Frequently Asked Questions
How does Opalescence™ teeth whitening work?
Teeth whitening is the removal of stains and discolorations from the enamel and dentin. The outer layer of the tooth is enamel, and beneath the enamel is dentin. Enamel is thin and typically much lighter in color, while dentin is darker in color and makes up the bulk of the tooth. Enamel can be discolored over time simply from age, but also from outside sources like coffee, tea, tobacco, and other foods and beverages. Also, as we age, our enamel thins, causing more dentin to show through, making the overall appearance of the tooth look darker.
Whitening your teeth removes these stains and discolorations, giving you a whiter, brighter smile. The active ingredients in Opalescence teeth whitening gels pass into your teeth to oxidize the discolored molecules deep down in your teeth, removing stains and whitening your smile. Our original, patented formula contains PF (potassium nitrate and fluoride) for patient comfort and is sticky and viscous, so it stays where it’s placed. This unique feature prevents the teeth whitening gel from seeping out during treatment, ensuring both the gel and tray stay in place and work effectively for the duration of your treatment.1-5
Why should I whiten my teeth?
People whiten their teeth for many reasons. You can bring back some of that youthful appearance with a whiter, brighter smile. Do you have a wedding or important day coming up? A whiter smile can help brighten up special occasions. Some people whiten their teeth before a job interview to get that extra boost of confidence that comes with making a great first impression.
According to a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, “close to one in two (48%) people believe that a smile is the most memorable feature after first meeting someone—more so than the first thing a person says (25%).” That same survey also found that “more than a third of respondents view people with a flawed smile to be less attractive (37%) and less confident (25%) than those with perfect teeth.” Smiles make a lasting impression and a bright, white, beautiful smile won’t be forgotten. People seem to agree—nothing beats a beautiful smile!6
Is teeth whitening for everyone?
Teeth whitening is a safe, comfortable way to get a bright, white smile. Results and treatment time may vary depending on the level of staining and whiteness desired. Crowns, bridges, fillings, and veneers will not whiten. Those with gum disease, worn enamel, cavities, and exposed roots may not be good candidates for whitening their teeth. We recommend visiting your dentist for a pre-whitening consultation so that they can help you choose the professional option that best fits your needs.
Should I use teeth whitening if I am pregnant, breastfeeding, or undergoing fertility treatment?
Like with many other dental or medical treatments, people have wondered if teeth whitening during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or IVF is safe.
Because no studies have been done regarding the safety of teeth whitening during pregnancy, the ADA suggests that "clinicians may consider recommending that teeth whitening be deferred during pregnancy."7 Most dental professionals follow this suggestion, making it the standard protocol throughout the dental community, and recommend their patients don't whiten during pregnancy or fertility treatments.
We agree and recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding women, women undergoing fertility treatment, and patients with serious health concerns do not use teeth whiteners.
What options are available to whiten my teeth?
Opalescence teeth whitening has been specially formulated and is available in many different concentrations, delivery options, and flavors. This means that you can whiten your teeth in a way that best fits your lifestyle. Whether you want to whiten your teeth with a custom tray, or with a prefilled tray, Opalescence teeth whitening kits offer a professional teeth whitening option for you.
Find out which Opalescence teeth whitening product is right for you
Will teeth whitening give me sensitive teeth?
Tooth sensitivity is a relatively common side effect of teeth whitening. No harm is caused to your tooth as a result of a whitening treatment, and this discomfort is not an indication of damage to your tooth. If sensitivity occurs, it is most often temporary and will go away when you've completed the whitening process. If you do experience tooth sensitivity, there are ways to treat it using desensitizing toothpastes and gels such as Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste Sensitivity Relief or UltraEZ desensitizing gel. Consult with your dentist to determine the best treatment for your needs.
Find out more about treating tooth sensitivity
Do teeth whitening lights work?
Lots of other in-office whitening treatments use an LED light or a laser during the whitening process. You've probably seen commercials for these kinds of teeth whiteners. Or maybe you've even seen kiosks in the mall where they use a light to whiten your teeth. Are these lights and lasers really effective, though?
Current research shows that only hydrogen peroxide (the whitening agent used in Opalescence Go tray whitening) or carbamide peroxide (the whitening agent used in Opalescence PF custom-tray whitening) are effective in whitening teeth. Light activation adds no additional benefit.8 In fact, some research shows that using a light for whitening can be harmful to lips and gums.9
Are activated charcoal teeth whitening products effective?
There is no evidence that brushing your teeth with activated charcoal is better, safer, or more effective than standard whitening toothpaste. Charcoal leaves a mess, tends to settle at your gumline, and is difficult for a dental hygienist to remove. Although the abrasiveness of the charcoal may help remove some surface stains, you may risk abrading your enamel too much. Such damage may not be repaired. Additionally, it is impossible for charcoal to actually change the color of your tooth. The only substance proven to whiten the color of your enamel is activated oxygen, such as that released by the peroxide contained in Opalescence teeth whitening.
If you are looking for a whitening toothpaste, we recommend Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste which successfully whitens by removing surface stains and is gentle enough to use daily without damaging your enamel.
