What is the Difference Between Teeth Whitening and Dental Cleaning?
Medically reviewed by Dr Jerry Jesin

What is the Difference Between Teeth Whitening and Dental Cleaning?

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Dental cleaning and teeth whitening are both procedures designed to help you have a beautiful smile. The way that these procedures help differ a bit. That means having one does not provide the same benefits as the other. In order to understand the different, it pays to compare what each procedure accomplishes. Here is some basic information that will help you see why each treatment has a place in your overall dental care plan.

The Basics of Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning is a relatively simple treatment that’s designed to remove plaque and other buildup from the surface of the teeth. The cleaning occurs along the gum line and in between teeth as well as removing residue from the teeth surfaces.

Removing the plaque and tartar from and in between teeth accomplishes two important goals. First, removing the buildup helps to minimize the risk of a number of tooth and gum conditions. It will also get rid of residue that can leave the mouth feeling less than fresh and the breath a little foul.

It’s recommended that patients have at least one dental cleaning per year. There are circumstances in which the dentist would recommend that the patient consider having the teeth cleaned twice a year.

Understanding the Essentials of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a procedure designed to lighten the shade of the teeth. It’s considered to be more of an elective treatment than a cleaning. The purpose of a series of whitening treatments is to make teeth that have begun to look a little dull or yellowed more like they did in years past. Under the care of a professional at a Mississauga teeth whitening clinic, it’s possible to control the results and make sure the teeth don’t begin to look a little too white.

Choosing to undergo professional whitening treatments also means that the condition of the teeth is monitored at all times. It’s perfectly safe to have the treatments under the care of a dental professional. In fact, it’s a better option than using home whitening kits for this very reason.

Protecting Your Gums From Diseases

It’s true that many people like the way their teeth look after a dental cleaning, but that’s not the primary purpose. Removing plaque and tartar go a long way from preventing gum diseases of different types.

Getting rid of the residue means it’s not present to get under the gum line or to otherwise inflame the gums in any way. Since any type of infection or inflammation of the gums can be quite painful and sometimes costly to resolve, opting for an annual or semi-annual cleaning makes more sense. You could end up avoiding some serious pain and certainly save money in the long run.

How About Whitening to Protect the Teeth?

A teeth whitening treatment is not really about protecting the teeth. The ultimate goal is to improve the appearance of the teeth. It’s not unusual for dentists to recommend that patients undergo thorough cleanings first and then move on to whitening treatments. That’s because cleaner teeth make it much easier to administer the whitening treatments.

One could say that in a roundabout way, whitening does help to protect the teeth. Indirectly, the preparation to have the teeth whitened does provide the opportunity for the teeth to be examined. If some dental issue is identified, it can be corrected before the whitening treatments commence.

There’s also the opportunity that one or more of the professionals at the Mississauga teeth whitening clinic could notice some developing issue during or after a whitening treatment. Once again, this detection of a condition does make it possible to stop the treatments, resolve the problem, and then resume the whitening process at a later date.

Cleanings Require Trips to the Dental Clinic

Another factor that sets a dental cleaning apart from teeth whitening is that the cleaning must take place in a dental office or clinic. The equipment needed to properly manage the cleaning requires proper sterilization and maintenance. In addition, the average person is not in a position to examine their own teeth and make sure the cleaning is complete. That requires the expertise of another person who is trained to know how to use the instruments and monitor the results.

By contrast, it is possible to invest in over the counter products to whiten the teeth at home. The process will take longer and there are not the safeguards in place that would apply if you chose to have treatments at a Mississauga teeth whitening clinic.

Your best bet is to have the whitening done by a professional in an office or clinic setting. You’ll see results faster and you can rest assured someone is monitoring the condition of your teeth every step of the way.

Can Everyone Have Both Treatments?

Another difference between the two dental treatments is that anyone can have their teeth cleaned. In fact, it should be a regular part of ongoing dental care. Doing so goes a long way toward keeping the teeth in top shape. Pair those cleanings with an annual exam and proper dental hygiene at home and your chances of having dental issues are reduced significantly.

Teeth whitening is another matter. Think of it as being more of an elective or cosmetic treatment. You choose to go to a Mississauga teeth whitening clinic because you are unhappy with the shade of the teeth. It’s even possible to have a series of whitening treatments and then decide you don’t want to do them again. It really won’t matter if you choose to live with teeth that are not the brilliant white they were when you were younger.

Would you like to know more about dental cleaning or whitening treatments? Your dentist can discuss how each of them are done, the different approaches for both types of treatments, and even recommend if you could use one or both. Ask plenty of questions and it won’t take long to decide if now is the time to have your teeth cleaned and maybe whitened a little later.

Andrea Galick

Andrea Galick is an accomplished Dental Hygienist (RDH) with a passion for helping patients achieve optimal oral health. Andrea has built a reputation as a caring and skilled practitioner who puts her patients at ease and provides individualized care that meets their unique needs.