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Are Dental Cleanings & Teeth Whitening the Same Thing?

Dental Cleanings vs Teeth Whitening

Dental cleanings don’t whiten your teeth, but a clean set of teeth is often much whiter. Similarly, teeth whitening doesn’t clean teeth but enhances the natural beauty of your teeth. 

Dentistry is often broken down into restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Under the umbrella of restorative dentistry is preventative dentistry. Just as the name implies, preventive dentistry is the practice of providing dental care to maintain the health and beauty of your smile. Dental cleanings are part of preventative dentistry and are an annual or semi-annual practice that is part of your oral health routine. 

Alternatively, teeth whitening is only one of the many cosmetic dental procedures that transform and enhance the appearance of your smile.

Prophylaxis (Dental Cleaning)

A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure that thoroughly cleans your teeth. Regular cleanings can decrease the chances of gum disease, gingivitis, and complication due to hardened plaque called tartar.

Teeth cleaning can halt the progression of gum disease and remove the tartar buildup that brushing and flossing alone can’t remove. 

Benefits of Dental Cleanings

  • Tartar Removal – Tartar, or calculus below and above the gum line can cause serious gum problems when left untreated. When left untreated, bacteria can weaken the gums and bones and cause shifting, pain, inflammation, and even tooth loss.

  • Aesthetics – yellow and stained teeth are often a source of unhappiness. Although teeth cleanings won’t whiten your smile directly, cleaning and polishing your teeth can often lighten or get rid of teeth stains almost instantly. 

  • Fresher Breath – Chronic bad breath can be a sign or a more serious periodontal issue. Usually, bad breath is also accompanied by rotting food particles below the gum line, hidden infection, and other oral health issues. Removing plaque, calculus, and bacteria during a dental cleaning will noticeably improve your breath by removing those foreign materials and introducing cleaning agents. The same cleaning will also remove any irritation that those foreign materials may have been causing.

  • In-Depth Identification of Oral Health Issues – As your dentist or dental hygienist cleans your teeth inch by inch, it is also a perfect opportunity to check on the health of each tooth individually. As the cleaning continues, your doctor will look for signs of oral cancer, periodontitis, or symptoms that may be tied to a health concern like diabetes or kidney issues. If there is something to see, a dental cleaning will reveal it. 

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a procedure to improve and enhance the appearance of already healthy teeth. If you are a good candidate for teeth whitening, share your interest with your doctor to make sure you are caught up with any necessary treatments in order to make your whitening procedure perfect.

In-Office Whitening with Zoom Professional

Our Chestnut Dental locations are glad to offer Zoom Professional In-Office Whitening By Phillips as a professional teeth whitening option. This blue LED light whitening technology can whiten teeth up to 8 shades in a single 1-2 hour visit.  Results are immediate, and the technology can be adjusted to accommodate individualized patient sensitivity levels and desired results.

The treatment is very straightforward and doesn’t hurt a bit. Your smile will be brighter as soon as you leave your seat.

Teeth Whitening Process

Here’s what you can expect during a teeth whitening visit.

Step 1: Consultation and Tooth Shade Review

The first step is to gauge your current tooth color and decide how much whiter you would like to have them. Your doctor will show you a tooth-shaped color example to match your current tooth shade and you can choose from the colors on the chart. The length of the treatment and the intensity of the light used is determined by the difference between the start and ending color. Zoom Professional can whiten a tooth up to 8 shades lighter after a single visit! 

Step 2: Whitening

Before anything is in place, your doctor or a technician will go over the entire procedure with you and answer any last-minute questions you may have. The treatment times vary, but most patients complete the treatment in as little as 45 minutes. Safety is our main concern at Chestnut Dental, so you will receive a pair of protective glasses that will keep the powerful whitening light from harming your eyes during the treatment. Your dentist will then isolate your teeth by placing a dental dam that will allow you to rest your open jaw in place. A light-reactive whitening solution is strategically layered on your teeth and the light is positioned right over your teeth for full effect.

Step 3: Cleaning & Post-Treatment Relief

The timer is up and the light and dental dam are removed. Although it is uncommon to experience any significant discomfort, Chestnut Dental provides you with a sensitivity treatment gel in a custom tooth tray to wear after your treatment. This does not take long and isn’t always necessary, but it provides some comfort after your teeth have been under such intense light. After a few minutes, you can remove that tray, rinse, and place it in your take-home kit. This take-home kit will include more sensitivity gel as well as some Zoom! whitening solution for smile maintenance.

A Chestnut Dental team member will go over any maintenance instructions with you before you leave and our customer service-oriented staff are always happy to help you over the phone or in the office. Smile and enjoy your new, beautiful smile. 

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