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Say Cheese: Similarities and Differences Between Teeth Whitening and Teeth Cleaning

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When you hear about teeth whitening and teeth cleaning, the differences may sound obvious. However, many people tend to confuse what these two procedures actually involve. It's not uncommon for patients to think that teeth whitening involves the removal of plaque and tartar from their teeth, or that teeth cleaning involves removal of stains from the enamel. You should know these two procedures have significant differences, even if they're both aimed at improving the overall appearance of your teeth.

What to expect during teeth cleaning

Teeth cleaning differs from whitening due to its ultimate purpose. During a tooth cleaning procedure, the dentist's primary goal is to remove plaque and tartar (which may cause tooth decay and infections). Your dentist will use professional equipment to remove tough to reach debris within your teeth. This plaque and tartar normally affect oral hygiene if it accumulates over time. If your teeth are not clean, you may also be at higher risk of periodontal disease and other gum infections.

Tooth cleaning is typically done by physically scraping off stubborn debris from the teeth using a scraper. Dentists will typically target the tooth surface and your gums when removing plaque. The extent of cleaning will depend on the amount of plaque that has accumulated.

What to expect during whitening

Teeth whitening is mainly aimed at removing extrinsic and intrinsic stains from your teeth. If you notice your teeth are gradually becoming yellow (or obtaining stains that are difficult to remove), you may need to have them whitened. Furthermore, teeth whitening restores the glow and shine of your teeth. Many people carry out whitening for cosmetic reasons, primarily to improve their overall smile.

Whitening occurs in many different ways. A dentist may apply a bleaching agent to your teeth (in-office whitening) so as to remove stubborn stains. You may also choose to use tooth-whitening products sold at various stores. These products consist of gels, strips and liquids that you can apply to your teeth to gradually remove stains.

Why you should receive both services

Ultimately, tooth cleaning is a health procedure aimed at preventing decay, gum infections and bad breath. Whitening your teeth is also a healthy choice, but it's primarily a cosmetic procedure aimed at removing stains from your teeth.

Both cleaning and whitening result in a healthier, brighter smile. Because these procedures complement each other, you stand to benefit greatly from having both of them carried out.