Dental Blog

Avoid Expensive Teeth Whitening, How Cleaning Helps

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Woman smiling with healthy clean teeth

If you’re not quite happy with the color of your teeth, you are not alone. Like most people with yellowing or staining, you may be considering teeth whitening procedures. However, though teeth whitening procedures can be effective for many patients, they are not always necessary. Sometimes, all you might need is a professional teeth cleaning, which is generally more affordable and a great choice for your overall dental health!

What is the Difference Between Teeth Cleaning and Teeth Whitening?

Teeth cleaning procedures are performed by our Monarch hygienists to deep clean and remove tartar and plaque from the surface of your teeth. This reduces your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and an array of other ailments over time. At Monarch Dental, we make it easy to book an appointment online every 6 months to ensure basic oral health is being properly maintained.

The difference with teeth whitening procedures is that the primary goal is removing stains from the tooth’s enamel. These treatments don’t improve the health of your teeth or help prevent dental problems. Rather, when your local dentist performs a teeth whitening procedure, it is purely for cosmetic reasons.

Common Teeth Cleaning Procedures

Routine teeth cleaning, also known as prophylaxis, is the standard dentist treatment administered during a biannual cleaning appointment with your local dentist office. This procedure is generally performed by a dental hygienist, who will begin by using a series of picks and scraping tools to remove the buildup on your teeth. The most stubborn form of this buildup is called tartar. It’s a hardened form of plaque that cannot be removed by brushing alone. Since tartar has a yellow color, having it removed from your teeth may result in a whiter, brighter smile without the need for an additional whitening treatment. Once your hygienist finishes removing the tartar, they will polish your teeth with a special motorized polishing tool. This smooths the surface of your teeth, which helps to keep future stains from sticking.

If it has been a while since your last cleaning, your local Monarch dentist may recommend a more intensive cleaning procedure called “dental scaling” or deep cleaning. This procedure is similar to prophylaxis, but involves removing tartar below the gum line. Since the procedure can be uncomfortable, you’ll generally be given a local anesthetic to keep you at ease throughout your visit. Dental scaling is extremely important if you are beginning to experience symptoms of gum disease, like redness, soreness, and the formation of pockets along the gum line. A thorough teeth cleaning can prompt the gums to heal and stop recession, hiding the yellowed portions of your teeth along the gums.

The Importance of Teeth Cleaning Prior To Whitening

There are two primary reasons to undergo teeth cleaning before you consider making an appointment for teeth whitening:

  1. If the results of the cleaning alone leave you happier with your smile, a teeth whitening treatment may not be necessary, resulting in a more affordable dentist visit.
  2. If you do opt to undergo a whitening procedure after having your teeth cleaned (recommended), your teeth will be free from plaque and tartar, making the whitening treatment more effective and results more noticeable.

Keep in mind that since teeth whitening procedures are generally considered cosmetic dental procedures, sometimes dental insurance policies do not pay for them. On the other hand, teeth cleaning is considered “preventative” dental care, and dental insurance typically covers these procedures. Monarch Dental accepts most dental insurance plans, as well as offering financing and payment plans with no interest.

When Are Whitening Procedures Actually Necessary?

If you’ve had your teeth cleaned and are still unhappy with their color, you may want to consider whitening treatments. There are several reasons why teeth may accumulate stains that cannot be removed by dental cleaning alone –

  • You smoke or have smoked in the past. Tobacco smoke heavily stains the enamel.
  • You drink a lot of coffee, red wine, grape juice, or other dark-colored liquids that stain the teeth.
  • You neglected your dental health for several years, resulting in the stains from tartar becoming more permanent.
  • Your teeth have naturally yellowed due to the natural aging process.

Most teeth cleaning procedures rely on bleaching the enamel. Rather than just removing stains and material from the surface of your teeth, as teeth cleaning procedures do, whitening treatments penetrate the enamel to remove discoloration within it.

If you are self-conscious about your teeth and a standard cleaning procedure has not helped, there is no shame in searching the best “dentist near me” for a teeth whitening procedure! We’ve made it easy to book an appointment online or by calling us at 1-844-800-7645.

What Are Your Options For Teeth Whitening?

After you have decided to whiten your teeth, your next big decision is which type of whitening protocol to pursue. You have three basic options: whitening strips from a local drugstore, whitening trays provided by your local dentist, and professional bleaching procedures performed in your dentist’s chair.

  1. Whitening Strips
    • Available at most any pharmacy and even at some grocery stores, these strips contain a low concentration of a bleaching agent — usually hydrogen peroxide. You apply them to your teeth for a specified period several days in a row, and by the end of the treatment period, you have a whiter, brighter smile. Whitening strips are safe for most patients as long as you follow the instructions on the box. However, they are not great at removing deeper, darker stains, and they do require some patience since you need to use them again and again.
  2. Whitening Trays
    • Another whitening option is through a local dentist who can provide customized whitening trays. These trays are made to fit carefully around your teeth. They are filled with a bleaching solution, provided by your dentist, and then worn for a specified period of time — usually 30 to 60 minutes. As with whitening strips, you’ll typically need to wear the trays for a few days in a row in order to see noticeable results.

      Whitening trays provided by your dentist tend to yield more dramatic results than whitening strips, because they use a higher concentration of bleaching agents. However, they can cause tooth sensitivity, especially in patients with weak or thin tooth enamel. Therefore, your dentist may not recommend this kind of whitening treatment if you have a history of sensitivity. By scheduling a teeth cleaning beforehand, your Monarch dentist can assess the state of enamel and provide a custom treatment plan.

  3. In-Office Whitening
    • In-office whitening is often the best teeth whitening choice for patients with serious stains and discoloration. Many such procedures can whiten the teeth up to eight shades in one session, yielding dramatic results that patients expect.

      There are many different brand name in-office whitening treatments available, and your Monarch dentist can recommend one that’s best based on your unique needs. With professional teeth whitening, there are often added benefits in the whitening process, with some solutions containing fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel or compounds to reduce sensitivity.

      Though the formulas vary, most in-office whitening treatments follow the same basic protocol. The bleaching solution is brushed onto the teeth, and then a special laser light is held over the teeth’s surface in order to activate the bleaching solution. Anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes later, the solution is rinsed out of your mouth. Sometimes, the desired results are seen in one session, and depending on your individual case, an additional appointment may be necessary.

      In-office whitening treatments are a good choice for patients with sensitive gums. Your expert Monarch dentist will avoid your gums when applying the solution; the same level of precision is rare when applying whitening strips or whitening trays at home.

Choosing Between Cleaning And Whitening

If you are not happy with the color of your teeth, start by scheduling a regular teeth cleaning with your dentist. Your dentist may recommend a deeper cleaning procedure as well in order to ensure your gums are protected. Use our handy Zip Code Search to find the “dentist near me” that suits your schedule best!

After the cleaning, you may be pleased with your results enough to decide that teeth whitening isn’t a necessary follow-up. If you still decide to pursue teeth whitening, the effectiveness of the whitening treatment will be much improved by the prior cleaning procedure, yielding best results.

If you’re ready to schedule a teeth cleaning or teeth whitening appointment, we’ll find the location and procedure that fits your needs best! Our friendly staff is waiting for your call at 1-844-800-7645