Teeth Whitening Versus Teeth Bleaching - Is There A Difference?

14 June 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


One of the first things that most people notice when meeting a person for the first time is their smile. This means there has never been a better time to have a bright, white, dazzling smile than now. Not only are there numerous over-the-counter products on the market that will help you to achieve this end result, but your dentist has several professional tools that will give you longer lasting results. But what products do you need to invest in? Some products state they are whitening agents, while others state they are bleaching agents. Is there a difference? If you are in the market to get a dazzling white smile, you may want to know.

What Is Considered A Whitening Product?

The American Dental Association defines a whitening product as any product or process that will make your teeth appear to be whiter. This term can be used by both bleaching and non-bleaching products and can be applied to both the products that are available over-the-counter, as well as those that are found in your dentist's office. These can be found in a wide variety of products. They include:

  • Gels
  • Toothpastes or dentifrices
  • Whitening strips
  • Paint-on films
  • Gums
  • Rinses and more

Most of the whitening products on the market can be broken down into four major categories. They are:

  • Professionally applied by dental staff
  • Professionally applied by non-dental staff in retail settings
  • Professionally prescribed by a dentist/dispensed for in home use
  • Consumer-purchased/consumer-applied 

A true whitening product is generally used to restore your natural tooth shade. It may range from simply cleaning and polishing your teeth in your dentist's office to remove surface stains, to using one of the products listed above.

What Is Considered A Bleaching Product?

If you want your teeth to be whiter than they have ever been before, or restored beyond their natural shade, you are probably going to want to use some type of bleaching product. Although the terms bleaching and whitening are often used interchangeably, a true bleaching product usually contains one of the following as an active ingredient:

You will find that most bleaching materials in the United States now use the first two ingredients on the list, although you may be able to find a few that utilize one of the last two. 

Why Pay A Dentist When I Can Do It Myself?

No matter which product you choose to use, you should never start the process of whitening your teeth without consulting your dentist first. They will be able to examine your teeth and look for any abnormalities and or restorations that may cause you not to be a candidate for tooth whitening. 

By far, the biggest benefit of having your teeth whitened by your dentist is the fact that you will be able to see results much quicker and the process is much safer than if you were to use an over-the-counter method. Your dentist has access to whitening gels that have higher levels of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide than you will be able to purchase over the counter.

Your dentist will also be able to apply their product in a way that you may be able to avoid some of the side effects that are found with other types of products. These side effects include:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Irritation of your oral membranes
  • Chemical burns
  • Uneven results
  • Damage to the enamel
  • Over-bleaching and more

When you ask your dentist to apply your teeth whitening products, they are going to put the health of your mouth first and foremost in the process. Not only will they give you the amazing results you are looking for in a shorter period of time, but they will ensure that they cause no harm in doing so. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates