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Teeth Whitening vs. Teeth Bleaching: Is There a Difference?

Posted by El Camino Dental Arts on Dec 3 2018, 01:37 AM

You might find yourself wondering about the difference between teeth whitening vs. teeth bleaching if you are currently considering improving the color of your teeth. These two words are often used interchangeably when it comes to whitening treatments, but they do mean different things.

Pearly white teeth have always been a symbol of attractiveness and good hygiene, but it is easy to lose the natural appearance of your teeth. Habits like smoking, eating pasta or drinking coffee can easily leave a person's teeth with yellow or brown stains.

Fortunately, these types of stains can be easily removed with teeth whitening treatments.

Teeth whitening vs. teeth bleaching

While it is easy to assume that there is no difference between teeth whitening vs. teeth bleaching, these two terms have different meanings. A teeth whitening product restores the color of a person's teeth by getting rid of surface stains, but it does not have to contain any bleaching agents. A teeth whitening product improves the appearance of a person's teeth with abrasives and detergent.

On the other hand, a teeth bleaching product contains a bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide. The bleaching agent reacts with the patient's teeth and the chemical reaction whitens the person's teeth to its natural shade. That makes teeth bleaching more effective than teeth whitening. The former can restore a person's teeth to its natural color and remove deep stains, while the latter only removes stains and discoloration from the surface.

The process of teeth bleaching

As mentioned, teeth bleaching products contain food-safe bleaching agents like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. This is the active ingredient that actually whitens the patient's teeth. These chemicals are absorbed into the inner layers of each tooth and reacts to the molecules that cause stains and discoloration. It removes stains and discoloration from both the enamel and the inner dentin.

There are two types of bleaching products commonly used by dentists: in-office and at-home. The bleaching products used at a dental clinic are significantly stronger than those in at-home bleaching kits or the over-the-counter variety. The products used by dentists are sometimes activated with an accelerator light. This makes in-office bleaching the most effective way to whiten a person's teeth. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, patients can expect their teeth to be 10 shades whiter after a single treatment. That makes it a great choice for those who want instant results.

At-home bleaching kits are not as concentrated as their in-office counterparts; however, these can be just as effective over time. It also puts less stress on the patient's enamel. The dentist will typically make a customized mouth tray for the patient to use at home. This ensures that the bleaching agent is evenly applied to the patient's tooth, and prevents it from seeping into the gums or other soft tissue in the mouth, where it can cause damage.


Not happy with the color of your teeth? Talk to one of our dentists and discuss your options.

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