This prevents decay and cavities from occurring over time, saving money on dental treatments and preventing you from experiencing pain.
  • Stronger teeth: Its procedures use a whitening agent to strengthen teeth by removing surface stains. This prevents teeth from weakening or becoming brittle due to excessive staining.
  • No lasting effects: Professional whitening procedure has no long-term impact on your teeth and gums. Even after you stop using the treatment, your teeth will remain strong and healthy.
  • No pain: This procedure does not cause pain to the person undergoing them. This is because it does not involve any scraping or other harsh treatments.

Need Help With Your Oral Health? Contact Our Hanford Family Dentist Today For Your Dental Needs!

healthy teeth with a nice smile

Both procedures are essential for maintaining oral health, preventing tooth decay, and keeping your teeth strong and healthy for a lifetime. However, treatment depends on the overall state of your teeth and gums and varies from person to person.

Teeth whitening is used to lighten the color of your teeth. Meanwhile, teeth cleaning aims to remove as much bacteria as possible from the teeth to remain healthy and cavity-free.

Teeth cleaning is recommended every six months to ensure teeth stay healthy and strong. Teeth whitening is done on an as-needed basis when teeth become discolored due to age, smoking, medications, and genetics.

However, some dentists recommend that people undergoing teeth whitening should also get their teeth cleaned once in a while to ensure that their teeth remain strong and healthy.

If you want to know more about whether you need teeth cleaning or whitening services, reach out to Dr. Jack Nagrani by calling at (559) 422-6027!

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