Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does 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 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) and is sticky and viscous, so it stays where it’s placed. This unique feature prevents the 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


    Learn more about how Opalescence works
  • 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.”6 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. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, 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.


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  • What options are available to whiten my teeth?

    Opalescence whitening has been specially formulated and is available in many different concentrations, delivery options, and flavors. This means that you can whiten in a way that best fits your lifestyle. Whether you want to whiten your teeth with a custom tray, prefilled tray, or with an in-office whitening treatment, Opalescence has a professional whitening option for you.


    Find out which Opalescence whitening product is right for you
  • Will teeth whitening cause tooth sensitivity?

    Tooth sensitivity is a relatively common side effect of teeth whitening and results from irritation of the nerve of your tooth by the peroxide in the whitening gel. 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
  • Why doesn’t Opalescence whitening require a teeth whitening light?

    Lots of other in-office whitening treatments use a 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?


    The answer is no. Current research shows that only hydrogen peroxide (the whitening agent used in Opalescence Boost in-office whitening and 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.7 In fact, some research shows that using a light for whitening can be harmful to lips and gums.8

  • Does teeth whitening with charcoal work?

    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?

    Yes! Opalescence Endo whitening is designed specifically to whiten non-vital teeth. Consider talking to your dentist to learn more about the process for whitening a non-vital tooth.


    Find out more about our specialty whitening options
  • 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% custom-tray whitening allows 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% whitening over multiple nights. Consult with your dentist to determine if this option is right for you.


    Find out more about Opalescence PF 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 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 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 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 only available from dental professionals. This ensures that you receive safe, untampered, and real Opalescence whitening. After a routine exam to ensure you are a good candidate for teeth whitening, your dentist will provide you with the right Opalescence whitening product for your needs.


    Find a dentist near you that offers Opalescence teeth whitening

    Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste is available for purchase to the public here on Opalescence.com. You can order both Original or Sensitivity Relief formulas in packages of three tubes each—enough for you and your whole family!


    Buy Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste today
  • 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. Does light activation enhance teeth whitening? May 28, 2010. Retrieved from drbicuspid.com August 14, 2013.
  • 8. 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.

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