How Much Does Teething Whitening Cost Without Insurance?
Teeth whitening can be a great way to improve your smile without serious dental work. Teeth whitening is an effective way to lighten your teeth and remove stains without altering the surface of your teeth. Multiple whitening options can be done at home or your dentist’s office. However, because this is a cosmetic procedure, teeth whitening is not covered by insurance, and the out-of-pocket cost can range between $10 and $1,180.
Cost of At-Home and In-Office Teeth Whitening
Typically, in-office treatments will be more expensive than over-the-counter options. However, it's important to note that in-office treatments are more effective and require less frequent upkeep than over-the-count strips and LED kits. The chart below highlights the price of each whitening option, time per session, upkeep frequency, and sensitivity.
Cost of Teeth Whitening Treatments
|Type of Treatment||Cost||Upkeep|
|In-Office||$262-$1,180||Every 6 months to a year|
|LED Kits||$50-$300||Few times a month|
|Strips||$10-$59||Few times a month|
Source: New Mouth
Teething Whitening Options
There are many options and products to choose from that can help reduce tooth discoloration and whiten your teeth, including over-the-counter treatments and in-office professional treatments. OTC options are generally cheaper than professional in-office options but require more sessions per month.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Whitening Treatments
OTC treatments make whitening easy and affordable. Although they are less effective than professional treatment options, they can be an excellent place to start when exploring teeth whitening. It's important to note that OTC treatments require more upkeep than professional care. The results may not be as immediate or drastic as you would see from in-office treatments. The most common OTC are whitening strips and LED kits.
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Whitening strips can be purchased from your local pharmacy, costing between $10 and $50 for a package of about ten strips. Whitening strips fit over your teeth and should be left on for about 30 minutes.
LED kits have become increasingly popular, as they can speed up the at-home whitening process. With an LED kit, you apply a layer of bleaching agent ( that comes with the kit) to your teeth and then place the LED light over your teeth, which activates the whitening agent. LED kits can cost between $50 and $300.
Professional In-Office Treatments
There are several options for in-office teeth whitening that you can discuss with your dentist. Common treatment options include ZOOM, BOOST, and Kor Whitening. All options involved wearing a custom-made tooth tray –typically fitted at your first appointment– that contains a whitening gel. This is similar to the at-home LED kit options. However, the in-office treatments have a higher concentration of the whitening agent.
Teeth Whitening Frequently Asked Questions FAQ(s)
Below are some commonly asked questions about the effectiveness of teeth whitening, what causes discoloration, and the side effects of teeth whitening.
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What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
There are multiple reasons that teeth discoloration can occur. However, the most common cause is staining from certain foods and drinks. Food and drink stains are known as Extrinsic stains, meaning they only affect the surface of your teeth and can be removed with teeth whitening. The most common foods and drinks that cause extrinsic stains include:
- Dark Teas
- Red Wine
- Fruit Juices
- Dark Chocolate
Are There Side Effects from Teeth Whitening?
The most common side effect for both at-home and in-office teeth whitening options is tooth sensitivity, meaning your teeth come highly aware of cold and hot beverages. Typically in-office treatments cause more tooth sensitivity because the treatment has a higher concentration of whitening gel (what causes sensitivity) and is left on the tooth's surface for an extended period.
Are There Any Circumstances When Teeth Whitening Is Covered by Insurance?
No. Teeth whitening is exclusively deemed a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by insurance. Even if you have deeper stains or plaque that causes discoloration of the tooth, your dentist will recommend a deep cleaning – your insurance will partially cover. Teeth whitening might be added to your services, but the cost will be paid out-of-pocket.
Are There Alternatives to Teeth Whitening Options?
Other options can permanently get rid of tooth discoloration. However, they are not necessarily cheaper than tooth whitening. Veneers are a common option for individuals who want to improve their overall smile and have whiter teeth.
A veneer is simply a tooth-color shell that fits over the front of your tooth, removing the appearance of discoloration and chips. Veneers can last up to 25 years; however, they cost $659 and $1,618 per tooth without insurance.
The second option is dental bonding. Dental bonding fixes minor damage, gaps, or coloring issues on the teeth. Dental bonding costs between $300 to $600 per tooth without insurance.
There are many options when looking for ways to whiten your teeth and improve your smile. Because tooth whitening in-office with your dentist can be expensive, experts recommend asking your dentist for at-home recommendations. If you do not see results with over-the-counter options, ask your dentist about in-office whitening and if they offer payment plans for the treatment.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Alexandra is currently getting her Master's in Public Health with a health policy certificate at Columbia University. One of her life goals is to own her own art gallery!