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"Is Custom Opalescence Teeth Whitening Worth It Compared to Over-the-Counter Competitors?"

A dazzling smile can light up a room, and achieving pearly white teeth has become a universal quest for many. As the demand for teeth whitening solutions continues to rise, individuals are faced with a myriad of options, ranging from over-the-counter products to professional treatments. In this blog post, we will delve into the realm of teeth whitening, with a specific focus on Opalescence, a professional-grade whitening system, and its comparison with over-the-counter competitors.

Understanding Opalescence Teeth Whitening

Opalescence, a brand synonymous with teeth whitening excellence, has gained recognition for its professional-grade products available through dental offices. The Opalescence teeth whitening system utilizes a unique formula that combines carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide as the active bleaching agent. These compounds penetrate your enamel through tiny pores on the tooth’s surface reaching the second layer of your tooth, called dentin. While enamel is typically light colored, with age, your enamel may take a translucent shade, allowing the darker dentin to show through. The compounds reach the dentin and oxidize the molecules within it, giving them a lighter appearance. While a little sensitivity is common, this process is usually painless and does not cause wear on your teeth. 

The benefits of Opalescence tooth whitening alongside a before and after teeth whitening picture and a picture of a dental provider holding a woman's custom whitening/bleaching tray

The Opalescence Advantage:

1. Professional Supervision: One of the key distinctions of Opalescence is its association with professional dental care. Unlike over-the-counter products, Opalescence is often administered under the supervision of a dentist, ensuring a personalized approach tailored to the individual's oral health needs.

2. Customized Whitening Trays: Opalescence offers custom-fitted whitening trays that enhance the effectiveness of the whitening gel. These trays ensure even distribution of the gel and minimize contact with the gums, reducing the risk of sensitivity.

3. Varied Formulations: Opalescence provides a range of formulations with different concentrations of bleaching agents, allowing dentists to choose the most suitable option based on the patient's sensitivity and desired level of whitening.

4. High-Quality Ingredients: Opalescence uses high-quality ingredients in its formulations, emphasizing safety and efficacy. The products are developed with the latest advancements in dental science, providing a reliable and reputable choice for teeth whitening.

5. Ease of use: The process of teeth whitening with custom trays and Opalescence whitening gel is simple and not time consuming. Check out the graphic below to see just how simple it is!

The Opalescence teeth whitening process with custom trays, just 4 easy steps defined

The Over-the-Counter Landscape

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products have flooded the market, offering consumers a myriad of different products to choose from. These products typically include whitening toothpaste, strips, gels, and trays, and are widely available at pharmacies and supermarkets. While these products are relatively inexpensive, there are glaring weaknesses when compared to custom whitening trays and Opalescence whitening gels. 

Over-the-Counter Competitors:

1. Whitening Toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste often contains mild abrasives and polishing agents to remove surface stains. However, they may not be as effective in treating deeper stains and discoloration.

2. Whitening Strips: Over-the-counter whitening strips are adhesive strips coated with a peroxide-based gel. While convenient, they may not provide the same level of customization and even coverage as professional-grade trays. The peroxide-based gel is hardly contained to the strip, which can cause it to reach the gum line and other parts of the mouth. This can lead to root sensitivity and pain. 

3. Whitening Gels: Some over-the-counter kits include whitening gels with trays. However, these trays are often not custom-fitted, leading to uneven application and potential gum irritation. These gels are generally less effective than Opalescence whitening gels because of the lower concentration of bleach.

* Products like whitening kits containing activated charcoal or blue lights have been found to have little to no effectiveness, with some studies finding that they do more harm then good. Active charcoal is abrasive, meaning the substance can remove surface layer stains on your enamel to some degree; However, activated charcoal can wear down your the enamel, which can cause a wide variety of dental problems. Blue lights in at-home whitening kits have been found to increase tooth sensitivity and can even dehydrate your teeth. Some dental offices offer in-office whitening using blue light technology, but studies have not been able to confirm whether or not the light speeds up the whitening process.

A before and after picture of a 26 year old patient's teeth before and after using Opalescence PFF whitening gel alongside custom whitening/bleaching trays

Comparative Analysis

1. Effectiveness:

Opalescence: The professional-grade formulation of Opalescence is designed to deliver superior results, tackling both surface stains and deep discoloration. The customized trays ensure that the whitening gel reaches all areas of the teeth, providing a comprehensive and even whitening effect, while limiting sensitivity and protecting the rest of your oral anatomy from damage. 

Over-the-Counter Competitors: While over-the-counter products can yield noticeable results, they may not be as potent or effective as professional-grade treatments. The generic, one-size-fits-all approach of many over-the-counter options may result in uneven whitening and unpredictable outcomes. Many of these products do not reach as far into the dentin layer as Opalescence gels do, which limits the range of results that you can achieve. 

2. Safety:

Opalescence: With professional supervision and custom-fitted trays, Opalescence prioritizes safety. Our team of dentists in Glendale, WI can monitor your progress and address any issues such as sensitivity or gum irritation promptly. 

Over-the-Counter Competitors: Over-the-counter products are generally safe when used as directed. However, the lack of professional oversight may lead to misuse, potentially causing sensitivity or irritation. Ill-fitting trays or strips can also result in uneven application and discomfort.

3. Convenience:

Opalescence: The professional nature of Opalescence requires a visit to the dentist for an initial consultation and the creation of custom trays. Subsequent treatments can be done at home, providing a balance between professional guidance and convenience.

Over-the-Counter Competitors: Over-the-counter products are readily available for purchase without the need for professional intervention. This convenience, however, comes at the expense of a personalized approach and ongoing supervision.

4. Cost:

Opalescence: Professional-grade treatments like Opalescence may come with a higher upfront cost due to the involvement of a dentist and the creation of custom trays. However, the long-term benefits and superior results may justify the investment for those seeking a premium whitening experience. 

Over-the-Counter Competitors: Over-the-counter products are generally more budget-friendly, making them accessible to a broader audience. However, the cost-effectiveness should be weighed against the potential trade-offs in terms of efficacy and safety.


In the quest for a brighter, whiter smile, individuals are faced with the decision of choosing between professional-grade treatments like Opalescence and over-the-counter competitors. While both options have their merits, the choice ultimately depends on individual preferences, budget considerations, and the level of whitening desired.

Opalescence stands out as a reputable and effective choice, offering a personalized approach under the supervision of dental professionals. The commitment to safety, high-quality ingredients, and customized solutions make Opalescence a premium option for those seeking optimal results.

On the other hand, over-the-counter products provide a more accessible and convenient route to teeth whitening. While they may be suitable for individuals with mild staining and budget constraints, the lack of professional oversight and customization may limit the efficacy and safety of these options.

Look out for deals and promotional offers, like ours! Through the month of February, Dr. Paul M Sandvick, DDS & Associates offers a staggering 50% off our custom whitening trays which includes two packs of Opalescence gel. We offer Opalescence whitening gels at 10%, 15%, 20%, and 35% concentrations in order to broaden the range of possible results of tooth whitening in Glendale, WI. Brighten your smile right in time for Valentine’s Day by contacting us today

Sandvick DDS & Associates is hosting a 50% off sale on custom teeth whitening/ bleaching trays. The sale runs through the month of February

In conclusion, the journey to a radiant smile involves a careful consideration of individual needs and expectations. Whether opting for the professional touch of Opalescence or the convenience of over-the-counter alternatives, the key is to make an informed decision that aligns with both oral health goals and overall well-being.


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