Teeth Whitening and Plaque Removal

Teeth cleaning and teeth whitening are two types of dental procedures that patients often get confused about. However, these procedures and their goals are actually quite different. The primary goal of  Teeth cleaning also called Plaque removal is to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth, in order to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds upon the outside of the teeth and along the gum line. A person can often prevent and treat plaque buildup at home. If a person does not practice good dental hygiene, plaque can turn into a hard yellow-brown substance called tartar. While The main objective of Teeth whitening is to remove stains for cosmetic purposes. It is a group of procedures that can be conducted with the goal of yielding whiter, brighter teeth. Teeth cleaning is important for the ongoing health of your teeth and gums, whereas teeth whitening procedures are purely cosmetic.

Types of Teeth Whitening

There are many different varieties of tooth whitening options available over the counter.

Custom Fit Tray Bleaching

Custom-fit bleaching is one of the most reliable methods that is seen. Trays with whitening products are fitted to the teeth for a period of time. The trays ensure that the gel or whitening substance does not come out from the tray, thus ensuring maximum exposure to the teeth to the whitening substance. These trays are convenient and help to whiten your teeth within a small amount of time. There are products available in the market that are not custom fit. The problem with this is that they can come out loose and also rub against your gums and cause irritation there.

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips are thin strips of whitening materials, they are easily available in the stores. They are easy to apply. One strip each is placed on the top row of teeth and another is placed on the bottom row of teeth. The results can be seen as soon as in three days’ time. This is most suitable if you have slight to moderate staining and also if you are pressed for time. You can do it at the convenience of your home and when you are free.

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is designed to work as a whitening agent. Normal toothpaste helps keep your mouth clean and also tries to remove some of the stains in the teeth, while whitening toothpaste helps make the teeth shine brighter by removing most of the stains on the teeth. Though it may not give you immediate results, you may notice how in a period of just a few weeks, your teeth grow whiter.

Laser Bleaching

Development in technology has led to a new branch of treatment in teeth whitening Laser helps activate the whitening agent that is used in the treatment. The process also happens in a limited period of time, so one need not wait long as in the case of other treatment options. During the procedure, guards are placed over lips and gums to protect them. Not all are suitable candidates for laser treatment. Your dentist will suggest the best type of treatment that is suitable for your specific case. 

Choosing Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening products are available very easily, be they in the form of toothpaste or gels or laser treatments done with the help of trained dentists. Different type of treatments has their own advantages. Some of them are suited for those who have less time on their hands, less staining, etc. Always be sure to check with the dentist about the type of treatment you would need. Even though buying products over the counter might save money and you can do it at the convenience of your home – they might not always be best suited for your needs. Only a dentist will be able to advise you on the type of treatment that would bring out desired results. It is best that you seek help and advice from a dentist before you go ahead and try teeth whitening products.

Types of Teeth Cleaning/ Plague removal


Prophylaxis is a fancy name for routine teeth cleaning procedures. This is the standard type of cleaning procedure that most patients undergo every 6 months. Prophylaxis starts with your hygienist using a series of scrapers and picks to remove tartar and plaque from your teeth. Plaque is the sticky substance that you regularly brush off with your toothbrush. It is a combination of sugars, bacteria, and the acid that bacteria secrete. If left on your teeth for too long, it hardens into a substance called tartar, which cannot be removed with brushing alone — only with a hygienist’s specialized tools. Tartar often forms along the gum line and along the sides of teeth where they meet. When your hygienist is finished gently scraping tartar from teeth, he or she will generally use a polishing tool to remove surface stains and any lingering plaque from the teeth surface. This polishing tool is generally made from a firm rubberized material and spins in a circle to polish teeth.

Root Scaling and Planing

Root scaling and planning are sometimes called deep cleaning or advanced cleaning. This type of cleaning procedure is often recommended for patients who are showing signs of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gums that results in swelling, soreness, and the development of pockets between the gums and teeth. It is caused by plaque and tartar that have not been removed with good dental hygiene and regular prophylaxis. Root scaling is performed with similar tools to prophylaxis, but your local dentist or hygienist will use the scalers to clean below the gumline. A local anesthetic is generally used to numb the area that’s being cleaned. With advanced gum disease cases, you may need to come back for several scaling appointments. Your dental hygienist will focus on one segment of your mouth at each appointment. Gums are likely to be sore and sensitive once the anesthesia wears off following your root scaling procedure. However, with proper brushing, flossing, and mouthwash use, this soreness (and your gum disease) should begin to subside. Some signs that you may need a dental scaling procedure, rather than just standard prophylaxis, include:

  1. Your gums are red, swollen, and sore.
  2. Your gums bleed whenever you brush or floss.
  3. Your teeth have begun to feel loose in your jaw.
  4. You can see pockets forming between your teeth and gums.
  5. You have chronic bad breath that does not go away after brushing, flossing, or using mouthwash.

Goals and Benefits of Teeth Cleaning

After you have your teeth cleaned, you are likely to notice that they are a bit whiter. This is because the tartar that your dentist removes has a yellow tint to it. However, whiter teeth are not the primary goal of dental teeth cleanings (but rather a positive side effect). The primary goals of prophylaxis and deep cleanings when needed are:

  • Prevention of tooth decay that results from excessive plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Prevention and relief from gum disease.
  • Relief from bad breath.
  • Detection of more serious dental issues.

Goals and Benefits of Teeth Whitening

The primary benefit of teeth whitening is, of course, a whiter and brighter smile. This can boost your self-confidence and also help inspire you to take better care of your teeth going forward! If you are proud of your white, bright smile, you may be more inspired to brush, floss, and clean your teeth every  6 months. By keeping your teeth clean and avoiding foods that stain (think coffee and wine), your whitening results should last for years.
Some reasons you may want to undergo teeth whitening include:

  • You are embarrassed to smile because of yellow or stain teeth.
  • You have been using whitening toothpastes and rinses but have not noticed an improvement.
  • You have a special occasion (like a wedding or graduation) coming up, and you want to look your very best.

In conclusion teeth cleaning or plaque removal is essential for dental health, and teeth whitening is an elective cosmetic process that can improve the appearance of your smile.