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What To Know Before Whitening

April 5, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — texasdentistry @ 7:57 pm

Teeth whiteningSo, you need a cleaning before you even think about whitening your teeth? WHAT?! Yes. A cleaning is recommended for all patients prior to whitening. Keep reading as to why this is important. 

Chasidy and Allison have teamed up to shed some light on the importance of a cleaning, also known as a Prophylaxis. Prophy for short.. Because who has time to spell out P R O P H Y L A X I S? We have some information on the difference between a basic cleaning vs. deep cleaning. Allison will also explain what Periodontal Maintenance is. (we say Perio for short. Because c’mon, the time.. Am I right?)

Now let us get down to business and answer some of the questions you keep asking yourself. Ready? Great, let’s go!

Q: What is a basic cleaning?

A: A basic dental cleaning involves the removal of plaque, tartar and staining in order to prevent gum disease and promote overall good oral health. A patient who needs a basic cleaning must not have any radiographic evidence of tartar below the gumline. A basic cleaning is recommended every 6 months.

Q: What is a deep cleaning?

A: During a deep cleaning, build up that causes bone loss is removed in order to maintain bone and tissue health. A deep cleaning is necessary when plaque and tartar has extended deep underneath the gums and on the root surfaces of the teeth. A patient that needs a deep cleaning has periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.

Q: What is perio maintenance?

A: Periodontal maintenance is a type of cleaning that is performed after the patient has had a deep cleaning, in order to help maintain the bone levels and gum health. Periodontal maintenance is usually recommended every 3-4 months, depending on the improvement of oral hygiene and health of the gums.

Q: Why is it important to have a cleaning prior to whitening your teeth?

A: It is a good idea to have a cleaning before you whiten your teeth to ensure that there is no staining or bacteria present at the time of whitening, as well as no cavities present. Having clean teeth when whitening is recommended so that the whitening agent can penetrate the surface of the tooth and optimal results can be reached.

Q: Is it possible to get a basic cleaning when a deep cleaning has been recommended?

A: When a deep cleaning has been recommended for a patient, this means that there is a heavy amount of build up beneath the gums as well as bone loss present; therefore, a basic cleaning will not be adequate in removing all of the build up. Build up that is left underneath the gums will continue to be destructive to the bone and surrounding tissue. Untreated gum disease will eventually lead to tooth loss, so removal of all build up beneath the gums is crucial. This is why performing a basic cleaning on someone with periodontal disease that needs a deep cleaning is against professional standards. As dental professionals, we are here to serve our patients with the best care possible to ensure total oral health.

We strive to give our patients the best care and the best smile! But we do have to make sure you are the perfect candidate for whitening. 

Whitening Screening Criteria:

  1. No active caries or teeth needing restorations in area of whitening
  2. Patient cannot be pregnant or nursing
  3. 15 year old or younger may need radiograph to assess tooth development.
  4. Gum disease/Periodontitis needs to be controlled first.
  5. Exposed root surfaces
  6. Excessive Dry Mouth or Hypersensitivity


  1. Will not whiten existing restorations like fillings, crowns, veneers, etc.
  2. May cause tooth and gum sensitivity
  3. Will not whiten intrinsic staining from tetracycline.. Bands of staining
  4. Possibility of rebound discoloration, non-uniform whitening (streaky or blotchy areas) Patient may need touch-up whitening.

We hope this helps answer any questions you may have had regarding dental cleanings! 

Signing Out: Chasidy Alvarez and Allison Hamm, RDH

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