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The Difference Between Teeth Whitening and Cleaning

06 June 24.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between getting your teeth professionally cleaned versus whitened? While both procedures aim to give you a brighter, more attractive smile, they actually serve very different purposes.

Teeth cleaning is a routine dental procedure focused on improving oral health. In contrast, teeth whitening is a cosmetic treatment that lightens and removes stains for a whiter smile.

Understanding the key differences between professional teeth cleaning and whitening can help you decide which option best meets your needs. 

This guide will compare and contrast these two common dental treatments to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Teeth Cleaning

Regular professional teeth cleaning is considered a fundamental part of oral hygiene and preventive dental care. Cleanings aim to remove the plaque and tartar that builds up on tooth surfaces over time. This debris can’t be eliminated by simple brushing and flossing at home.

What is Teeth Cleaning?

Professional dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar from teeth to help prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth, while tartar refers to hardened plaque deposits.

The American Dental Association recommends routine teeth cleaning by a dental hygienist every six months. Some individuals with a history of gum disease may need more frequent cleanings.

During a typical cleaning appointment, the hygienist will:

The entire process usually takes 30-60 minutes.

Types of Professional Cleanings

There are a few different types of professional teeth cleanings:


A prophylaxis, or “prophy”, is the standard cleaning procedure patients undergo every six months. It involves plaque and tartar removal from tooth crowns down to the gum line.

Root Scaling and Planing

This deeper version of a cleaning, also known as “deep cleaning,” is done when there are signs of periodontal disease. The dental hygienist will scale away built-up tartar, bacteria, and debris from beneath the gum line and smooth out rough spots on root surfaces. Local anesthesia is often used for comfort.

Benefits of Regular Teeth Cleaning

Consistently getting your teeth professionally cleaned every six months provides many oral health benefits:

In essence, routine professional cleanings help maintain optimal oral health and prevent more extensive dental work down the road.

The Purpose of Teeth Whitening

Now that we’ve covered the health-focused purpose of professional teeth cleaning, let’s discuss cosmetic teeth whitening. Teeth whitening procedures aim to remove stains and discoloration for a brighter, whiter smile.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is an elective cosmetic treatment that lightens teeth coloration and removes surface stains. Over time, teeth can become discolored from factors such as food and drink, smoking, medications, trauma, aging, and more. Teeth whitening improves the appearance but does not enhance oral health.

Both professional in-office whitening and at-home teeth whitening kits are available. Professional options provide the most dramatic results, while over-the-counter kits produce more gradual lightening over weeks of use.

Difference Between Teeth Whitening and Cleaning

Causes of Stained Teeth

Common causes of stained or discolored teeth that can be improved with whitening include:

Signs You May Benefit From Whitening

Consider professional teeth whitening if:

The Process of Whitening Teeth

Dentist-supervised teeth whitening is done using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active bleaching agent. A higher concentration of whitener is used for in-office treatments.

During a typical visit, the dentist will:

Multiple treatments may be recommended for more dramatic color change. At-home kits involve wearing trays pre-filled with whitening gel for 30 mins to a few hours daily over 1-2 weeks.

Benefits of Teeth Whitening

A brighter, whiter smile can offer the following advantages:

Key Differences Between Teeth Cleaning and Whitening

Now that we’ve provided an overview of the purpose and process of teeth cleaning versus whitening, let’s compare some of the key differences between these two dental treatments:

Primary Objectives

Health Benefits

Ideal Frequency

Who Performs the Treatment

Level of Discomfort

As you can see, teeth cleanings play more of a health-maintenance role while whitening focuses on aesthetic benefits. Let’s now dive deeper into factors to consider when choosing between the two.

Key Factors in Deciding Between Teeth Cleaning and Whitening

Various factors come into play when deciding whether to get your teeth professionally cleaned or whitened. Compare costs, time commitment, results longevity, and more.

Cost Comparison

On average, professional teeth cleanings tend to cost less than whitening treatments.

While whitening carries a higher upfront cost, it eliminates stains for prolonged periods whereas cleanings provide short-term freshness.

Time Commitment

Whitening requires a more intensive time commitment upfront, while cleanings need to be repeated biannually.

Longevity of Results

Whitening can have dramatic and lengthy impact on tooth shade when compared to cleanings.

Required Maintenance

Consistent dental visits are key if you opt for recurring professional cleanings rather than whitening.

Ease of Access

At-home whitening products offer the most convenience and flexibility.

Teeth Whitening Products

Sensitivity and Irritation Side Effects

Whitening is more likely to cause discomfort than routine cleaning.

Potential for Tooth Damage

Overuse of whitening products poses a bigger safety risk than professional cleanings.

As shown above, comparing all factors can assist you in deciding between preventive cleanings, dramatic whitening, or moderate over-the-counter products for your needs and expectations.

Keeping Teeth White Naturally

In addition to professional teeth whitening treatments, there are natural remedies you can use to maintain or slightly improve tooth color between dental visits:

Oral Hygiene Habits

Lifestyle Modifications

Dietary Considerations

Other Natural Whitening Approaches

Setting Realistic Expectations

Natural teeth whitening remedies take more time and diligence compared to professional in-office treatments. You may notice a slight lightening effect over several weeks. However, dramatic multi-shade changes seen with intensive bleaching are unrealistic through natural means alone. Maintain realistic expectations when taking the all-natural route.

Trust Onuge for All Your Teeth Whitening Needs

As a leading teeth whitening manufacturer with over 20 years of expertise, Onuge Personal Care offers a complete range of whitening products and solutions. From innovative whitening strips to custom formulas, Onuge has the capabilities and technology to deliver effective teeth brightening tailored to your needs.

With cutting-edge production facilities churning out over 2 million whitening products daily, Onuge has the capacity to handle orders of any size. Their residue-free whitening strip formula and 50+ patented technologies ensure you get the highest quality whitening experience. With rigorous quality control and global certifications, you can trust Onuge whitening products are safe and effective.

Whether you need a private label batch for your brand or bulk supplies for retail, Onuge is your one-stop shop for end-to-end teeth whitening solutions. Contact us today to transform your smile!

Contact Onuge Now!


Professional teeth cleaning and whitening serve very different purposes. Cleanings remove plaque and tartar for improved oral health while whitening lightens intrinsic stains for aesthetic benefits.


Keep the following takeaways in mind when deciding on which option best suits your dental needs:

Evaluate your specific priorities whether related to oral health, aesthetics, budget, or other factors. Consult your dentist to determine appropriate solutions for your dental situation. With the right combination of professional treatments and ongoing home care, you can maintain a radiant, healthy smile for life.

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