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Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned Before Whitening?

Woman having teeth cleaning

Many of us desire a brighter, whiter smile. A confident smile can leave quite an impression and give our self-esteem a nice boost. This is where teeth whitening comes in. But here's the thing you might not know: getting your teeth cleaned before whitening can make a real difference.


Dr Chen, one of our leading dentists at Henley Dental, explains why this pre-whitening cleaning is important and how it can improve your teeth-whitening experience. 


How does teeth whitening work?

The way teeth whitening works is simple. Whitening agents, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, break down stains on the tooth's surface, leading to a whiter appearance. These agents need direct contact with the tooth enamel to be effective, so a clean surface is crucial.


The benefits of a check-up and clean before teeth whitening

Having your general check-up & cleaning is one of the considerations before a whitening treatment. According to Dr Chen, this is rooted in ensuring that your gums are in tip-top shape. This approach offers several advantages that help you maximise the benefits of the treatment and give you better results in the end. These benefits include:


1. Removes food particles in the mouth

One key reason for cleaning your teeth before whitening is to get rid of any lingering food particles in your mouth. These particles can hide in the gaps between your teeth and even below the gumline. Dr Chen explains that if these are not removed, they can block the whitening agent from reaching all the surfaces of your teeth, leading to uneven results. 


2. Removes plaque and tartar

While regular brushing can help remove some buildup, stubborn plaque and tartar require professional attention. These deposits can't be easily removed with your toothbrush. “We wouldn't want to bleach them too,” says Dr Chen.


A dental cleaning before whitening ensures that tartar is removed, leaving your teeth with a smooth and clean surface. This will help the whitening process to work more effectively.


3. Removes stains

If you have surface stains on your teeth from things like coffee or red wine, they should be addressed before whitening. A professional cleaning can work wonders in erasing these unsightly stains, allowing the whitening procedure to target deeper and more ingrained discolourations effectively. Dr Chen recommends a checkup and stain removal to ensure your whitening results last longer and look consistent.


4. Helps spot cavities and other signs of tooth decay

According to Dr Chen, dental cleanings also help them spot issues such as cavities, gum disease, or infections. This is important because they can interfere with the whitening process or even worsen later on. Should these problems be found, they will be treated as soon as possible to prepare your teeth before the whitening procedure.


Woman holding a sample teeth

White Teeth vs. Healthy Teeth

Dr Chen pointed out that having white teeth doesn't necessarily equate to having healthy teeth.


“Your tooth enamel isn't naturally brilliant white, it's an off-white colour and fluoride forms a strong compound which is yellow in colour,” he explained. “Healthy teeth can actually have a slightly yellowish hue.”


If your goal is strong and healthy teeth, Dr Chen recommends getting a fluoride varnish application from a dental professional. This treatment can help maintain the health of your teeth, even if it affects their whiteness. While achieving whiter teeth is a common desire, however, maintaining your teeth's health should always be a top priority. 


How to maintain your whitened teeth

Once you've achieved your desired level of whiteness, Dr Chen recommends strategies for maintaining your results. Chewing xylitol chewing gum after eating or drinking can help inhibit bacteria and plaque formation, making it more challenging for new stains to set in.


If your teeth get sensitive post-treatment, try to rinse with lukewarm water with a teaspoon to help reduce bacteria and infections. Additionally, using a toothpaste formulated for sensitivity, such as Sensodyne Rapid Relief or a similar product, can help address any tooth sensitivity that may arise during or after whitening.



Overall, should you consider teeth cleaning before in-chair teeth whitening? Absolutely. It's essential and recommended to begin with clean teeth before whitening. A routine check-up and cleaning do just that by removing food, plaque, and stains, and identifying any problems like cavities. These steps make your whitening treatment work better, resulting in improved outcomes.


If you're looking to get a professional teeth whitening procedure or want to schedule a routine checkup, give us a call on (02) 5701 1314 or book an appointment online. We’d be happy to assist you from start to finish. 


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