As a general rule of thumb, the term “bleaching” applies to at-home and in-office procedures that brighten the color of your teeth beyond their natural starting point by using a bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide.
“Whitening,” on the other hand, though used loosely by manufacturers, refers to restoring a tooth’s enamel to its original color by removing plaque and stains with at-home, over-the-counter toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Of all the bleaching treatments available, in-office procedures offer the fastest results because of their higher-strength bleaching agent. The legal limit for over-the-counter treatments, like whitening strips, is 6% hydrogen peroxide, which is ideal for keeping your smile white once you’ve reached your ideal shade through professional means.
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