When our permanent teeth first come into our mouths, they are nice and white. Not quite as white as our baby teeth were, but they are still a respectable shade of white.
Over time, as we eat different foods our teeth begin to lose their bright white luster. Eventually our teeth’s enamel, the outermost layer of our teeth, develops little tiny cracks in it. These cracks make the tooth more susceptible to becoming a more yellow-brown dark shade.
Darker teeth are generally viewed as less attractive than white teeth. This simple fact often leads many people to try to make their teeth whiter.
The Difference Between Teeth Whitening & Teeth Bleaching
Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, and I confess that I use them interchangeably when explaining the concept of teeth whitening to patients, there is a subtle difference in the way that the FDA defines them that can help you choose the best product for your needs.
Teeth whiteningrefers to whitening teeth back to their natural, white color. Toothpastes are advertised as teeth whitening because they contain abrasives that remove stain from teeth, but most teeth whitening toothpastes do not contain any chemicals that bleach the teeth.
Teeth bleaching refers to whitening teeth beyond their natural white color so that they appear whiter than normal. This is usually accomplished through gels or strips that are applied to the teeth at home or in the dental office.
If you were wondering, the young woman pictured above has undergone teeth bleaching, as her teeth are much whiter than natural and in my opinion they are too white!
If a product claims to whiten your teeth, it may only be able to restore your teeth to their original shade of white. However, if a product claims to bleach your teeth, then it is capable of making your teeth whiter than they originally were when they first came into your mouth.
A product that bleaches the teeth is allowed to use the phrase whitening, but a product that only removes stain from your teeth is notallowed to use the phrase bleaching when referring to their product.
Do you have any questions or comments about teeth whitening or teeth bleaching? I’d love to read them in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!