Teeth Whitening vs. Cleaning: How to Choose

Your teeth always seem whiter after a cleaning. But are they really? And is a cleaning a better choice than teeth whitening? Do the two procedures do the same thing? Why get your teeth cleaned? Why opt for teeth whitening? CHD is here to help with a comprehensive guide to teeth whitening, teeth cleaning, and how to figure out what’s right for you.

The inside skinny on teeth cleanings and whitening

  • A dental cleaning is a procedure that removes dental plaque, or biofilm, and tartar. 
  • Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that uses acidic products to lighten your teeth. 
  • A cleaning can make your teeth look whiter because it removes superficial discoloration. 
  • But if your lifestyle has left you with heavily stained teeth, we’ll recommend tooth whitening – after a check-up, of course!

So what’s the difference between cleaning and whitening?

What’s a cleaning?

A dental cleaning is a procedure that removes tartar and dental plaque both above and below your gums. That means it also removes superficial stains. Your teeth will also be polished at the beginning or end of your appointment to smooth their surface and prevent staining and buildup.

What’s teeth whitening?

Professional teeth whitening is a procedure that lightens your teeth from the inside, to varying degrees. It uses tooth-friendly acidic products that penetrate into the second layer of your teeth and can make them up to six shades lighter.

Teeth whitening isn’t a cleaning

Getting your teeth cleaned won’t really whiten them, but it does remove most superficial stains thanks to polishing, especially with the latest air polishing technology.

That will make your teeth look a little whiter by eliminating superficial stains from things like coffee and tobacco. But if your teeth are yellowing or very worn, cleaning and polishing won’t do the job, since they only remove superficial discoloration. To do that, you’ll need a whitening treatment, which can be done in a single session.

Can you have your teeth whitened without getting them cleaned?

Since tooth whitening actually cleans the second, inner layer of your teeth, it’s essential to clean the outside layer and remove superficial staining by getting them cleaned and polished.

It’s also key to make sure your mouth is healthy before starting a cosmetic treatment like whitening.

At CHD, we require a full dental exam and provide personalized advice on at-home care before providing whitening services. That keeps stains from coming back too fast, so you can enjoy your pearly white smile as long as possible.


How much does teeth whitening cost?

Depending on the technique used, teeth whitening costs 390.- to 750.- at CHD. For more information, you can check our detailed price guide.

How much does a cleaning cost?

An adult cleaning including polishing and a check-up costs 140.-. For children under 10, it costs 79.-. Check out the full Clinique Hygiène Dentaire price guide.

How to get in touch with CHD Dental Hygiene Clinic?

Feel free to contact the CHD Dental Hygiene Clinic by phone, email, or WhatsApp. We are delighted to welcome you in our dental clinics in Geneva, Meyrin, Lausanne, and most recently Yverdon!