Research shows that most people are unhappy with the appearance of their smile. Many times, it is because their teeth are not as white as they’d like them to be. This is why tooth whitening procedures are so popular.

There are plenty of options available, both in-office and at-home. The at-home treatments can be obtained through your dentist or over the counter at your local pharmacy. However, it is important to note that OTC treatments are not as effective as the in-office and at-home professional options.

Dr. Subha Yerabollu offers the latest in whitening technology at Prime Family Dentistry in Stone Ridge, the Opalescence® tooth whitening system. Here’s what you need to know about this treatment.

Causes of Discolored Teeth

There are several factors that can cause teeth to become discolored, including:


The avoidable causes of tooth discoloration include:

  • Dark-colored foods/beverages, such as red wine, soy sauce, coffee, tea, and berries have been shown to cause tooth staining
  • People who smoke or use tobacco products are more likely to have tooth discoloration than those who do not
  • People who have poor oral hygiene habits are more likely to have tooth discoloration than those who brush/floss regularly because stains cling to dental plaque
  • Fluoride can be a great way to protect your teeth from decay, but excessive fluoride use/exposure can cause fluorosis, which is a condition that causes white spots to develop on enamel 


The unavoidable causes of tooth discoloration include:

  • Genetics, tooth color naturally varies from one person to another- but should ultimately match the whites of your eyes
  • Dental trauma, falls/injuries/car crashes can cause trauma that can result in tooth discoloration
  • Aging, your tooth enamel gets thinner as you age, which exposes more of the yellowish dentin, causing teeth to appear discolored
  • Dental restorations, such as silver amalgam dental fillings, can cause teeth to appear grayish. Root canal treatment can also cause discoloration 
  • Medical conditions, such as eating disorders, metabolic conditions, liver disease, and celiac disease can cause tooth discoloration 
  • Medications, such as those for high blood pressure, can cause teeth to become discolored. In addition, adults who have taken certain antibiotics are more likely to have discolored teeth
  • Cancer treatments, such as head/neck radiation or chemotherapy can cause teeth to develop discoloration

What Is Opalescence?



$1,200 to $8,000

Traditional Braces

$3.000 to $7,000

Insurance Coverage


Some dental insurance providers will cover Invisalign, some consider it cosmetic

Traditional Braces

Most dental insurance provers will cover treatment with traditional braces



Virtually invisible, most people don’t notice the aligners, even close up

Traditional Braces

Wires and brackets are visible, even from a distance



Effective for mild to moderate malocclusions alone

May also be effective for severe malocclusion when used with attachments

Traditional Braces

Proven effective for all types and severities of dental malocclusions

Treatment time


12 to 18-month treatment window on average

Mild malocclusions may take 6 months, while more severe cases may take up to 24

Traditional Braces

12 to 24-month treatment window, may take up to 36 months for more severe cases



The dentist will perform a comprehensive exam

Digital images are taken of the bite and sent to a dental lab for the fabrication of the aligners

Once aligners are sent to the clinic, the first one will be placed, and the treatment plan discussed

You will be sent home with the remaining aligners and will check in with the clinic every so often to check your progress

Traditional Braces

The dentist will perform a comprehensive exam, including x-rays and other necessary imaging

Metal brackets will be cemented to affected teeth and an archwire run through connecting them.

Every few weeks, you will need to come back in to have the archwire tightened.

Food restrictions


None, aligners are removed for eating

Traditional Braces

Nothing sticky, hard, chewy, tough, or crunchy

Oral hygiene


Easy, aligners are removed for brushing/flossing

Traditional Braces

Complicated, can be difficult to clean around the brackets and wires- requires the use of an interdental brush

Opalescence® is a brand of teeth-whitening products that are available in several different forms, flavors, and concentrations. Many dental practices and consumers have used these products for more than 20 years. They are safe, reliable, and effective for whitening teeth several shades with the first treatment.

How Does Opalescence Work?

Opalescence® works by removing stains that are responsible for tooth discoloration.

