Teeth Whitening vs Bleaching: Which one will make your smile whiten?

By Date posted: Last updated: November 28, 2022
Teeth Whitening, Teeth Bleaching

Teeth whitening and bleaching are the modalities to make the tooth appear whiter. A whiter tooth is pleasing to everyone. Whiter teeth make the smile brighter and boost the self-confidence of an individual. There are several products available in the market to make your smile whiten. But if you are confused about which to choose, continue reading this article.

What makes your tooth look yellow?

  • There is an association between skin color and tooth color. People with darker skin tones have whiter teeth, whereas individuals with lighter skin tones have dark teeth (less white).
  • Tea and coffee also aid in making the tooth appear yellow.
  • Wines and beverages, like sodas, can also make your teeth look less white.
  • Poor oral hygiene can lead to the deposition of plaque and result in stained teeth.
  • Loss of dental enamel can also result in yellow teeth.
  • Smoking also affects tooth color.

Difference between Teeth Whitening and Bleaching!

Teeth Whitening and bleaching are almost similar terms used for whitening the tooth. There is not much difference between both. The term bleaching is used for products that can make teeth whiter than they naturally are. This holds true for products that contain active components of peroxides like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.

On the contrary, whitening refers to the procedure of eliminating stains and debris from the surface of the teeth to revert them to their original color. Cleaning products like toothpaste and mouthwash are included in whitening products. Therefore, these products can clean your teeth but cannot improve their color or make them white.

But, nowadays, many bleaching products that contain active chemicals (peroxides) are advertised as whitening instead of bleaching because it looks more appealing.

This also arise one more question in our head is that are white teeth healthy?

Now let’s discuss about types of tooth whitening/bleaching.

What are the different types of tooth whitening and bleaching?

Dental whitening can be performed using either professional or at-home bleaching methods. That means you can have your teeth whitened by your dentist in a dental office or by yourself at home. Both options show good results. But both use different concentrations of bleaching agent (peroxide) and times to show results. You should also expect temporary sensitivity after bleaching procedures, whether at-home or in-office. Therefore, it is always a good idea to use desensitizing toothpaste for a few weeks after bleaching procedures. Before using any product for bleaching at home, always ensure it is an ADA (American Dental Association) approved.

What are the at-home bleaching methods for whitening teeth?

At-home bleaching methods come in various forms, such as strips, gels, pens, and toothpaste. All these products must be applied on the upper and lower teeth for a few minutes for a few weeks or months as directed by the manufacturer. All these modalities are discussed below:

1. Whitening Strips

These strips contain peroxides in lower concentrations and take a little longer to show the results. They are very easy to use and have to be applied on the upper and lower teeth, keeping it for a few minutes or as instructed by the manufacturer and removed. These strips may be used for a couple of months to achieve the results. They are not so expensive and result in moderate sensitivity.

2. Bleaching gels

Bleaching gels come in syringes, and the user has to put them in a tray either provided by the manufacturer or a custom tray fabricated by the dentist. A custom tray is better as it truly fits your teeth and allows the gel to stay properly on your teeth without leaking. These might take a few weeks to show results, but they are cost-effective. In addition, they cause less sensitivity. 

3. Whitening Pen

A whitened-gel tube with a brush tip is what makes up a whitening pen. The gel is available in various strengths. Each tooth is painted with the gel, giving it 60 seconds to dry before sealing your mouth. Some brands instruct you to rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth without toothpaste after the suggested treatment period. At the same time, other gels disintegrate after a predetermined amount of time. They are available with or without LED lights and show complete results in around two weeks.

4. Toothpaste

These are generally not recommended as people tend to overuse them, which can show adverse effects. The main ingredients in traditional whitening toothpaste are abrasives and bleaching agents like silica, pyrophosphates, hydrogen peroxide, or carbamide peroxide that remove extrinsic stains and brighten the color of teeth. 

Whitening toothpaste contains chemicals that have unintended negative effects on the enamel as well as the soft tissues, leading to loss of enamel, ulcers, and irritations of the areas around the teeth. Therefore, before using this toothpaste, all usage recommendations should be followed, including how often to use it.

What is in-office bleaching?

In-office bleaching takes 45 minutes to two hours and can whiten your teeth up to eight shades in one sitting. The biggest advantage of this procedure is its excellent results that can be seen immediately after the treatment. This procedure uses the highest percentage of peroxides and is more expensive than at-home bleaching procedures. However, the degree of sensitivity is more in this beaching, which is transient and resolves after a few weeks. Its results last for around one to two years.

When should you choose in-office bleaching and when should you choose at-home bleaching?

If you have a big event like a wedding the next day or want whiter teeth within the same day, plus you do not have any budget constraints, you should choose in-office bleaching. On the other hand, if you have budget issues, do not need the results right away, and can wait at least two to four months to see them, at-home bleaching is the best option to choose.


To conclude, bleaching agents are hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, which makes your teeth a few shades whiter. The teeth whitening kit contains bleaching agents. However, you are not a good candidate for bleaching if you have gum diseases, cavities, receding gums, severe sensitivity, or enamel loss. Because these conditions will make your condition worse and result in increased sensitivity.

Dentists would recommend treating each of these conditions before performing. So, before taking step towards teeth whitening, you can contact Dr. Sharda Patel for the right suggestion and treatment. You can schedule dental appointment or send mail to office@dentaloasispleasanton.com.