Most people know about professional cleaning and what it involves – cleaning the teeth and removing plaque. However, many people may not realize that there is actually a subtle difference between teeth whitening and bleaching because the bleaching process is similar to, but not exactly the same, as the whitening process.

Learn more about the similarities and differences between these three popular procedures.

What is Professional Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is the process of whitening several shades of your natural teeth. It’s designed to remove yellow stains that are caused by plaque along with certain foods like coffee or tobacco. Whitening removes the brown spots or yellow stains that are stuck on teeth for years.

The whitening process is classified as either surface whitening or bleaching. The most basic whitening occurs at the surface level of teeth above the enamel, and this is achieved by brushing the teeth using toothpaste. The second type involves the use of a specialized, adapted bleach compound used specifically for teeth whitening. This compound penetrates deeper, allowing for a whiter look to teeth. This is what you’ll find at many professional dental offices.

The myth about professional whitening is that it’s fast and completed in 30 minutes or less. To get the optimal results though, it’s actually a multi-step process that starts with the careful examination of the teeth. Dentists review the patient’s dental history and take X-rays to look for damaged areas. They observe the teeth and gums up close to make sure that everything is healthy before treatment.

At Midtown Dental, Dr. Mishaan actually uses a specialized teeth whitening service, called Zoom! whitening. This procedure uses a combination of light and a whitening gel to quickly and safely whiten your teeth in just one visit.

teeth whitening bleaching smile

What is Teeth Bleaching?

Teeth bleaching is the same as whitening, except it includes the use of dental-grade (which is safe for your mouth!) bleach. To many dentists, bleaching is the strongest, most effective method of creating the whitest look on teeth. The teeth are bleached when they are whitened beyond their natural color.

Hydrogen peroxide is the most common ingredient used in bleaching gels and strips. Since bleaching can be slightly more harsh on your teeth than traditional whitening methods, it’s important to work with an experienced professional to determine whether bleaching is right for you.

Our office in New York uses a procedure called Brite Smile, which is a safe and effective teeth whitening and bleaching solution. Dr. Mishaan prefers this method because it does not usually cause post-op sensitivity on the newly bleached teeth like some other procedures do, and is a perfectly safe way to achieve optimal results.

Routine Teeth Cleaning

In general, professional teeth cleaning is a preventative dental service that involves removing dirt and debris from the teeth without any focus on the aesthetics. Dentists can professionally clean teeth that will still remain yellow afterwards. At our office, we tell our patients that annual cleanings are necessary to maintain good dental health; however, we recommend whitening strictly as a cosmetic dental service.

During cleanings, dentists like Dr. Mishaan focus on removing plaque using the scaling and root planing technique. They also clean the gums and look for any early-to-advanced signs of gum disease. They take X-rays of the teeth and look for cavities, which may lead to the recommendations of dental fillings.

Whitening or bleaching the teeth is done solely to improve the appearance of teeth. In contrast, cleaning is done to improve the functions of teeth and gums. Dentists also look for signs of diseases and other imperfections in the mouth, and may suggest referrals to oral surgeons if there are significant problems.

Dentistry has gotten more complicated over time, and so many dental procedures are now available. If you plan to visit the dentist at all, it’s still important to know what separates one procedure from another. In this case, knowing the difference between teeth whitening and bleaching can be helpful because these two terms are mistakenly used interchangeably.

At Midtown Dental, Dr. Mishaan provides professional cleaning and whitening services to those in NYC. With his expertise in Cosmetic Dentistry, we’re confident that you’ll walk away with a better looking smile for years to come. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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