Can I whiten my teeth after a root canal?
Depending on the individual case it can be possible. Talk to your dentist to learn more about the process for whitening a non-vital tooth.
Can I whiten a crown or a filling?
No, only natural tooth structure can be whitened, any crowns or fillings that you have will not react to whitening products. If you have a crown or a filling that is easily visible, you may want to talk to your dentist about different options for improving your smile.
How fast can I whiten my teeth?
Everyone responds differently to whitening treatments and everyone will whiten at different rates. Some stains are easier to treat than others. Teeth that are yellow or brown are easier to whiten than teeth that are gray-ish. Younger patients typically whiten more quickly than older patients, but every patient is different.
When whitening, keep in mind that your smile looks most natural when the color of your teeth matches the whites of your eyes. Some people want a Hollywood white smile, but that is not a natural color for teeth and few people can actually reach that color of white. Compare strengths and wear times for our various Opalescence whitening products and consult with your dentist to help determine the right option for you.
Find out which Opalescence whitening product is right for you
How can I whiten my teeth overnight?
Opalescence teeth whitening gives you flexible options to whiten your teeth when and where you want. Opalescence PF 10% teeth whitening trays allow you to whiten overnight by wearing your custom-trays while you sleep. Because the length of time needed to achieve the shade you desire will depend on your specific case, you may require more than one application of Opalescence PF 10% teeth whitening over multiple nights. Consult with your dentist to determine if this option is right for you.
Find out more about Opalescence PF teeth whitening
How much does teeth whitening cost?
The cost of teeth whitening can vary greatly depending on what you use and where you get it. While over-the-counter teeth whiteners are the least expensive, they may not be the most effective because they are not tailored to your specific needs and they may increase the risk of having sensitive teeth. Other dentist-administered teeth whitening treatments may be more expensive because of costly teeth whitening lights or lasers used in the procedure, but these accessories generally do not provide any added benefit. Opalescence teeth whitening offers the benefits of a dentist prescribed whitening treatment without any costly gimmicks, making it the best value. Talk to your dentist about specific costs and to determine the best whitening option for you.
How long do teeth whitening results last?
Teeth whitening results are very stable, leaving you with a stunning smile long after your teeth whitening treatment is over. However, there are a few factors that can make teeth lose their luster. Things like genetics, diet, age, some medications (like tetracycline), and certain habits (like smoking) may affect the length of your whitening results. Fortunately, touch-up treatments are quick and easy, helping you get that bright, white smile back.
How do I get Opalescence teeth whitening?
Opalescence teeth whitening is available from dental professionals. This ensures that you receive safe, untampered, and real Opalescence teeth whitening. After a routine exam to ensure you are a good candidate for teeth whitening, your dentist will provide you with the right Opalescence teeth whitening product for your needs.
- 1. Basting RT, Rodrigues AL Jr, Serra MC. The effects of seven carbamide peroxide bleaching agents on enamel microhardness over time. J Am Dent Assoc. 2003;134(10):1335-42.
- 2. Al-Qunaian TA. The effect of whitening agents on caries susceptibility of human enamel. Oper Dent. 2005;30(2):265-70.
- 3. Clark LM, Barghi N, Summitt JB, Amaechi BT. Influence of fluoridated carbamide peroxide bleaching gel on enamel demineralization. J Dent Res 85(Spec Iss A): 0497, 2006 (www.dentalresearch.org).
- 4. Amaechi BT, Clark LM, Barghi N, Summitt JB. Enamel fluoride uptake from fluoridated carbamide peroxide bleaching gel. J Dent Res 85(Spec Iss A): 0498, 2006 (www.dentalresearch.org).
- 5. Browning WD, Myers M, Downey M, Pohjola RM, Brackett WW. Report on low sensitivity whiteners. J Dent Res 85(Spec Iss A): 1650, 2006 (www.dentalresearch.org).
- 6. Best Face Forward: Making Great First Impressions in a Digital Age. Retrieved from aacd.com October 1, 2019.
- 7. Tooth whitening/Bleaching: Treatment Considerations for Dentists and Their Patients. ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. September 2009 (revised November 2010).
- 8. Does light activation enhance teeth whitening? May 28, 2010. Retrieved from drbicuspid.com August 14, 2013.
- 9. Bruzell EM, Johnsen B, Aalerud TN, Dahl JE & Christensen T (March 2009) In vitro efficacy and risk for adverse effects of light-assisted tooth bleaching Photochemical & Biological Sciences 8(3) 377-85.
- 10. Da Silva Machado J, et al. The influence of time interval between bleaching and enamel bonding. J Esthet Restor Dent. 2007;19(2):111-8; discussion 119.
- 11. Spyrides GM, et al. Effect of whitening agents on dentin bonding. J Esthet Dent. 2000;12(5):264-70.
- 12. Unlu N, Cobankara FK, Ozer F. Effect of elapsed time following bleaching on the shear bond strength of composite resin to enamel. J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2008 Feb;84(2):363-8.