Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AHIW)
It can be confusing to know the difference between cleaning your teeth and whitening your teeth. Cleaning you teeth is much like cleaning your clothes. Tartar, stains, and plaque are removed in a scale and clean. This will improve the appearance of your teeth but does not alter the inherent colour or shade of your teeth.
Teeth whitening is similar to bleaching your clothes. It chemically breaks down the pigments inside your tooth. The active ingredient in whitening gels is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide reacts with water and forms hydrogen peroxide.