How Long Do I Wear Opalescence?

The length of time that you need to wear Opalescence® gel depends on the concentration of the gel:
  • 45% should be worn for at least 15 minutes but no more than 30 minutes
  • 20% should be worn for at least 2 hours but no more than 4 hours
  • 15% should be worn for at least 4 hours but no more than 6 hours
  • % should be worn overnight- for at least 8 hours but no more than 10 hours 
Your dentist can give you more information if you need it.

How Is Opalescence Different Than Other Whitening Treatments-Over-The-Counter and Professional?

Opalescence® uses a higher concentration than other whitening treatments, which makes it more effective.

Why should I consider Opalescence®?

If you are looking for an effective method for whitening your teeth, you should consider Opalescence® because many dentists support it and use it in their own clinic. Dr. Yerabollu at Prime Family Dentistry believes in this treatment method, which is why she offers it in her clinic.

How is the Opalescence ® treatment performed?

The at-home version of Opalescence® is easy to use. Simply put the gel in the tray and place the tray in your mouth. You may need to tap on the tray to get it to fit properly against your teeth. You will wear the trays for the specified amount of time based on the strength of the gel.

The first step in the in-office treatment is to protect the gums and soft oral tissues from exposure to the gel. Then, the gel is applied to the teeth and you’ll be placed under a UV light to activate the whitening agents in the gel.

Am I a good candidate for OPALESCENCE® TEETH WHITENING?

Adults with tooth discoloration due to aging, food/drink consumption, smoking, and other factors qualify for Opalescence teeth whitening. As a general rule, teeth whitening is not recommended for patients under the age of 18.

However, it is important to note that if you have worn/thin enamel, exposed roots, gum disease, or tooth decay, you are at an increased risk of side effects such as gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. Therefore, it’s important to discuss the use of whitening products to reduce these and other risks.

Schedule Your Teeth Whitening at Prime Family Dentistry Today

If you have tooth discoloration and believe you may benefit from tooth whitening procedures, schedule your consultation with Dr. Yerabollu and the team at Prime Family Dentistry today. Dr. Yerabollu has been practicing in the Metro D.C. area since 2010 and strives to stay informed of the latest in dental advancements. In addition to improving the appearance of your smile, she can help you improve your overall dental health.

Our office is located at 24805 Pinebrook Road in Stone Ridge. Our office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM, Thursday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and Saturday from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. We typically reserve Tuesdays and Wednesdays for dental emergencies.


Dr. Yerabollu wants to make sure that you have an understanding of what is happening with your dental procedure. Therefore, she will be happy to discuss your questions/concerns. Below are some of the most common questions that we’ve heard about Opalescence® teeth whitening:
Opalescence® teeth whitening features both in-office and at-home treatments. The at-home option consists of whitening gel and trays, as well as whitening toothpaste. The kits come with instructions that specify exactly how to use the trays, including the length of time that the gel should be on your teeth.
Depending on the type of treatment that is used, teeth whitening may remove stains with an abrasive ingredient or lighten stains with a bleaching ingredient. Either way, the primary purpose of teeth whitening is to improve the appearance of teeth.
Yes, teeth whitening can cause tooth sensitivity when peroxide-based ingredients are used. This is because peroxide can damage tooth enamel and gum tissue. However, in most cases, the sensitivity will resolve within a few days.
According to experts, bleaching will not weaken teeth, if done as directed and under the supervision of a qualified dentist.
Professional teeth whitening results can last up to a year or more with proper care and maintenance. This includes brushing and flossing regularly and avoiding habits that can cause discoloration.

The at-home Opalescence® trays are easy to use. Here’s how:

Put a continuous bead of gel into the whitening tray
Place tray on teeth and tap to ensure a good seal
Wear the trays for the length of time specified based on the strength of the gel- if you have sensitivity, remove the trays and gel and speak with the dentist
Once the specified time has passed, remove the trays and brush the excess gel with a toothbrush.
Clean the tray with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water- place the trays in the storage case.

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